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Exclusive: Transport Policy Debate - Mind The Gap

"We need to communicate better," says transport chief. Tiny concessions but nothing else for campaigners

Written by . Published on June 27th 2013.

Exclusive: Transport Policy Debate - Mind The Gap

Part One - A debate summed up

MANCHESTER City Council (MCC) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have admitted they need to communicate city centre transport changes much better.

"Please listen to us. In today’s climate it's hard to survive. These issues are very important."

A full detailed plan of infrastructure developments proposed for the city centre will be created so people can see where the bus lane, parking, road narrowing and Metrolink second city centre crossing measures are taking Manchester. 

This assurance was given at a recent debate on city centre transport strategy coordinated and chaired by Manchester Confidential and hosted by the Yang Sing restaurant on Princess Street. 

Other concessions were few and far between. And mostly small or vague.

Tourist guides will be allowed to take visitor coaches along bus routes, although the details have to be worked out, and the issue of not allowing private hire cabs to use bus lanes might be examined by MCC and TfGM.

That was it though. Oh, and maybe some extra signs around the city could be provided to direct people to areas such as Chinatown.

Little else was offered in the way of comfort for the assembled and very worried Mancunians.

The audience included representatives of restaurants, tourism, retail, hotels, bars, media, the heritage industry, taxis and residents of the city centre.

Cllr Joan Davies, a city centre ward councillor, was present. 

Representing MCC and TfGM were Councillor Nigel Murphy of MCC Executive and Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of TfGM.

The meeting was initially called because of specific concerns over the bus priority schemes along Oxford Road and around Chinatown.

This developed into the need for a more general debate expressing a growing sense of unease about the incremental changes witnessed over the last few years in the city centre around parking, road closures and restrictions and the planned Metrolink second crossing. 

A key issue was this. Most people in the audience prior to the changes being implemented in earnest two years ago didn't think there was a city centre congestion or transport problem. So why was the whole of the city centre infrastructure being reconstructed?  

Cllrs Fender and Murphy explained that in the next decade the city centre is expected to gain 50,000 jobs. Any rise in car usage in the city centre above the 27, 000 people who already arrive would clog up the city centre especially in light of changes such as the Metrolink second city crossing. They explained that more people have to be encouraged onto buses, trams, trains and bikes for Manchester to reach its carbon emission targets and for the city centre to function efficiently.

There was incredulity at MCC and TfGM's belief that 50,000 jobs would be created in the next ten years and people wondered where the proof of this lay. The 50,000 jobs figure apparently comes from "projections". (As this story goes live Manchester city centre may lose jobs with Direct Line insurance cutting back, and of course the Government has just announced more public service cuts as part of its austerity programme).

The main issues people in the audience brought up concerned:

- Early evening and Sunday morning street parking charges;

- Disbelief over how buses could ever be flexible enough in their operation to maximise the number of people entering and leaving the city centre;

- Questions over how if public transport isn't coping now what certainty was there that it would in the future - city centre congestion on event and match days is worse than it's ever been;

- Questions over MCC and TfGM's vision of how people in private cars and cabs use the city and how it seems to differ widely from most in the audience;

- Whether consultations with MCC and TfGM mean anything. 

Concert chaos prior to Robbie Williams' gigs because people wouldn't do as they are told by MCC and TfGM and not go through the city centre

Concert chaos prior to Robbie Williams' gigs because people wouldn't do as they are told by MCC and TfGM and not go through the city centre

Cllrs Fender and Murphy batted away criticism and questions by stating that the changes had to be made for the future of the city, though there would be disruption and problems. Sadly they had no specific model of the proposed city transport changes in the UK or the world within a city of the same scale as Manchester and with a similar make-up.

Time and again there was a fundamental disconnect between representatives in the room saying with the recession they are hurting now, in trouble now, and anything that threatens them further is dangerous to their livelihoods and the future of the city, and MCC and TfGM saying these changes will help people access their businesses and make the city centre a better experience - in time. 

"We're not anti-car," said Cllr Murphy on several occasions.

"We just don't want cars in the city centre that don't belong there," said Cllr Fender referring to the narrowing of Deansgate and restrictions on roads designed to push drivers onto the inner relief road. 

"We're not anti-public transport, of course we want public transport to improve," said almost every speaker in the audience.

Nor did the audience fail to appreciate the strides Manchester city centre has taken in the last decade to improve its attractiveness and amenity to visitors and residents alike and to become a major European centre for events and concerts. The success of the East Didsbury Metrolink line was complimented and the need for a second city crossing understood.

