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Exclusive: Sir Howard Bernstein talks Congestion Charging

Sir Howard Bernstein replies directly to your questions about the Transport Innovation Fund bid

Published on July 8th 2008.

Exclusive: Sir Howard Bernstein talks Congestion Charging

A little under three weeks ago Confidential was invited to ask readers for sensible questions about the proposed £3bn Transport Innovation Fund - aka Congestion Charging. This has split the region like nothing since the build-up to the Commonwealth Games.

The idea was we would then forward the questions to Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council and one of the prime movers behind the so-called ‘transport revolution’. He would then answer the questions directly.

“Do you know how many there’ll be?” we said. “Does Sir H have a lot of free time?”

In the end the amount of questions not only blew them away, it blew us away. There were more than 280 rants/questions posted on the site in three days, and thousands and thousands of reads. And most of these were sensible and measured.

To cope with the sheer volume we decided to group questions on similar themes together. Sir Howard Bernstein’s responses are indicated by SHB in the text below, and the questions you posed are in italics.

Of course given the number of questions this is a long piece. But the replies will help people understand previously muddy issues. And there’s always more rant space beneath if you’re still not satisfied.


A number of readers including AN1973, Sanita, Rosalyn Dawson and Chris Heap, have asked why this is necessary as there is little/no congestion in Greater Manchester.

SHB Response: This is not the case. Congestion is an issue in Greater Manchester with average traffic speed during the morning peak falling by 20% since the turn of the decade and an increasing number of cars on the road. In fact GM peak journey speeds have gone from above average compared to similar conurbations in 1999/2000 to below average today. Compared to similar conurbations, GM has seen the highest reduction in peak average speed.

Rising congestion will have more and more of an impact over the next 10 years and will also impact on the future economic growth of Greater Manchester - as many as one in seven new jobs will be under threat if congestion is not tackled. We must continue to increase jobs going forward to ensure that Greater Manchester fulfills its full potential, but also to ensure that the 240,000 people currently out of the labour market can access jobs in the future.


Lucy and Jo S ask if all the improvements will be in place before the congestion charge is introduced while Stalybridge Girl suggests the improvements are put in first as does Chris W and Salford Lass. Harry Earthey asks about the timings.

SHB Response: The TIF package has been designed to provide drivers with a viable alternative to using their car so we have committed ourselves to ensuring at least 80% of the public transport improvements are in place before any charge can be implemented. We believe we will achieve this target by 2013 when the charge is due to become operational.

The Metrolink line to Trafford Park and the Trafford Centre will not be complete by 2013 therefore we are proposing a 50% reduction on congestion charge for that area until the optimal public transport package up and running.


Maz, Darren Sellers, Stephen Frith and a number of other readers ask if any of the money from the TIF proposals can be used to create a cyclist friendly environment.

SHB Response: Yes. A substantial sum of money has been set aside which will be used to create an additional 200km of new cycle tracks, 2,500 new secure bike storage lockers at train and tram stations and the setting up of a “Velib” bike hire scheme in the city centre.

We want to make cycling a viable alternative to using the car to cross the rings and to that end we want to create safe new cycle lanes.

We will also be developing a hire scheme modelled on the ‘Velib’ scheme currently operating successfully in Paris. The bike hire programme would be made up of a rental fleet of about 4,000 bikes based at 400 cycle racks around the city centre. We can extend this to other parts of Greater Manchester.

Anyone wanting to use one of these bikes would simply register as a member and pay a weekly or annual subscription plus a small charge if they wished to use the bike for more than half an hour. Security codes and special design features would help keep the bikes safe.


Richard in Chorlton asks if all the new tram stops are necessary as in his case Chorlton is already well served by buses.

SHB Response: It’s great to hear buses are serving Richard’s needs but the Metrolink running through Chorlton to East Didsbury in one direction and to Manchester Airport via Wythenshawe in the other will open up the public transport system to many thousands of people.

Louise asks which tram lines will definitely go ahead.

SHB Response: Visit the web for full details www.gmfuture
where there are clear maps of the proposed tram extensions. Phase 3a is already committed and underway, while broadly speaking TIF will deliver an additional 30 stops in areas including Ashton Under Lyne, Manchester Airport via Wythenshawe and Oldham and Rochdale town centres. Funds have also been earmarked for a line to Trafford Park and the Trafford Centre. With expansion already underway and the TIF additional expansion proposed the Metrolink will nearly treble in size to what it is today and will carry 70 million passengers a year compared to 20 million today.


Sarah C lives in Worsley and works near the Trafford Centre, she states there will be no improvements to get her to work.

SHB Response: Under TIF, at least 90% of people will be within a five minute walk of a bus service that on weekdays will run at least every 20 minutes during the day time and at least every 30 minutes for weekday early mornings and evenings and during the weekends. The new Metrolink will be designed to meet the needs of people like Sarah. We recognise public transport to Trafford Park is not great at present and also that the proposed Metrolink line will not be in place until around 2016, to that end a 50% discount has been proposed for drivers travelling to this area until all the public transport improvements are in place. However the public transport network will be greatly enhanced even ahead of the Metrolink arriving and full details will be published soon.

Dave C also asks how he will get to work?

SHB Response: New services will enable travel across the heart of the conurbation, for example from Middleton to Manchester Royal Infirmary and Chorlton, Ashton under Lyne to East Didsbury and Bolton to West Didsbury. Bus priority will be enhanced. New orbital links will be introduced every 20 minutes in central areas, allowing residents in places like Cheetham, Lower Broughton and Hulme to make journeys that are not currently easy – for instance to work and leisure opportunities at Salford Quays and Old Trafford. This orbital network will link to a shuttle service into Trafford Park.


Anonymous say they have two small children and it is just too far to walk to school – which is on the other side of the charging ring.

SHB Response: TIF will deliver 120 purpose built new yellow school buses which will mean a guaranteed seat for students, easier journeys and improved safety and security. Further funding will see this number increase to more than 300, totally transforming the school run.


Dave Telford and HCB1959 ask about plans for Park and Ride schemes.

