Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, has promised a major overhaul of transport in the region, which will include efforts to tackle congestion and air pollution on major roads.
Speaking at the Urban Transport Group conference in Leeds yesterday (13 December) the Mayor claimed that a lack of investment in transport infrastructure in the north of England had led to unsustainable levels of congestion on roads, and unreliable public transport in the region.
According to the Mayor, lack of access to affordable and convenient public transport for many means that up to around 57% of journeys in Greater Manchester at peak times are made by car, with up to 80% of those made solo.
A consequence of problems on rail, road and Metrolink is that many people in Greater Manchester are left with no other choice but to drive, he said, adding: This in turn clogs up our roads particularly in the morning and evening peak.
This is a problem not just for the poor experience of travelling around Greater Manchester but for our health with dangerous emissions building up in areas of slow moving, stop-start traffic.
Among the reforms outlined the Mayor, which are due to begin taking place in 2018, is the establishment of a Greater Manchester Strategic Transport Board to coordinate improvements across the regions transport networks.
The Mayor has also promised reform of bus services, which he said suffered as a result of a failed, free market experiment. This will include lower fares, integrating contactless payment and a daily cap, more comprehensive bus services coverage across Greater Manchester as well as investment in cleaner and greener vehicles.
Improvements to the regions Metrolink tram system and rail network are also to be implemented.
The speech comes after the Mayor commissioned Transport for Greater Manchester to carry out a six-week Congestion Conversation with motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport users. More than 6,500 people responded with 91% reporting that congestion has caused them increased stress and anxiety.
However, despite announcing action to tackle congestion on the regions roads, the Mayor has reiterated his pledge not to implement a congestion charge for private road users (see airqualitynews.com story).
He said: Later this week my Expert Reference Group on congestion will meet to discuss the results of the Congestion Conversation and consider the proposals that have been put forward.
I am open to any idea except, along with my ten Council leader colleagues, introducing a Congestion Charge.
Until we have delivered major improvements to other modes of transport, and given them a genuine alternative to the car, you cannot hit them with an unavoidable tax simply for going to work.