But most in the audience felt that rather than reinforcing these positives, MCC and TfGM were embarking on a journey that was untested, risky and full of pitfalls, based on studies and computer models rather than the actuality of Manchester. In otherwords MCC and TfGM are jeopardising all the good work and not listening to the warnings from people on the ground.

Bonnie Yeung from Yang Sing articulated a major area of concern: "What happens in the gap between aspiration and reality? What happens between this utopia of public transport and city roads being narrowed and private vehicles being excluded? Until the gap is closed won't this mean fewer people want to come into Manchester in a private vehicle, fewer people who might spend? Our businesses, across all the sectors represented here, are, we feel, suffering because of your changes, and we are what makes the city tick. What fills that gap?"

Cllr Fender replied: "This isn’t a gap, it’s a continuum, a process of continuous improvement, with bus operators, Metrolink and others. What we are trying to do is expand the city centre and improve it to deal with increased visitors and for future development. Of course there have been job reductions recently but we are still looking at a Manchester which is doing relatively well in the longest and deepest recession for many years. We want these changes to enable all of us to come out of this sooner and better than other places."

"We are listening that is why we are having these consultations, and we do take into consideration what you say."

"And we are listening," said Cllr Murphy, "that is why we are having these consultations, and we do take into consideration what you say. I feel your passion, but I also feel the passion of the environmental lobby and the people in Hulme who want to get in here without driving and don’t have cars - 45% of people in the City of Manchester don't own a car."

At the end of the debate people in the audience were asked whether their minds had been put at rest over the future of transport into Manchester from anything said by Cllrs Murphy and Fender.

It was 99% negative response.

The disconnect between people running businesses and living in Manchester city centre and those making the biggest decisions over transport policy for two generations - and infrastructure is the lifeblood of any city - was not bridged. 

Still, that promise of a fully detailed plan of how the city centre infrastructure will look by 2020 is welcome. We might at last know clearly where all this is heading.

For some in the audience that was at least a start. 

The paragraphs above sum up the results (or lack of) from the debate. The sections below look at several areas of discussion in more detail. Apologies for the previous delays in the write-up of the meeting.

Part Two

1) On-street parking 

Concerning the extension of on-street parking charges into the early evening, Saturday afternoons and Sundays, David Fox of Tampopo restaurants was clear. "The on-street parking restrictions discourage the 'grey' market and the family market. It is affecting my trade and that of other people in the room. We surely do not want the city to be the preserve of 18-35 yr olds. The city can offer so much more with diversity of visitors, and these changes don't help that. Restaurants can't survive on weekend trade alone."

"We’re not going to go back," Cllr Murphy said, "although we can never say never. But we don't plan to suspend the extensions. Not everybody disagrees with them."

Fox then produced figures which showed how in places such as central London on-street parking charges finish at 6.30pm and do not apply on Sunday. See this article On-Street Parking Compared

The Chinatown businesses reiterated the threat from increased parking charges in price and duration. They painted a picture of Chinatown as the focus for the larger northern English Chinese community who come into central Manchester to pick up goods from the shops and then dine out and meet friends and family. As people are coming from several different locations and taking home heavy articles public transport was simply impractical. Anything that discouraged such trips directly hits the viability of Chinatown.

Cllr Murphy said that there were only just over 2,000 on-street car parking spaces and he didn't believe an extra couple of pounds up to around a fiver on parking charges detered people using the city for restaurant, shopping or other visits. He produced prices and figures from multi-storey car parks close to Chinatown to underline the alternatives.

He said that measures were on-going to make more strategic use of on-street parking with revised charges which in some cases would lower prices but "prices do go up as they do in your businesses".

He was asked whether observing the near-universal dislike of the extension of on-street car parking charges within the room and throughout the city he would consider suspending the extension for six months to see if businesses noticed a difference and then taking a decision on whether to re-instate them. 

"We’re not going to go back," he said, "although we can never say never. But we don't plan to suspend the extensions. Not everybody disagrees with them. And you can't say that the city centre is suffering everywhere. Peel Group wanted to invest in Manchester Arndale because it has a footfall of 41m last year."

What has become clear is that lowering the number of on-street parking bays by double-yellowing the roads and then extending the hours of charging into the evening and across the weekend for the remaining bays, was the first clear move, two years ago, of reconfiguring the city centre infrastructure away from private vehicles.