SHB Response: The TIF package will double the number of park and ride spaces in Greater Manchester with an additional 3,800 spaces at a dozen existing sites and a similar number at seven new locations including Sale Water Park, Ashton town centre and along the route of the Leigh, Salford, Manchester Rapid Transit Bus Service.


A large number of Manchester Confidential readers have asked about the creation of an integrated system as part of the TIF package and the need to create an integrated public transport network is central to the TIF package.

SHB Response: New transport interchanges physically linking trains, buses and trams where appropriate are set to be created in Altrincham, Bolton, Stockport, Wigan and the city centre. New bus feeder routes will be set up running to rail and Metrolink stations and the timetables will be integrated to ensure smooth passage for commuters.

We will also be introducing a travel smart card like London’s Oyster card so people can travel seamlessly between trams, trains and buses without having to buy multiple tickets, carry the right change and general helping to make the network far more integrated.


Mrs M, Chris W, Mrs Siddhi and lots of other people have asked about a London style Oyster Card.

SHB Response: An Oyster card is something which TIF will bring. A travel smartcard is being developed with transport operators to ensure commuters can swap from bus to tram to train with the least possible fuss and use one ticket for the entire journey. It is hoped that this ticket will be pre-paid or topped up and can be used in much the same way as London’s Oyster card – even calculating the cheapest fares etc.


Carla says that Manchester is not London and Congestion Charging is therefore a poor model for us.

SHB Response: Carla states that Manchester is not London and she is right. That’s why we have rejected a London style congestion charge. Drivers in London are expected to pay a charge at any time of the weekday if they enter the congestion charge zone or simply for getting in their car and for driving around in the congestion charge zone. In Manchester you will only pay at peak times of the day Monday to Friday and only if you cross a ring.

Under TIF we are looking at introducing a limited peak-time only congestion charge which will tackle congestion at the times, places and direction that it does greatest harm to the economy of Greater Manchester.

The congestion charge is an intelligent charging system which will pick up vehicles heading towards Manchester between 7am and 9.30am Monday to Friday. It is based on two rings, drivers will pay £2 to cross the outer ring (just within the M60) and £1 to cross the inner ring. There will be no charge for vehicles heading away from Manchester.

Vehicles heading away from the city centre will be picked up between 4pm and 6.30pm, drivers will pay £1 to cross the inner ring and £1 to cross the outer ring. There will be no charge for vehicles heading towards Manchester at this time.

There will be no charge for vehicles travelling before 7am, between 9.30am and 4pm or after 6.30pm, there will be no charge for travelling at weekends and on Bank Holidays.

Eunice Kelly is worried she will be charged for travelling to Lytham St Annes every day.

SHB Response: There will be no charge for travelling around the M60 or the inner ring road and there will be no charge if drivers do not cross one of the rings during their journey.

Fewer than 20% of drivers will pay any charge at all and if charging is introduced in 2013 as planned, the average weekday charge will be no more than £3.60.


Phil Hardman asks why he should be penalised for travelling to work 20 miles outside Manchester.

SHB Response: The answer is that he will not be charged as he will be travelling against the peak time flow of traffic.

Jonny F from Whitefield asks if he would be charged for going to Tesco in Prestwich during peak times.

SHB Response: The answer is yes, he would pay £2 to cross the outer ring if he chose to go shopping between 7am and 9.30am Monday to Friday. He would not pay to exit. He would not pay if he waited until after 9.30am or at weekends or if he drove to Tesco during the evening peak when traffic heading away from the city centre is charged.

Irlam Lil asks about travel to the Trafford Centre.

SHB Response: Irlam Lil will not have to pay to travel to the Trafford Centre from Irlam if she remains within the outer ring, if she travels to the Trafford Centre via the M60 and then exits towards the city centre during peak times (7am -9.30am) she would face a £2 charge – though I believe the Trafford Centre does not open to the public until 10am so she should be able to avoid this charge also.

Dave also has a specific question about routes

SHB Response: Dave and his wife travel into Manchester from outside the outer ring, then cross back out again to get to work, they will have to pay £2 to cross the ring heading towards Manchester during the AM peak, but will not have to pay to exit again, you will pay only once. If your journey home means you do not have to re-cross the ring twice (in and out) you will avoid a charge during the evening peak. Alternatively Dave and his wife will be able to access a transformed bus network and pay no charge at all.

Anonymous asks about travelling to Manchester Airport via the motorway network.

SHB Response: S/he will not have to pay to travel on the M60.


Jinkies and Ant ask about discounts.

SHB Response: A number of different groups are set to receive discounts on the charge under the proposals being considered by AGMA. It has been proposed that buses, emergency vehicles, motorcycles, blue badge holders, Hackney cabs and private hire cabs should all get a 100% discount on the charge.

People with regular hospital appointments will also qualify for a 100% discount and it has also been proposed that low-income workers receive up to 20% off the cost of the charge and a potential 20% saving on public transport.

John from Fallowfield asks about Trafford Park and the Trafford Centre work.

SHB Response: A 50% discount has been suggested for this area as the Metrolink line will not be in place until about 2016, which means drivers will not have the full range of alternative options available to them and a discount was considered appropriate.

Margaret Tyson asks about concessions for delivery vans.

SHB Response: It has been proposed that the charge is capped at a maximum of £10 per day regardless of the number of times the rings are crossed during peak hours of the day. What I would urge Margaret to consider are the savings every company using the roads would gain in terms of time savings, less traffic on the roads means more deliveries can be made and the evidence from Stockholm where they already have a charge in place is that small businesses will benefit.


Manic Beancounter asks about how the £3bn is broken down between Metro, buses and trains and if council tax or UK tax will increase if there is an overspend?

SHB Response: The TIF package involves an investment programme of up to £3bn, of this £1.5bn will come in the form of a DfT grant, around £100 million will be provided from third party contributions and £1.2bn will be borrowed. This loan will be supported through the revenue generated by fares and from the congestion charging scheme.

