Greater Manchester’s mayor can rethink city transport

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The forthcoming election of Greater Manchester’s new mayor presents a unique opportunity to rethink the city’s transport infrastructure, just as mayors in London have pushed through ambitious policies in recent years.

That was one of the key messages at the launch of a major Alliance MBS study into how planning and transport connections across the city could now evolve as part of the devolution drive.

The debate heard that the proposed new Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) could in particular help reshape the city’s transport network. Pam Stapleton, Professor of Accounting at Alliance MBS, who has been researching the performance of bus and tram companies in the city, said: “With devolution Manchester will have increased powers around transport. The question is, how can we make devolution work to get people moving around Manchester better? This is a unique opportunity.”

Dominance of car

Mike Hodson, Senior Research Fellow at the Sustainable Consumption Institute, said the car completely dominated travel journeys in the city with poor use of public transport. “Some 90% of all car journeys are under 10km, while almost half of all trips are 2km or shorter.”

But he said the mechanisms for tackling the dominance of the car were not clear due to complications of governance and fragmented funding models.

He added: “Big questions remain. To what extent can Manchester’s transport network become integrated? What about the changing nature of work? And how can transport enthuse a wider sense of sociability?”

Important moment

Julie Froud, Professor of Financial Innovation at Alliance MBS, said the GMSF was the first chance the city had had for a long time to think about how it was developed, and that included its wider approach to transport.

“This is an important moment for Manchester. Will development be driven by developers or citizens? What should be built where over the next two decades?”

She said there had already been huge interest in the draft framework which had received 25,000 responses. “The last 20 years has effectively seen the development of a new town in central Manchester with a huge increase in the number of flats. But the overall level of building has been much lower in other Manchester boroughs. Job creation has also been very mixed across Manchester with most places outside the city centre seeing very little new job creation.”

Greater Manchester’s mayoral election is being held on May 4. As well as having responsibility for housing, planning and public transport, the new mayor will also be in charge of Greater Manchester Police and Fire service.

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