For smaller businesses and independents across the city centre the Arndale argument didn't wash because they have a different demographic.

2) On the buses and mistimed trams

THE prioritisation of bus routes into the city centre was a hot topic along with the present failings of public transport. 

As one of the Chinatown restaurant owners pointed out: "It would be fine if everybody, customers and staff, arrived by public transport as they do in Hong Kong but bus transport in Hong Kong is excellent while it is not here.

"For instance when our restaurants close at night there is never any buses to take them home. So you are making big changes but there are no solutions in public transport. Will the buses be running late enough to take people home? Will they be running frequently enough?"

"Will they also be of good enough standard," said Bonnie Yeung from the Yang Sing joining in. "We all have experience of terrible buses, but also the drivers don't receive adequate customer service training and are rude. For customers going home at night they are simply not a good enough solution."

The failings of public transport were underlined graphically by Jessica Spencer of StreetCars.

StreetCars had run a pick-up point from the Etihad Stadium during Robbie Williams. At one point security had informed concert-goers waiting at the rank that the queues had died down at the nearby Metrolink station and they could now catch trams.

People trooped off in their droves only to return angry a short time later. Security staff hadn't investigated why there were no queues for trams. The reason was the trams had finished for the evening. And so had the buses. Manchester suddenly had a lot of annoyed people who had been hoping for a lovely night out in the city simply because the transport infrastructure had failed them.

Bus Congestion


Empty bus congestion on Oxford Road


Cllr Fender said that contracts with operators such as Metrolink and the bus providers were complex and that re-negotiation would have to happen before issues such as later running units and customer service were ironed out.

"We have to deal with individual situations as they arise," he said.

But you're not dealing with them came the collective reply, in an explosion of frustration across the floor.

"People could always check the internet for tram times and bus availability," said Cllr Fender.

There was another collective snort of derision. 

"But people don't behave like that," said Jessica Spencer. "Sometimes they do but often they don't, you must be aware of that. Meanwhile for big events such as these Robbie Williams concerts surely concert goers might have thought public transport would respond and provide a service? The truth is that even if people do check the internet they would learn that to use public transport for many events is impractical as they would have had to to leave those events early, events with expensive tickets."

Again the comments of Cllr Fender appeared evidence to the audience of how MCC and TfGM aspirations for public transport have yet to respond to the reality in Manchester in 2013. Given all those contractural negotiations with operators it may be some time before they do.

3) Private cabs 

TOM Rook from Salford Private Hire Association wondered why there was "so little mention of the role of private hire and hackney cabs in the various reports produced by MCC and TfGM."

Along with several of the private hire companies he underlined the way people use taxis to travel long and short distances from all parts of the conurbation and to access areas of the city for social reasons or to make essential visits.

He wondered how public transport might appeal to people dressed up for a big night out don't want to travel on two or three different types of public transport before arriving at their destination and then having to repeat the process going home. 

"We need to look at sorting out some of the anomalies with bus routes and private hire cabs."

He also highlighted the example of Eccles were Salford City Council have reversed a decision to only allow hackney cabs and buses into the town centre as this effectively, contra to legislation, discriminated against the disabled, infirm and the elderly who need door to door services.

Rook pointed out that with the bus priority lanes excluding private hire vehicles in the recent proposals for Princess and Portland Streets and Oxford Road, Manchester would also have to address this issue.

Manchester City Centre ward councillor Joan Davies has a knee complaint that requires her to use private cabs and she stated how private cabs have helped her get around the city. 

Manchester Cars appealed for MCC and TfGM to allow private hire vehicles to use bus lanes - just as more than sixty councils across the UK do. 

Cllr Fender worried that having to change signage on bus lanes across all the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester might be costly. 

Cllr Murphy had a different emphasis: "We need to look at sorting out some of the anomalies with bus routes and private hire cabs. But we are not anti-car or private vehicle, we just want to make sure that we have the right combination of methods for accessing the city centre, a balance. We want to give people more choice."

4) Positive for the changes 

OF course there were people in the room who were supportive of the changes being instigated in city centre infrastructure.

Steve Connor from Creative Concern, the Northern Quarter ethical communications agency, referred to the conjectural increase in jobs that is part of the motivation behind the changes. The figure is 50,000 new jobs for the city centre within the next decade and according to MCC and TfGM the best way to cater for the increased traffic was to push additional numbers into public transport and on to bikes. 