The assumptions made around the repayment of the borrowed funds are based on prudent financial calculations which include a number of contingencies. These include:

  • Interest rates for the loan have been assumed at 6% per annum and could currently be financed at 4.82% (July 2008)
  • A contingency fund of £600 million – equivalent to 29% of the capital cost has been set aside. Any funds which remain unspent will be made available for additional local investment.

The TIF package is made up of £2.77bn which excludes the investment by operators in buses and improvements in the rail network which the Government will fund from other programmes.

Some of the key components in the package include:

Metrolink: £1,182bn
Congestion charge: £318m
Rail: £149m
Bus: £368m
Other schemes (interchanges etc): £526m

The costs of running the congestion charging scheme are estimated to be around £31 million at the same period, and taking all the figures into account, Greater Manchester will end up with a net revenue of £91 million by 2015/2016.

We are confident our figures are accurate and it should also be pointed out that the DfT have checked the figures very carefully and given their support for the TIF package - indicating their support of the figures.

Louise and Dave Simpson along with Martin Raynor ask what will happen once the £3bn loan is repaid.

SHB Response: It is important to point out that it is not a £3bn loan, it is a £1.2bn loan, all the proceeds generated for charging after the repayment of debt can go to further public transport improvements within Greater Manchester. The Government have guaranteed that we can retain all charging revenues for the next 30 years.


Chris Roughneen and Kathy amongst others ask if the proposals are really required if fuel prices are naturally regulating traffic levels.

SHB Response: Yes. The TIF package has been designed to break the link between sustained economic growth and rising levels of congestion as part of a long-term plan.

We cannot base Greater Manchester’s long-term growth strategy on short-term rising fuel prices. Even if fuel prices remain high it will simply provide temporary respite and will not address the long term need to improve public transport and provide a choice to travelers.


Simon Turner and Jo ask about a referendum and many other people have echoed this call.

SHB Response: The leaders of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) are considering a Greater Manchester wide referendum at their next meeting in July and if approved it would take place following the consultation which ends on October 10th.

Lancastrian asks what provision has been made for people living outside Greater Manchester.

SHB Response: There will be a thorough package of improved transport options for commuters approaching Greater Manchester from all neighboring areas. But in Lancashire case commuters will benefit from improved rail corridors through both Wigan and Bolton. They will also be able to access improved park and ride facilities in locations such as Horwich Parkway.

As regards the consultation, whilst we recognise the importance of consulting first and foremost with Greater Manchester’s residents, we are also committed to capturing the views of commuters from wherever and that is why our roving exhibition will be visiting key town and city centre locations where commuters are most likely to work and be able to visit on their lunch break.

You will also be able to give your view on the scheme online at www.gmfuture
No one is excluded in this consultation.


Fluffy is concerned about the impact on business.

SHB Response: Fluffy, all the proposals have been put forward with the intention of reducing the cost of congestion on business, not driving up business costs. Most businesses already identify congestion as costly and this underlines their ability to access the skills that they need.

However, we are about to enter a consultation and we would be delighted to hear the views of the business community. A large number of consultation events are taking place specifically aimed at business – more detail can be found at www.gmfuturetransport.co.uk/business and you can also request a meeting with the GMPTE team to discuss this matter further, many businesses have already done this so please do so.


Stacey Sykes and Si Madden ask about people who live in the city centre.

SHB Response: People who choose to live in the city centre will not be penalised for owning a car, they will not pay if they are travelling out of Manchester in the morning and back in again in the evening (see congestion charge above) and will not pay to drive around inside the inner ring as long as they do not cross the ring heading into Manchester in the morning and out between 7am and 9.30am. It is not like the London charge.

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76 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

Nice thought Mikey but if you are coming from an environmental perspective, the CC will cause more Co2 production in the world as a whole. Having a city centre with lots of shops means that more people are attracted to the centre and it feeds on itself. As business moves out, shops close down and we all jump in our cars to various retail parks, we'll pump out more CO2 and apparantly Polar bears will fall into the sea or something.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

i think its got to be done. As long as they do improve the transport links it'll be a good thing. it's going to happen sooner or later so manchester might as well benefit from having money to do it.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

Kev P - Just thought of another one... Vets

Mike SlatteryJuly 8th 2008.

Councilors may have to pay, but we all know that they will only claim every penny back in expenses.Also as in my original rant, how does the system propose to monitor blue badge users when transfering badges between vehicles? Don't tell me that a camera system will pick them up as they can't be left on the dash board as they will only slide around.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

So now we need to know what their questions are! If he is defending it so whole heartedly then what exactly are we being consulted about?

Kev PJuly 8th 2008.

Give me an example of one of these people who has NO choice but to use their car?

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

Anonymous, I was referring to your post concerning the high level of tax already endured by the motorist and the ever decreasing amount of road-space allocated to cars. You are quite right, reallocate road-space, sequence the traffic lights correctly and (my suggestion) unblock dead-ends to encourage flows of traffic, this would soon remove congestion.With regard the businesses affected. You refer to large organisations which occupy large prestigious Manchester CC. Of course they exist and whilst some firms have to have a presence in major cities they will watch their costs like any other. Lose a couple of these big employers and you lose a lot of people. My point, however, is there are many smaller businesses and for every 100 people employed by the big boys there must be 200 (rough guess) employed in smaller businesses. I work with various businesses within the City centre and within the M60 such IT co's, printers, rag-trade, a few innovative business, Web cost and retail outlets. The total employ for those businesses is about 150 and I can only see 3 of them surviving with the burden of a CC.I think relying on the BBC moving to Manchester to save the economy is a long shot. Already on Radio 5 live they’ve cited the proposed congestion charge as a problem. That said, I only see a watered down move from the capital and despite an easy cop out in blaming the proposed congestion charge, the reality is incompetent public sector change management (has anyone heard of an organisation relocating from London to a cheaper part of the country yet COSTING more money?) is likely to be at the heart of problem here. The sooner the BBC is privatised and the public aren’t held to ransom by media luvvies, the better. Privatise it and get rid of all that deadwood

spiderJuly 8th 2008.

