Burnham announces major 2018 GMCA transport overhaul

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has announced a major overhaul of the region’s transport network.

Burnham said problems with transport in the north could “no longer be ignored” as he announced the creation of a Strategic Transport Board, which will monitor projects and ensure decisions are made in line with joined-up services.

Addressing members of the Urban Transport Group at a meeting in Leeds, the mayor said the new board would be chaired by himself and Richard Leese the leader of Manchester City Council.

He also said that Greater Manchester would be the first city region to use new powers to improve bus services and that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) would work to ensure train operators do more in future to compensate commuters for poor services.

He described Greater Manchester’s train services as “packed-out and clapped-out” and said the north had been treated as “second-class over many years” in terms of transport investment.

“Our road, rail and bus services are not only poor individually, they can’t be properly integrated due to an inconsistent national policy framework in which they operate,” Burnham stated.

“We cannot have a transport system where different modes of transport operate completely independently from each other or, worse, actively competing and undermining each other as we have seen with bus operators and Metrolink.

“It lacks coherence, it’s confusing for passengers, and it doesn’t deliver for a growing 21st century city-region. It is time to bring some order to this chaos.”

The speech is the result of Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) six-week ‘Congestion Conversation’ which looked to understand how congested transport links in the region affected residents.

The regional transport body will also be asked to prepare an assessment for a potential bus franchising scheme on behalf of the GMCA.

In addition to other new developments, the combined authority will look to introduce contactless bank card payments across Metrolink services late next year.

Burnham said passenger satisfaction in Greater Manchester was below the national average and singled out the use of pacers on the rail network, which he said were intended to run for 20 years but are still operating nearly 40 years later.

TfGM has begun talks with passenger watchdog Transport Focus to discuss compensation for season ticket holders on the Bolton to Manchester line, which has suffered from particularly poor performance.

The announcement comes as West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) mayor Andy Street attended the launch of the landmark West Midlands Trains deal, which sees local authorities take a management role in the local rail franchise.

Top image: Kirsty O'Connor - PA Wire - PA Images 

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Susan Mottram   18/12/2017 at 22:55

I agree with Andy Burnham that the Greater Manchester Region deserves a better deal in relation to bus services. It would be a great improvement if the buses were running under a single franchise as this would surely result in b improved services with bus timetables integrating so much better and making cross region journeys easier. Rail users are long overdue to be rewarded by the provision of more comfortable carriages ensuring that all passengers can be seated for the whole of their journeys. I am certain that more people would travel by rail if the stations were made more easily accessible; too many stations are too difficult for mothers pushing buggies and wheelchair users to reach the platforms and therefore the provision of ramps/lifts is as essential as that of more comfortable carriages.

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