"If people want to know how what these 50,000 new jobs will look like. They'll probably look like the ones in my company. We’re the type of company that will grow I hope and only one of employees from more than twenty drives in. We’re massively reliant on public transport.

"The future is clear. It is about more people walking, cycling and coming into cities on public transport. That is what is happening across Europe. If we want to grow, if we want to be a more cosmopolitan future facing city we need these transport changes. This is a long term thing, it’s a generational thing."  

Jonathan Fingland, a cycling activist, agreed. 

"The Northern Quarter feels more vibrant that Chinatown because it doesn’t have an A-Road running through it. It is busier and feels more exciting. I think this must be because it's more people friendly. That's the Northern Quarter's advantage. If the transport strategy plans produce a more balanced city centre for cycling and walking then I support them."

He did have one caveat though.

"However while I agree with most of the plans put forward by MCC and TfGM, they must talk to people better. Changes seem to happen, road plans shift quickly and people don't feel they've been consulted properly or know where it's heading. Can't a map be produced for how the city centre will look for transport when all the changes have happened?"

Thus we arrived at the concession higlighted in Part One of this article, with Cllr Nigel Murphy agreeing that an overall map showing how the city centre will look after the infrastructure ideas have been realised was a good idea.  

5) Big spenders and fat wallets

 A OFT-repeated point from Cllr Murphy about why the major city centre transport changes were needed was because 45% of the residents of the City of Manchester don't own cars.

The City of Manchester population (503k) comprises less than a fifth of the Greater Manchester population of 2.6m. It contains the regional capital with the city centre but is unrepresentative in terms of the region's geography, a mere twelve by four miles at its maximum.

It's also unrepresentative in terms of wealth. Because of the way the boundaries fall the City of Manchester demographic is relatively poor. On the other hand Manchester city centre is overwhelmingly the engine room of the economy.

The more people accessing this engine room the better - surely? 

Mark Garner of Manchester Confidential said: "We want people spending money. We all want people spending money in the city centre and we don't care where they come from and how they get here as long as they spend money. People in cars travelling in from the suburbs and across the North West spend more than people coming in on buses. It's a simple truth.

"I want public transport to improve, of course I do. I live in the city centre and the busier it is the better I like it. I don't own a car for that matter. But the transport changes are all one way at present and hitting people in private vehicles, putting them off coming in, putting them into the Trafford Centre.

"Walk around large parts of the city centre on Saturday and Sunday and parking bays are empty. People have been put-off coming in by car and we're missing out on their fat wallets. We need as many of those fat wallets as possible in the city centre. We have to stop the council and their hatred of the car because we are on a downward spiral."

Mark Garner referred to the projected 50,000 new jobs and listed some of the restaurants and businesses that have closed down. "What 50,000 jobs are you talking about!" he said with force.

"We want to make sure that cars can use the city centre efficiently," said Cllr Fender. "But we have to make sure the place is safe for pedestrians and cyclists too."

Cllr Murphy said: "Places have closed but a great many have opened. Of course we want the high spenders, but areas such as Spinningfields are doing well (a statement that surprised some people as the retail in Spinningfields is doing very poorly) and then there's Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Of course we have to diversify the offer on King Street but all this takes planning and we have to make hard decisions. Nobody likes change."

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

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

Poster BoyJune 27th 2013.

The 99% are going to get nowhere against two committee men councillors, with little or no expertise, on the defensive who would rather be somewhere, anywhere else. If the 99% are serious, then it is time to get serious and properly challenge the experimental wide-eyed idealistic and dangerous assumptions of the City and TfGM. There should enough transportation and planning consultants and urban planners in this city (yes, you) who care enough (to give their time and knowledge), and what of the silent voices of CityCo, Marketing Manchester, the Chamber of Commerce, PRO Manchester et al who are all supposed to support the growth of city-based businesses and who should all be concerned enough to offer support. Are they on board? With respect to David Fox, a sheet containing details of London's parking regime, whilst providing context proves nothing. Get serious, get organised, step up. A new McEnroe Group is required.

Poster BoyJune 27th 2013.

