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The State of the City’s... transport

The city council wants more planes, trains, but hardly any automobiles, reports Simon Binns

Written by . Published on August 6th 2010.

The State of the City’s... transport

Whether it’s congestion charging, high-speed rail or the colour of trams, transport is a big deal in Manchester.

There’s a dedicated transport fund of £1.5bn burning a hole in the city council’s pockets, and included on the shopping list are the four Metrolink expansion schemes; new cross-city bus routes; unclogging the bus traffic on Oxford Road, reducing traffic from the city centre generally; and building some new public squares.

It’s a crucial economic driver; a cornerstone of the city’s infrastructure. And in its current state, it’s arguably not quite good enough.

But let’s have a look at the statistics.

In 2009/10, 226.6m of us used the bus, 22.7m got on a train and 18m people caught a tram.

In percentage terms, rail journeys are up 29 per cent since 2005, while Metrolink usage has increased by two per cent. Costly – and often troublesome – track maintenance works impacted on passenger levels. Bus trips fell slightly by one per cent on 2005, possibly due to the fact that punctuality levels stood at 71 per cent – no comparative figures were given for whether that was better or worse than previous years.

Since 2005, car trips have decreased by 16 per cent, ‘partly due to the council’s traffic and parking management interventions’ – more about that next week – but the report also said a reduction in journeys may be due to the economic downturn.

A Greater Manchester Congestion Target Delivery Plan operates along six key routes in Manchester at a cost of £1m, to be spent, according to the report, on ‘traffic management schemes, signal changes and other measures that relieve congestion hot spots and improve journey time reliability’.

From 2005 to 2009, there was a 5.8 per cent improvement on person journey times. Four out of the six routes were deemed less congested.

The report also said that Manchester city centre is ‘highly accessible by public transport, foot or bike,’ and non-car journeys now account for more than two-thirds of all trips, an increase from 62.7 per cent in 2005 to 69.4 per cent in 2010.

Walking into the regional centre increased by 67 per cent, which the report put down to more city centre living and edge-of-city parking.

The Metroshuttle – the free bus that whizzes round three separate routes in Manchester, saw journey numbers rise by 14 per cent in three years to 2.6m.The report said residents’ satisfaction with bus, rail and tram services is ‘broadly improving’, although in 2009, 77 per cent of residents were satisfied with buses compared to 82 per cent in 2008.

Satisfaction with rail services was up to 80 per cent in 2009, compared to 73 per cent in 2008, and Metrolink managed to satisfy 89 per cent of its patrons, compared to 80 per cent in 2008.

So, what about priorities for the next year or two? There’s a dedicated transport fund of £1.5bn burning a hole in the city council’s pockets, and included on the shopping list are the four Metrolink expansion schemes (Chorlton to Didsbury, and Droylsden to Ashton, Rochdale and Oldham town centres); new cross-city bus routes between East Didsbury, Manchester, Middleton and Salford; unclogging the bus traffic on Oxford Road, reducing traffic from the city centre generally; and building some new public squares.

Also part of the plans is ‘the Wythenshawe (Woodhouse Park) Community Travel Plan/Workwise Demonstration Pilot’ which will ‘address worklessness and social exclusion by providing bespoke transport solutions and advice for jobseekers in deprived areas.' So more buses, in plain English. Openshaw and Gorton are also on the list for better public transport networks.

Motorists get something out of it as well – roads will be improved and potholes tackled. In 2009/10 Highway Services filled 32,414 potholes, apparently, an increase of 21 per cent on the previous year.

Better access to the airport is also a priority.

So there you go. Plans and surveys are all very well, but a straw poll of the Confidential office kept bringing up the words “unreliable” and “expensive”. What do you think?

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

D KesslerAugust 6th 2010.

I am most probably part of the 1% drop, abandoning the desolate bus service and driving instead...what a shame as I have been a frequent user of pubic transport services all over Europe (typically run by the council).

Whilst the situation is undoubtedly getting better in Manchester, with connection in and out of the centre improving, I wonder whether much needed east-west connections in the suburbs are also on the agenda...

tram boffinAugust 6th 2010.

1.8 million passenger on the tram for the past 18 months?

Three routes,operating 20 hours each per day at 6 minute intervals? or 200 journeys..

The trams can hold a maximum of 123 at a time?

Someones numbers dont add up here!!!

No wonder its cramped all the time!!

DeeAugust 6th 2010.

Eccles route every 12 mins (if that !!) not 6, all last week waited over half an hour due to something or other.. then its packed... think they need a re-think dont you think

Man in a shedAugust 6th 2010.

1.8 million over 18 months = 100k a month, or around 3,571 journeys per day.

Working on the basis of around 470 tram journeys per day*, this equates to an absurdly low 7.59 passengers each trip. Which means that for most of the day, trams are doing little else than carrying around lots of air.

* Worked out as:
i)Alty/Bury 0715-1830 (11 hours * 10 trams per hour = 110)
ii)Alty/Bury 0515-0715/1830-2330 (7 hours * 5 trams per hour = 35)
iii)Eccles 0530-2330 (18 hours * 5 trams per hour = 90)

This works out as broadly 235 tram journeys in each direction, or 470 trams in total per day.

Leigh ScottAugust 6th 2010.

isn't each tram supposed to arrive every six minutes on two of the routes? and 12 on the other? surely it's more if this is the case?

Man in a shedAugust 11th 2010.

Just noticed that the passenger figure according to www.deliveringtransport.co.uk/…/… the Metrolink passenger figures should be 19m per annum. This works out as around 52k per day, or a slightly more believable 110 passengers per journey.

GM sonAugust 12th 2010.

There is no proper accountability and cost effective management with regards to delivery of effective outcomes - where is the realtime information the smart cards the sustainable modes integrated? even Angleseys got realtime for gods sake! The top management layer at GMPTE is over proportionate and too costly - CEO gets £850k with 2 others
Check out:

Almost £860,000 paid for seconded directors by GMPTE
Crain´s Manchester Business reported this week that the Greater Manchester Public Transport Executive paid £857,000 for three of its executive directors to firms from which they are seconded - then the permanent staff gets £125k just less than the PM. Its all your money you know -make a stand!

AnonymousAugust 13th 2010.

Dear GM Son you can't have smart cards.. you voted against them in the TIF package, and realtime is currently provided by txt on the buses. Ask Stagecoach where it has gone on the tram since it is there responsibility.

If you hire peeps from the private sector you have to pay what the p s pays.

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