Why is the charge £2 for crossing the M60 and not £1 - most of the congestion is caused by cars going into the city centre, no? If you work at Crumpsall Hospital on a shift pattern or need to take small children to nursery every day and live outside the M60 you will pay £3 a day - where as drive into town from Salford Quays or Didsbury and you'll pay £2 - not exactly aimed at penalising the short journey is it? I don't think it's meant to be a congestion busting scheme it's a wauy of paying for infrastructure we should have been getting for years - but AGMA , GMPTE and the Govt have let the transport system go to the dogs and not had any long term strategy to hand apart from this.

eddy rheadJuly 8th 2008.

I keep reading people bleating that they HAVE to drive their kiddywinks seven miles to primary school or HAVE to drive from Warrington to Heaton Mersey (for example). Doing such things is just madness and can i suggest that these people a) find a school closer to their homes or a home closer to the school and b) find a job closer to their home or find a home closer to their job! Such practises are unsustainable in the long term and people are going to have take long hard look at how they live their lives in the near future and make some radical changes to those lives and become less dependent on their cars. If they dont start preparing now its going to hurt all the more when they have no choice.

Jo SJuly 8th 2008.

Kev P - so basically those with no choice who HAVE to use their cars will HAVE to pay the charge. Very fair indeed.

The Elder StatesmanJuly 8th 2008.

I love the way peoples questions were selectively picked to sort of closely fit the pre-written answers.I live in Warrington and Work in Heaton Mersey Stockport.I drive and I am always going to have a seat. If I get the train, even allowing for traffic jams, it will add between 45 mins and 1.5 hours each way to my journey and no promise of a seat, and no choosing the time I leave the house or leave work, I would have to fit the train times and wait arround cold draughty stations in the winter cold and wet from standing on badly lit stations with little or no shelter.Even with the con charge, it will cost me more money as well as more time to use public transport. The actual money could be a lot more than a couple of quid a day, because everyone's time has a value, and in my industry the freelance rate is between £35-80 an hour. If it takes me an additional 3 hours a day of my time, then my earning potential has been reduced between £115 and £240 a day.I guess when 2013 comes round I will have withdrawn my labour from the Manchester area and as a manager looking forward to the glut of canditates to look forward to as the exodus begins.

Jo SJuly 8th 2008.

In response to those of you who are calling me lazy - I think you are missing my point. I really haven't a problem with a bit of walking (in fact I love walking and used to quite happily walk the 2.5 miles from the tram stop to home (due to the fact that it was quicker than waiting for the bus!) - the issue I have is that when I need to get to work I want the quickest and easiest option which unfortunately means by car. I totally agree that there needs to be radical changes to the transport infrastructure but is congestion charging really the best way forward. Afterall if everyone who travels to Manchester decides to get public transport, no-one will be paying the charge anyway and therefore not raising the necessary money needed.

ClareJuly 8th 2008.

Well that slightly clarifies things, but I still don't like it.

traffic speedJuly 8th 2008.

6 years ago driving to work I'd leave home at 8:15 and arive by 8:45. Now if I leave home after 8am I will not arrive before 9. I don't agree with the way they have gone about this charge, and don't know if I agree with the charge at all - but people who say traffic hasn't got worse, live in a different city to me. So I'm open to suggestions.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

That answer to the first point saying traffic speeds are down 20% who did that calculation..I bet pro congestion consultants. I just dont believe it.

The Elder StatesmanJuly 8th 2008.

To the person who suggested I move from my home in Warrington to be closer to my job in Heaton Mersey, what a fool.Are you suggesting I take a mortgage twice the size it is currently, to buy a worse property, and then begin the renovations, and pay council tax that is twice the size it is now, just to avoid the charge.Or alternatively, change career now, pay for training and go back from a technical managerial position to a junior in a new field and struggle to pay my current mortgage to take a local job (local jobs are the nuclear industry, parcel delivery or fast food) which begs the what does an IT manager who doesn't want to pay the congestion charge say at work? "Do you want fries with that?"Don't be silly, the most sensible answer is to move my work to another city with a strong internet development community and work there and sit back to watch the Manchester brain drain.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

Thanks SHB for clearing away some of the confusion surrounding this issue. The problem of congestion is in its own right very significant: Manchester has some of the slowest moving traffic in Europe (some studies put the average speed at around 17mph). But in addition to this, it's worth pointing out that very few cities that possess major financial and legal sectors - as Manchester has now - are able to maintain their competitiveness without a well-developed, integrated transport system. A lack of such a system seems likely in the medium and long terms to limit significantly the growth potential of the G Manchester economy - especially when combined with the issue of congestion. This means a smaller economic base, fewer jobs in a less competitive market, and a more disparate population with a considerably smaller diversity of job opportunities. In other words, employment opportunities are likely to be considerably smaller without an integrated public transport network than with one. Ensuring that such a network is constructed places Manchester in a much more competitive position when it comes to attracting a variety of high-paying, prestige firms - especially given how fierce the competition is between provincial English cities. (Leeds, Birmingham etc. are generally not laughing at Manchester's TiF bid "death wish"; they're concerned that Manchester's current economic edge will develop into an unsurmountable lead given that its public transport infrastructure will be light years ahead of their own.) Ensuring that the city region is more attractive to prestige business increases Manchester's competitiveness and renders it more attractice to other industries, such as the service and culture industries. This means greater, more diverse and better paying employment opportunities for local people (and future generations of local people) and an increased incentive for people to move to the region from elsewhere in the UK. A package of similar magnitude to the £3bn intended for investment in G Manchester's public transport system - which is fundamental to consolidating and expanding its current economic base - is very unlikely to be made available again for generations. The question is not whether Manchester should introduce congestion charging in order to secure this immense sum: it's whether it can afford not to.

Kev PJuly 8th 2008.

I couldn't agree more with Anthony - It's the anti-charge camp led by Peel Holdings that is spouting all the scaremongering soundbites. The difficulty with the yes campaign is going to be to get ALL of the information across to the public in a way that they can digest it easily. Often this means reducing it to simple soundbites but the difficulty with this is that you can't do that!

beebulJuly 8th 2008.