...for example; The Transport Strategy for Manchester City Centre 2010 states there is potential (NB; 'potential') for the city centre to grow by 50,000 jobs (NB; '50,000 is a mid point forecast from 2008 before the advent of the financial crash/recession), resulting in 30% more inbound trips (NB; 'trips' ie. all forms of transport, not just roads) The Strategy also, does not imply that "we are never going to go back" regarding on-street car parking. It states that "we will review the provision of on-street parking to minimise unnecessary restrictions at evenings and weekends so as to support, in particular, the leisure economy" Well, surprise surprise. So; if there is going to be a debate, let's start with having the facts right, instead of councillors spouting mistruths, half truths and basic untruths...

DrakeJune 27th 2013.

There is a real problem here, that no-one (and this obviously is mostly aimed at ManCon as it's been running such a long-term campaign) has spent the necessary time and resource on objectively investigating the impact of the changes to on-street parking. What we therefore end up with is anecdotal evidence, which starts to become influenced by the ferocity of the campaign. It all becomes circular-lots of hot air about the impact of parking charges, so falls in business or sales 'must' be due to that, even if the evidence is slight or non-existent. As all of us statisticians like to say 'correlation is not causation'. But, in this case, you haven't even proved correlation. Gordo's rants about restaurants closing is obvious nonsense given the number constantly opening and the huge number of people out and about on Friday and Saturday evenings. So, why not do some research; actual, objective research. Talk to whoever has the footfall numbers. Talk to whoever has the parking figures (on-street and off); are fewer cars coming into the city? What we seem to have had, at the meeting, from the reported comments, is a huge selection of complaints about transport. Transport is nver going to be perfect in a city this size, but pointing to lots of fairly minor issues ('buses are currently rubbish, so we don't want more buses' seems to be the Chinatown line), and then shouting at the council and TfGM is just bizarre, it's not engaging in a debate about strategy at all. (Apologies if this multi-posts, the site's crashed twice while trying)

1 Response: Reply To This...
DrakeJune 27th 2013.

And, originally, that was written with paragraphs and everything...

AnonymousJune 27th 2013.

ManCon doesn't do paragraphs of course. But maybe if you do this it helps or even this

AnonymousJune 27th 2013.

As I said when the debate was announced, it will be all Yah Yah Boo Boo. Down with Mike Karney!!!! stuff

hazelmurphyJuly 1st 2013.

Come into the City by bus at night? - Of course not! I doubt that any of the councillors have ever tried it from the North of the City which is poorly served by public transport.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 1st 2013.

I have, on a daily basis. Many routes are every 10 min throughout the evening...

AnonymousJuly 1st 2013.

Which bit of the 'north of the city' is badly served by public transport? 2 Metro lines to the NW and NE, and a number of bus services down the main arterial routes.

TomJuly 1st 2013.

Be more precise please what times do you travel? Take away taxis and PHVs late at night and see how public transport and police tackle thousands of revellers getting home? Then consider how they got into the city centre in the first place? A good number of revellers come from outside Manchester, with places like Salford not having a city centre, town is Manchester , let's start looking at the bigger picture rather than looking within?

Stephanie FethneyJuly 1st 2013.

Sorry to say, but anything that the "geniune people" say where ever Paul Murphy is around will not be listerned too. I know from meetings that he attended both in the proximity of so called Councillor at Residents meetings, Police meetings (As he part of the police group) - he is likened to a bully. He has only one view HIS OWN!!! oh and who ever backs him..:( By the way he goes everywhere by CAR!!!! He would not know how to use a bus..Over pompous that is what he is

AnonymousJuly 1st 2013.

Something the council really need to look at, is the silly way that the Lights on Shudehill work, stopping buses from actually getting down the road. They won't though because despite what people on here, and elsewhere say they are scared of car users.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 1st 2013.

Could it be because Manchester council forgot to build a drop off and pick up point at Shudehill bus station, near to the lights on Thomas Street?making this bus station the worst integrated bus station in Manchester, perhaps in Greater Manchester! Dispute TfGM knowing that they seem to have done nothing to correct it.

AnonymousJuly 1st 2013.

The picture of traffic on the day of the meeting and Robbie Williams concert, did anyone watch the Transport for London programme on TV the previous night.? It shown how they coped with traffic congestion including a helicopter crash which damaged a crane in the city. They have a hub which deals with traffic flow, so when an idea flux of traffic is expected they deal with an influx before it arrives and they manage to get traffic moving even when everything looks grid locked. Its time to do the same in Greater Manchester, manage traffic situations before and when they happen, example change traffic lights to meet expectations, to get rid of traffic. . So let's look at the problem of traffic when concerts are on in the city, first of all look at the planning of such places like the MEN arena, was this the best place to build such a venue? Remember the sheer volume of traffic which is created before and after such an event. One only has to look at the motorway after such an event to see where these people come from to consider this view how would these drivers and there passengers travel if the driver were to drive in alcohol? And how would,do these people home?

