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Corporate Offer - Cycle Hub

First cycle scheme as part of Greater Manchester Mayor’s Bee Network project complete along the Bridgewater Canal

Lee Howarth

Wigan Muddy Mile L-R, Louise Morrissey, Chris Boardman, Andy Burnham, David Molyneux.jpg

The first scheme of Greater Manchester's Bee Network has opened along the Bridgewater Canal in Wigan

The first scheme of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network, a proposal for the largest joined up cycling and walking network in the UK, covering 1,800 miles has opened in Wigan.

Formerly known as the Muddy Mile, the scheme has consisted of improvements to the Bridgewater Canal Towpath in Astley and was opened by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham and Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman.

The towpath itself has been completely resurfaced, better signage has been installed and access points have been improved. The route now becomes part of the Bridgewater Way which encourages people to walk and cycle on the canal and tow path from Wigan Pier through Leigh and across the Salford boundary to Worsley, Monton and Patricroft.

The project was funded jointly by Wigan Council, the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund and the Bridgewater Canal Company.

Speaking about the work, Andy Burnham said: “Cycling and walking is part of Greater Manchester’s wider transport strategy, Our Network, my 10 year plan for an integrated, modern and accessible public transport system.  

“Excellent cycling and walking links across our local neighbourhoods are vital to this vision, allowing people to walk and cycle easily and safely for shorter journeys. To see this first piece of the Bee Network in place and ready for many journeys is heartening.” 

The opening event was celebrated at The Old Boathouse with afternoon tea and complemented by two guided rides and a walk led by the council’s sister organisation, Inspiring healthy lifestyles, which both used the new route.

Leader of the council, Councillor David Molyneux said: “It’s fantastic news that the first Bee Network scheme in Greater Manchester is complete in our borough. This is another example of how we’re leading the way and working effectively with organisations to deliver ambitious plans that will revolutionise travel.”

 “We have had a lot of very positive and welcoming feedback from residents and commuters alike who are already benefitting from this scheme, demonstrating the demand for such facilities. We’re working with TfGM to urge people of all abilities to walk more and get out on their bikes. Not only will this support health and wellbeing but improves air quality and will also reduce congestion.”

Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman commented: “It’s very exciting to see the first official Bee Network scheme up and running, ready for residents to use.

“The Bee Network is all about making it easier for people to get about on foot or by bike and we’re very proud to have helped deliver a route that we know will be well used by thousands of people every year.”

So far, the Bee Network consists of 57 schemes, details of which can be found here.

New unit to help keep travelling public safe

Lee Howarth

TravelSafe 5.jpg

More than 60 police officers will make up a new and dedicated transport unit to help keep the travelling public safe.

More than 60 police officers will make up a new and dedicated transport unit to help keep the travelling public safe.

The team will replace 50 PCSOs as part of a new Transport Unit. Expected to launch in the winter, it will replace the current TravelSafe Unit. 

The team will provide a proactive policing presence across the region’s transport network and work as part of the broader TravelSafe Partnership (TSP) – which includes Transport for Greater Manchester and operators – to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour (ASB) and improve public confidence and road safety.

For the first time the unit will provide a response function to deal with ongoing crimes and incidents affecting public transport.

The changes are being partly-funded through an increase in local council tax, responding to residents’ calls for tougher policing on the transport network.

Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, Bev Hughes, said: “When members of the public use the transport system they have an absolute right to expect that they will be safe. And people will not use public transport unless they feel safe and know they’ll be safe. That’s why we have taken action to strengthen even further the security of the system.

“This investment in the TravelSafe Unit will enable tougher enforcement across the transport network, stopping offenders in their tracks and keeping the public safe.

“Significantly, for the first-time the unit will have the capability to respond to crimes in action and help restore the transport network following disruption.

“I hope this new unit will reassure all those who use our roads and public transport systems that their safety and wellbeing is my absolute priority.

“I also want to thank the PCSOs who have done great work over the last two years. Now they can bring their skills and experience to the wider community, as we bolster neighbourhood policing across Greater Manchester.”

The TSP takes an intelligence-lead, problem-solving approach to tackling crime and ASB, including proactive operations and ‘target hardening’ measures.

The partnership also benefits from TfGM and Metrolink’s control rooms, which have an extensive range of CCTV cameras that are monitored 24/7.

CASE STUDY: Operation Infinity  

The TravelSafe-led ‘Operation Infinity’ ran between 13 and 26 August 2018 in response to ongoing complaints of criminal and antisocial behaviour on the Oldham and Rochdale Metrolink line.

Joint intelligence was used to deploy officers and staff across the line at specific times to deter and disrupt criminality. Officers were supported by partner resources, including GMP’s Mounted Unit and Oldham Council’s Youth Engagement Officers. It resulted in 13 arrests, 105 intelligence submissions and 153 young people being spoken to. Metrolink staff also issued over 2,600 revenue enforcement tickets.