When will people realise that what politicans say and what happens in reality are two completely different things. Say no to the Con Charge now, I guarantee that in the future we'll look back on these responses and see how few of them have come true.As soon as this system is in place Phase 2 will kick in and many more people will be penalised.We won't get a world-class transport system because so many of the people involved in this system are purely in it for themselves./Waits for Kev P (AKA Mr TIF, AKA Mr Pro Con Charge) to arrive with his gibberings.

SpenderJuly 8th 2008.

Firstly,I'm all for a passionate response but disgusted at the way people speak to each other. There is NO reason to be insulting. At that goes for people from both sides of the argument. I lived in London for several years before coming back home. There the vast majority of folk use the public transport system and it works well. they and I manage to stand at tube/train/bus stops in all weathers. So what makes the people of Manchester so special that they can't too? The major difference is that they have a public transport system that works, if not always perfectly, it is still pretty good. Manchester doesn't and we need one. The TIF bid is possibly the only way we will get one. To do that they have to impose a congestion charge. This is prob inevitable to beat the def increased traffic and pollution levels, so I am broadly in favour of it. However, we need greater promises regarding capping it in the future. Also, the proposed investments will still not give a thorough network of transport that reaches fairly across the whole system. Some areas of the city will be very well served by a range of transport i.e Sale, Bury, Chorlton. Other areas i.e most of Salford will not be. The comparative CC system in the UK in London does not include the same distance out of the city as this does. This charge effectively covers the entire city which I believe to be too great an area. Would it not be fairer to charge the areas that are well served earlier then as more funds come in to build the services in not so well served areas apply the charge then?

BigfishJuly 8th 2008.

Why's Kev P gone so quiet?

RichardJuly 8th 2008.

Same old story - London gets Crossrail at huge expense with no additional cost to taxpayers. We get an extension to the overcrowded shabby Metro and we all have to pay for it. This is a joke - nobody wants to pay a congestion charge. What we want is a decent public transport system at a fair price, which is taken for granted in most other European cities! Why can't the bus/tram companies invest some money in their services to make them attractive and encourage us to get out of our cars. At the moment they are just milking their crappy routes to maximise profits with no thought for passengers.

ScottyDooJuly 8th 2008.

Tyldesley is getting a brand new express bus!!! Whoop!Oh no.... Wait, we already have one!!The easiest way to do this and get away with it, ask our work place to allow us to start at 7am and let us finish at 3pm. Outside of the charging times and then fat boy above and his mate Mr Leech, sorry, Leese, can't get their big bonus and have their cushy meals and claim more expenses at our expense. Oh another point, will they be paying the congestion charge or will they be exempt, like most "politicians".

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

Anthony McCaul you ark for real debate, there is plenty debate but simply put, the pro-camp only want questions that can be answered with a sound - bite where they think simple folk will be taken in.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

I welcome the investment, but i'm not happy with how GM plans to recoup this money. We already pay road tax, parking, high fuel cost, high insurance, high MOT fees - al discriminatory and what do we get in return? daily targeting and ever increasing penalties, blamed for poluting and climate change. Why are the motorist having to pay for the countrys' financial problems. Why penalise the motorist for driving vehicles with clean engines? Why reduce the width of the roads and at the same time reduce the speed limit, then blame us for traffic jams and polution? Unreasonable parking fees and time has driven motorist out of town centres and onto retail parks. Over ten years ago the heart of Manchester was nearly ripped out by "outsiders." Could the same happen by these plans? Improve the city, but let us use drive into it

rick_xJuly 8th 2008.

If the public transport infrastructure improvements are as good as Sir Howard Bernstein says then why would we need a congestion charge?After all, if what he says is true, then getting public transport would be so much easier and people wouldn't need to be coerced financially to use it, wouldn't they??Or is it just ANOTHER tax on the people of Manchester...

Ali McGowanJuly 8th 2008.

"As business moves out, shops close down and we all jump in our cars to various retail parks, we'll pump out more CO2" - surely the net effect is negligible - instead of driving into the city centre, people drive to retail parks. They're still driving either way, so there's not much of an argument there. And if CC does happen and the public transport improvements do happen, people will have more methods+routes to use instead of their car anyway, so again I don't buy your argument I'm afraid. As for whether I support the CC - not sure yet. I do support the principle of investing a massive sum of money in public transport because right now our system is nothing compared with London's, in that covearge needs improving and it needs to be more integrated. I agree with you Malby. Now, if the CC+TIF provides the step-change we need in investment and Manchester's attitude to public transport then maybe we gotta bite the bullet...

Kev PJuly 8th 2008.

Excellent response and I think it clears quite a few things up that people I have spoken to were concerned about. Now a concerted 'YES' campaign needs to take place to get this message out to all the people who don't read Manchester Confidential and are being plied with rubbish by the anti-charge campaign! If anyone supports the TIF bid and the charge or wants to find out more information about the bid, visit this Facebook group - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17193979785

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

health inspectors

Kev PJuly 8th 2008.

Jo - it is the only way forward, because without the congestion charge paying back the loan, we wouldn't get the money in the first place, simple as that. On your last point, it would be beautiful if everyone switched to public transport and there were no more cars on the road but the reality is that someone people HAVE to use cars and some people will still just choose to use them, so there will always be cars on the road raising the money. What I don't understand is why road users (not yourself but while I'm replying I might aswell say it here!) say that there are no benefits for them - I have seen the traffic coming into Manchester in the morning, surely getting rid of some of this and giving everyone a quicker, stress free journey is a benefit?!

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

There's not enough detail in any of SHB's answers - nothing written above gives any more information than has already been published. Typical Labour - keep repeating the same old lines... I won't be voting for the CON charge unless clearer detail of the proposed improvements are published.

malbyJuly 8th 2008.