S JoyceJuly 1st 2013.

I've lived in the city centre and now live in Bolton. The extended hours on parking bays in the evening and at weekend just deter people coming into the city, especially on a Sunday where people may choose the Trafford Centre as an alternative!! As for getting into Town from the north, many more would visit manchester if there were better options to get home by train, basically if your not on your way home by 10.3 (you'll not fit on the train at 11ish) your faced with a £30-£50 taxi. It seems like Manchester Council don't want visitors from North Manchester!

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 1st 2013.

Bolton is North Manchester? No it's not.

JimJuly 1st 2013.

I live in Bolton and the trains are fine. Last trains to Bolton are 11pm, 11:23pm and 12:15am. If you want to stay later on a weekend there's the night bus to 4am. As for taxi costs most Bolton cab companies will come and get you for £20-25.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2013.

It's no use phoning a PHV because they are being restricted from places where shoppers and revellers go in Manchester. Who's next to restrict PHVs Bolton council? Let's face it, they ran a referendum on transport and it didn't go there way, people rejected there transport views and now it seems the referendum was a waste of money and now now they are doing what they want.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2013.

It's no use phoning a PHV because they are being restricted from places where shoppers and revellers go in Manchester. Who's next to restrict PHVs Bolton council? Let's face it, they ran a referendum on transport and it didn't go there way, people rejected there transport views and now it seems the referendum was a waste of money and now now they are doing what they want.

AnonymousJuly 2nd 2013.

Her is a residents representation we cooked up over the weekend. sites.google.com/…/… We will be chasing it up. Feel free to pinch bits of it

AnonymousJuly 4th 2013.

Don't forget to give input to this un thought out policy

AnonymousSeptember 13th 2013.

So what have these two councillors done in bringing in private hire vehicles to this plan? or the city now?

AnonymousApril 11th 2014.

Nearly one year on and nothing has changed

AnonymousApril 30th 2014.

April 30 2014 Quote "We are listening that is why we are having these consultations, and we do take into consideration what you say." "We need to look at sorting out some of the anomalies with bus routes and private hire cabs." what's happened since April 2013? It looks like nowt! The TfGM pack states TfGM will consult transport issues with all GM private hire operators, but so far how many operators outside Manchester have been contacted by TfGM I expect none. Why would TfGM discuss this with operators? iits the thousands of self employed drivers that witness the old ladies and disabled passengers having trouble setting down. As a private hire driver I get jobs dispatched direct to me, pick up a disabled elderly gent at the old Piccadilly Hotel lay bye, when I eventually get there there are four taxis using the lay bye as an unofficial taxi rank, restricted use of bus lane next to the lay bye means I cant set down safely or legally. From no 1 Portland Street to the Britannia hotel its bus lanes and taxi ranks How do TfGM expect people from outside Manchester to set down in Manchester using transport of there own choice, especially at night? It seems TfGM and AGMA have the power to continue ignoring millions of satisfied private hire door to door passengers and despite numerous requests to have a debate on private hire transport they refuse ! what do they actually know about the private hire trade or how many passengers they carry or the reasons why so many people use private hire over all other forms of transport. They know very little, they promote taxis and buses but ignore the needs of the old and the disabled in placing restrictions on where private hire vehicles can go, they are content in thinking taxis are 100% disable friendly. The Parliamentary Transport Select Committee Paper on types of disabled vehicles needed stated a mixture of taxis and saloon type vehicles, unfortunately it didn't go further by stating the percentage of taxis compared to private hire vehicles needed. Lets look at one fact the number of wheel chair users compared to the number of older people who have bad knees or bad hips or look at the number of people who have walking aids i.e sticks, Zimmer frame and fold down wheel chairs etc as one Salford council door to door evaluation shown disabled and the elderly prefer to use private hire vehicles over taxis. Further more taxis are no longer Public Service vehicles so why are AGMA and TfGM still planning transport without understanding the DDA Equality Act? You cant treat passenger "A" any differently to passenger "B" So far I would state they are promoting bus and taxi passengers and ignoring private hire passengers. The referendum result on congestion charging in Manchester was NO part of a yes vote stated more money would be available for Public Transport, but the majority of residents stated NO.

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