Bus franchising, better orbital links and ‘the next generation of rapid transport links’, including tram-train, are some of the highlights of Greater Manchester's 25-year transport plan.
The draft Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040, which was developed by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), was launched on Monday (4 July) by the city region’s interim mayor, Tony Lloyd.
A TfGM Metrolink tram
It sets out a 25-year plan for the region’s public transport and road network and a series of eye-catching shorter-term plans.
Under the heading 'connected neighbourhoods', the strategy proposes better pedestrian and cycle links ‘to make active travel the natural choice for short journeys’ and ‘safer, less congested and less polluted local roads’, including a possible Clean Air Zone.
In terms of travel across the wider city region, the strategy sets out plans for an integrated smart ticketing system for public transport, improved orbital public transport travel opportunities and ‘the next generation of rapid transit routes (tram-train and bus)’.
The document also promises a ‘pan-northern multi-modal ticketing system’, which would be based on both smartcard and contactless technology.
Simon Warburton, TfGM’s interim transport strategy director told Transport Network that a key element in the short term was ‘how to use a future mayor’s devolution toolkit to support transport deliver in Greater Manchester’.
He said the principal focus was making use of powers under what is currently the Bus Services Bill but stressed that this was dependent on an incoming mayor next May accepting a business case for bus franchising.
Mr Warburton told Transport Network that in the longer term TfGM was ‘looking very hard’ at whether tram-train services could take rapid transport in the city region forward after planned extensions of Metrolink tram services.
He added that TfGM hoped to hear the outcome of the Transport and Works Act Order application for the extension of the Metrolink to the Trafford Centre from ministers before the summer recess.
Future tram-train services would use existing rail infrastructure and connect with approaches within Manchester city centre. They could include both linear and orbital lines, Mr Warburton said.
The strategy also promises ‘improved maintenance and resilience of our highways key route network and local roads’, although it notes that its maintenance and renewal plans will require additional funding, increased efficiency and ‘new funding arrangements’.
Mr Warburton said discussions with Department for Transport officials on a long-term funding settlement under the Greater Manchester devolution deal were ‘work in progress but work that is happening’.