Sounds like things will be made a good deal worse in Worsley and Salford as a whole. Currently public transport in the Salford area is much more expensive than in south Manchester and there is only one bus company on most routes (First Busses). It seems that if you travel through Manchester (not to Manchester) or Trafford park in a car you will be stung and be a good deal worse off. I would happily put money on the expensive bus prices in Salford increasing in price as a result of this charge, so it will mean that no matter how you get around in Manchester your commute will take longer or cost more. A much better idea than congestion prices would be to simply put a big tax on car parking in Manchester and the surrounding area, it would cost little and in one swoop revenue would be created and congestion reduced, due to the simplicity of this idea it could even be trailed relatively easily.The main thing I dislike about this congestion charge is that most of the money seems to be pigeon holed for the metrolink, this only benefits those who live on the proposed or existing metrolink, in fact many people in my area (Irlam O’th Heights) drive to a park and ride scheme at ladywell, will they be charged for the congestion they cause on the way to the metrolink?None of the answers above tells me anything about how public transport in Salford will get better or cheaper. As a frequent public transport bus commuter I cannot see the benefit of a congestion charge in a relatively uncongested area (M61 and M62 are far more congested than once you get inside the M60).

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

I really can't see how beefy Bernstein can show concern about the "240,000 people currently out of the labour market" when the proposals will shatter the local economy.

The Gemster!July 8th 2008.

I currently live in Eccles and work in the far end of Ancoats....in order for me to get to work driving - it takes me 30 minutes each way. If I decided to use public transport, I will have a 30 minute walk to the tram stop as i cannot see them extending the tram line or.......I walk to the bus stop......get a bus to the tram station.....wait for a tram.....get a tram from Eccles to Picadilly.....walk for another 15 minutes to the office.Jeez....by the time I get into work - it will be time to go home!!!!RANT OVER!!!! :)

Margaret TysonJuly 8th 2008.

I agree with Dave Telford about the impact on businesses. I did not only ask about delivery vans but businesses such as electrical contractors who need to go into Manchester to do essential maintenance and emergency repairs. Not only are they hit by higher fuel prices but also these charges - they will have to increase their prices. This could put them out of business...I'm not against congestion charging for casual travellers or those who can use public transport but it will be difficult for many businesses.

Dave telfordJuly 8th 2008.

I've been credited with a question to which I certainly did not ask, moreover, Bernsteins answer does not answer.Did Man Confidential just get Bernstein's set propaganda answers and fit some questions around them?

Jo SJuly 8th 2008.

Kev P - You said yourself in your previous rant that "some people HAVE to use their cars".

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

plumbers, electricians, mechanics

malbyJuly 8th 2008.

why do the school busses need to be yellow, does anyone know????

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

Anthony McCaul, the sound-bites I talk of are those coming from fatty Bernstein in piece above. They are just a load of re-hashed quotes from the propaganda on the pamphlets etc.I'm not sure if "TIF will put your family holiday in danger" is scaremongering nonsense, it sounds optimistic to me for many it will mean a loss of business, employemnt and livelihood. The escheme really is a selfich act by some jumped up council clerks who want to play big projects whilst risking the economy of the region.

SimonJuly 8th 2008.

Oh no, 15 minutes of walking! Your heart will thank you for it when you don't die at 40 from a complete lack of exercise!

malbyJuly 8th 2008.

I don't think i can see many answers at all in the article most of the questions are still unanswered.

Anthony McCaulJuly 8th 2008.

Well done Confidential for getting the answers to peoples' questions and starting the ball rolling. We need an informed debate on the real issues not the rubbish and hyperbole coming from the antis. This is really useful and is the kind of thing we need to see more of. I fully support the bid; the massive investment in public transport will create a world class system for people all over greater manchester, giving people real choice about the transport they use. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to give us a transport system we can be proud of and one that will help us retain and build on our economic success. Bring on real debate.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

homehelp, meals on wheels

redbullJuly 8th 2008.

hahaha yellow school busses my arse. 120 busses split between 41 high schools and 133 primary schools in city of manchester alone. Maths wasn't my strong point but I dont think it works. (thats not taking into account Bury, Salford, Tameside, Oldham, trafford, stockport, and the rest of greater manchester) GROW A BRAIN BERNSTEIN!!!!!

malbyJuly 8th 2008.

I agree its only gonna make public transport more expensive, i don't understand why we can't just have a city centre parking tax (actually i can its so that the goverment can impose the trial of a system sold to them by the only business that will gain from this .... the consultants!)

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

Hmmm, I asked a number of questions regarding the impact on business and the impact on the economy, were these questions too difficult for him or did you simply not want to upset him?

Jo SJuly 8th 2008.

Even taking into account the planned improvements to the public transport infrastructure, it would still mean that I have a 5 min walk to the bus stop, a 10 min bus journey, a 30 min tram ride and a further 10 min walk to the office. In the car it currently takes around 40 mins, door to door. Unless we get trams or buses running directly to the City Centre from Tottington/Walshaw then I see no option but to drive to work! At least I will be warm, dry and not have to fight for a seat! Also, shouldn't there be discounts for two or more people travelling in the same car?

Kev PJuly 8th 2008.

Malby, if your questions aren't answered then contact the team at http://www.gmfuturetransport.co.uk and I am sure they will do their best to answer them.

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

anonymous, I'm glad to see you are starting to realise the errors in your earlier posts. I'll just make a simple point, you seem confident (in your last but one contribution) that any firm moving out of the central of outer zones will automatically set up business in the outlying areas of Greater Manchester. This is unlikely, the reality is that we'll look to move further afield and take the opportunity to rationalise business with a view to outsourcing not only out of the region but into different continents. There are certain adavantages of being in a central location, if that is negated by the costs of getting staff, then we look elsewhere, it's as simple as that. You may think this is harsh but realities are that we must protect the business.

Chris PaulJuly 8th 2008.

The point about fares being less than the charge is not a fair one, geddit? Though they might be for those with a round trip of £5 i.e. from outside at peak time in both directions. Though from just outside the inner area e.g. Chorlton Bus Station the current return bus fare is more than £2 for one person. Though cars of course tend to have space for four or five.The true cost of a commute at peak time includes the wear and tear, the fuel at lower mpg, the road tax, maintenance, depreciation, insurance etc saved if someone reduces their household vehicles AND in many cases the parking fees and tickets and bumps and scrapes that go with urban driving and arriving. Insurers might even develop a Manchester model of lower insurance rates for those who retain cars but don't regularly commute in them or use them for work.

Chris PaulJuly 8th 2008.

This is the beginning of the process and this and other similar Q and As from SHB are a good way of getting started. Meanwhile the grumpy member for Manchester Withington must have a sore arse from sitting on the fence and trying to have it both ways. But then again he is a Lib Dem and all being well will be an ex-MP by the time any charge starts.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

Dave, my second post didn't retract anything I said in my first post - the consultation is a process and I'm keen to highlight where the proposals could be improved, rather than throw the whole idea out of the window. Your point about companies using this opportunity to rationalise their business processes and outsource where there is an economic advantage is well taken - but I would like to hear specifically which businesses you thinks these might be. The economic base of the conurbation has changed fundamentally in recent years, and while such businesses undoubtedly exist in G Manchester - substantially in Trafford Park - as I mentioned in my first point, a substantial bulk of the regional economy already comprises retail, financial and legal industries, and these industries, along with life science (through the city's Knowledge Capital scheme), cultural and media (through the BBC, media:city and so on), are very likely to grow where so-called "traditional" manufacturing and logistical industries are likely to become less important - relatively speaking. Communication (including mass transit) is fundamental to the existence of these new industries, and a decent mass transit system (combined with a major airport) will only boost inward investment in this capacity. My point is that any disincentive the congestion charge represents does not outweigh the potential benefits that will be delivered on Manchester with the establishment of a well-developed and highly integrated transport system. I think city centre retail is extremely unlikely to be affected by the congestion charge in the medium an long terms, especially as the charge is targeted specifically at the rush hour, when most people are journeying to work or taking their children to school. "Pollution" shouldn't be taken to extend merely to CO2 emissions; it is a more general term for observing the negative impact that an over-reliance on cars - noise, fumes, congestion, unsafe roads and so on - can have on the urban environment.

Jo SJuly 8th 2008.

Kev P - so basically those with no choice who HAVE to use their cars will HAVE to pay the charge. Very fair indeed.

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

Put this in perspective and how it affects the average chap. Assuming his/her employer stays in the region, the average chap earns £22,000, tax / Ni is £7040 leaving £14,960 council tax £1,600 leaves £13,360 to pay £1300 congestion tax/charge. At £1,300 the scheme takes a further 10% off the average persons income so he pays over to the various greedy layers of govt / local govt / Quangos nearly 50% of his/her wage......and this is supposed to be good for the economy, Bernstein et al you are robbing from the poor to pay for your egos.

Anthony McCaulJuly 8th 2008.

Utter rubbish Dave, I want a proper debate so people can make an informed decision. Crap coming from the no camp such as "TIF will put your family holiday in danger" is scaremongering nonsense. The whole point about the Bid is that it doesn't fit in a simple sound bite! I'd love to say "I support peak time week day only one way congestion charging as part of a £3 billion investment in public transport improvements in greater manchester" but i'd have no breath left and every sentence would last about 5 years! you antis have it easy - you can just say "congestion charge is bad" without any nuance and pretend its some big bad scheme rather than the complicated proposal with (many) pros and cons that it is.

JinkiesJuly 8th 2008.

So councillors won't get a discount then? Got to admit that's surprised me somewhat, especially with news of the new super carpark. Good news though, and thanks Mr B - overall I quite like the way this is looking, but then I'm in favour of the charge, just hope everyone else that reads this looks at the forest, not just the trees. Colour me cynical about it definitely only being peak times and not weekends, I bet there's a silent 'yet' in that statement somewhere ;)

NikJuly 8th 2008.

"Irlam Lil will not have to pay to travel to the Trafford Centre from Irlam if she remains within the outer ring, if she travels to the Trafford Centre via the M60 and then exits towards the city centre during peak times "So .. we now have to walk to the Trafford Centre from Irlam...? How else are people supposed to get there.. on the one road that leads there through Eccles..

katJuly 8th 2008.

If we choose to ditch our cars and take up public transport as this whole idea is designed to incentivise, can I then pay less car/council tax??

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

Being asked to be to have confidence with the finance figures when it say's there is £1,182bn for Metrolink, I think they mean million.

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

Anonymous says...I've just C & P from the GMTE website...in your conclusion - The question is not whether Manchester should introduce congestion charging, it is how many of the jumped up council clerk scan get their nose in the trough to feather their own nests despite the adverse effects it has on working people.

Dave TelfordJuly 8th 2008.

Of course, when all this comes in (IF) Bernstien will assume the rules don't apply to him. I remember in the Commonwealth games, A chap strolling around every function with a huge fat cigar when clearly there were no smoking signs all over. "Who is that fat C*!%" I asked, Oh, Someone Bernstein, he works for the council of something.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

Undertakers, doctors, estate agents...

redbullJuly 8th 2008.

how very dare they compare manchester to stockholm. Of course its reduced traffic in stockholm cos they figured out along time ago how to make trains run on time- something which will remain a mystery to our government for the forseable future.

bicycling buserJuly 8th 2008.

Are the fares for using public transport going to be less than the congestion charge? Otherwiser wither the insentive to give up your own space? Also will there be actual enforcement of the no smoking, no offensively loud music on the buses/trams?There is currently no detail on what will be done to encourage cyclists. Will there be separate cycle lanes, with kurbs? will motorists be towed for parking in them? will delivery lorries/buses be encouraged to not block cycle lanes while they do their essential jobs. What levels of police/maintainance patrols will there be on the off road cycle paths to ensure commuter safety? Just a few thoughts for you. In principle the charge is a good idea, but as will so much it will all come down to the council pulling their collective finger out, and doing a good job 'before' taking money off the commuters.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

This assumes that the person in question has to cross both rings in order to get to and from work, is not entitled to any discounts and chooses not to take advantage of the improved public transport that will be made available. If s/he chooses the latter, the £1300 in question no longer represents an outgoing. If s/he drives and doesn't have to travel across both rings, the cost is reduced. If s/he qualifies for a reduction, the cost is reduced. Of course, the cost of travelling by public transport needs to be taken into account, and it is high in Britain by comparison to many EU countries - one of the key questions that should be posed during the consultation, I think, should be the issue of transport subsidies. (Devolving greater responsibility for transport to city regions is precisely what is required in order to resolve this issue.) However, fuel consumption and wear and tear on the car - plus perhaps the possibility of some households being able to reduce the number of cars they own - also affect the numbers provided. The picture is a little more complicated than some are making out to be.Another important question in the consultation, I agree, is how transport for those living outside the conurbation will improve. Overall I think it will improve, but it is a question of degree - will it improve enough. It's worth pointing out that when a person is driving, the amount of work s/he can do is severely limited by the need to operate the vehicle; when s/he is sat on a train/tram/bus, it is less limited. A large number of people commute between Manchester and Leeds by train, for instance, who are able to work while on their way to work while those who drive cannot.I don't think there will be an exodus away from the Manchester area. The distribution of industry across the conurbation is likely to change, with certain industries currently situated in central Manchester relocating to outlying parts of the conurbation. This is not necessarily a bad thing; indeed, it's potentially beneficial to the likes of Bury, Oldham, Wigan, Warrington, etc. These places shouldn't be seen as Manchester's outright competitors. Leeds and Birmingham are its principal competitors.I'm not sure what any of this has to do with ego. It's about ensuring that the economy of the Manchester region - and the jobs that it is capable of providing for its population - is secured over the long term.

The ColonelJuly 8th 2008.

No comment whatsoever about road improvements for those that do need to use cars. A project on this scale cannot be complete without road improvements - and I don't mean more bollards, chicanes, humps and the like - I mean improvements that actually enable drivers get from A to B more quickly and safely. Just potentially reducing traffic does not improve the road network.

Kev PJuly 8th 2008.

I didn't realise I had fans Bigfish! What would you like me to say?!

MikeyJuly 8th 2008.

as noted, there appears to be a lot of unsubstantiated 'Daily Mail' type doom conjecture about the economic implications with no hard evidence. How do people get to the shops now in the city centre now? Tardis? The TIF proposals will make it easier for people to get to out of town shopping Trafford Centre and to the city centre but without driving. that means that they can shop and have a drink if they fancy it too! as for the idea that firms will close because cars won't drive past them...utter rubbish. the CC is only in force until 9.30am. not sure many people are out there hitting the tills at that time in the morning. any firm that relies only on drive-by advertising probably deserves to go to the wall. as for the persistent moan about over-taxed motorists etc - BBC and other reports this week cite that costs of motoring have fallen by 18% since 1988. more cars, more pollution, more congestion (car ownership is expected to increase by another 1/3 in the next decade) - about time the 'poor motorists' accepted they are on a good deal and should pay more for the damage and disruption they cause. news.bbc.co.uk/…/30-05-08_2…

malbyJuly 8th 2008.

If we get a Public transport system like London BEFORE the charge would come in i would be for it...... unfortunately i can't see that it will be possible, in London (correct me if i'm wrong) it is a public system, its not here. The main issues as i see it is that even when it is all in place it still will be difficult to get from anywhere to anywhere other than the City Centre, if you need to cross the city centre the car will still be the only real option. The other thing that niggles a little is the comparison with London, if you draw a direct comparison Manchester is not congested.

mikeyJuly 8th 2008.

there are a lot of negative comments that are linked to unfounded economic concerns. however, one of the central dynamics of CC is to improve the levels of pollution in the city. cleaner air and less congestion on the roads will improve Manchester's environment and make the roads safer. moreover, as with the regeneration of the central urban spaces in the past decade, it will once make Manchester a cutting-edge city which lead and affect change across Europe.

BenJuly 8th 2008.

Had to rant re the Jo S posting above. So the poor lady may have a 10 min longer journey to work and may have to walk a little bit. That doesn't constitute "No option" it just means you have to make a choice you lazy so and so. She is symptomatic of the kind of decadent society that we've become. It's weird to think that a couple of generations ago few people had cars and it was accepted that public transport was the normal way to travel. Due to a phenomenal rise in living standards and short sighted governments that changed, but the reality is that congestion charging or not, the lazy, verging on oathetic Jo S's of this world are in for a rude awakening. If we're not careful before too long we'll all be walking to work, assuming of course that we've got jobs to go to! So there

AnonymousJuly 8th 2008.

I don't buy the Yellow School Bus idea - They are of little benefit to those with small children as they need to be acompanied to school, unless the bus allows adults to travel with them and makes the return journey to drop the parents back off again.

Kev PJuly 8th 2008.

How funny beebul that I was typing my response as you predicted it, you must be psychic! I am curious about my other names, it seems I am infamous! But no, I am not Mr TIF, just someone who can see past his own nose and realises that Manchester needs this!

Jo SJuly 8th 2008.

In response to Simon: I would like to point out that I also walk my dog for 40 mins each morning and an hour after work so I think my heart is fine thank you very much! I was merely stressing the point that the journey to work on public transport is not really much fun (particularly in winter). If Sir Howard can guarantee that public transport will cost less, trams will not break down and that my bus will turn up on time, then fine, I might just give it a go!

beebulJuly 8th 2008.

one thing that strikes me about these rants. The pro brigade is extremely arrogant and speak as if anyone who disagrees with them has the intellectual capacity of a three year old. Why anyone can't see that this govt. answer to every problem is tax, tax and more tax... yet that tax just goes into fat cats pockets - not into the areas where it is needed. A world class transport system in Manchester - give me a break... MCC couldn't deliver that even if it had a trillion of our tax £'s. In 2013 we'll look back and see how we were hoodwinked/ bullied into this new tax. I think it's disgusting the Govt and basically saying we're not going to improve your city unless you accept this bid! Public transport will be just as bad except it will be even more packed and twice as expensive.

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