The long-term impact of the operation has seen crime and antisocial behaviour on the line fall significantly. The four months prior to the operation (May - August) saw 170 recorded incidents, compared to just 97 incidents during the four months after the operation (September - December). This has continued into 2019, with 136 incidents recorded from January to April compared to 176 in the same period in 2018, a 23% drop.

Metrolink customers take to contactless as trips top 170k

Lee Howarth

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More than 170k journeys were made using Metrolink’s new contactless payment system in the four weeks since it launched (Monday 15 July – Sunday 11 August).

The new and easy-to-use payment system is proving particularly popular on event days, with 9,931 journeys made using contactless on 9 August – when Lancashire’s 20/20 cricket match with Yorkshire was unfortunately rained off – while a further 8,009 journeys were made on 11 August when Manchester United played their opening Premier League fixture at home to Chelsea.

Contactless cuts out the need to buy a paper ticket or download the app, with passengers simply required to use their contactless enabled devices, such as bank cards, phones and watches, to ‘touch-in’ and ‘touch-out’ at tram stops at the start and end of their journey, with the system working out their fare, up to a daily cap.

Despite the relative ease of use, some customers are not ‘touching-out’, resulting in them being charged an incomplete journey fare of £4.60 – the maximum for a single journey. This charge is not included as a part of the maximum capped daily price of £7.

Information reminding people to ‘touch-out’ has been put on all trams, including on the back of seats and tram doors and at tram stops. Staff continue to be on hand to talk to people about the new system and messages reminding customers to ‘touch-out’ are also being made on Metrolink’s PA system, by drivers and on the digital information displays, as well as on social media.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is working with those customers who have not ‘touched-out’ and is providing refunds where appropriate.

TfGM’s Customer Director, Stephen Rhodes, said: “Contactless is a really simple and convenient way for people to pay for journeys on Metrolink and it’s great to see so many people have already taken to it. 

“We recognise this is a different way of paying for travel and it will take some people a little while to adapt, which is why our customer information has an emphasis on the need to ‘touch-in’ and ‘touch-out’.

“As people get used to it, we hope it will become second nature, but anyone who is really concerned about forgetting is still able to use all the other options that were previously available to pay for their travel.” 

Metrolink improvement work to impact stops

Lee Howarth

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Work to improve Metrolink passenger facilities will result in some minor disruption to two stops this summer.

The works will see new lighting, CCTV and equipment upgrades at both Cornbrook and Shudehill stops, along with new shelters and crossing point at Shudehill and an improved stair/entrance area, canopy extension and platform weather protection at Cornbrook.

To allow upgrade work to take place, the Shudehill stop will close from 1am on Thursday 29 August until 4am on Saturday 14 September.

The Cornbrook stop will close twice, from 1am on Saturday 21 September to 5am on Monday 23 September and from 1am on Saturday 28 September to 5am on Monday 30 September. The closures mean that trams will not call at the stops.

The Eccles line will close from 1am on Sunday 22 September to 5am on Monday 23 September, during which there will be a full bus replacement service.

The lift at Cornbrook will be unavailable from Monday 19 August to the end of October, with passengers requiring lift access being advised to use Deansgate-Castlefield or Trafford Bar stops.

Customers can visit the Cornbrook Shudehill pages on our website for more information

Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said: “This work will provide a number of vital improvements that will not only make the stops much more pleasant to use but also improve their safety, security and accessibility.

“Unfortunately, it will result in some disruption for passengers for some short periods of time – but we have done a lot of planning to keep customers informed and ensure that they plan their journeys in advance and allow extra time to travel.

“Our customers have high levels of customer satisfaction – 89 per cent satisfaction in our most recent survey – but we’re always looking to improve their overall experience and encourage more people to use the network.”

Work will be undertaken overnight to minimise impact on businesses and passengers.
On-stop posters, leaflets and social media are being used to inform customers in advance while TfGM has also met with local businesses to help mitigate any impact.

Park and Ride set for huge boost across Greater Manchester

Lee Howarth

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Following the launch of Our Network – the Mayor’s ambitious 10-year vision for an integrated-transport system in Greater Manchester – TfGM has confirmed 1,000 new park and ride spaces are on their way.

Last week Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, pledged to boost park and ride (P&R) provision across the region by the end of 2020 to help deliver a modern, integrated and accessible public transport system.

Work is now being carried out to assess potential P&R expansions, as well as the development of completely new sites, with locations in Radcliffe, Whitefield, Withington on existing Metrolink lines and adjacent to the new Trafford Park Line, currently under review.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Many people have to use their cars for part of their journey before they switch to public transport and park and ride sites are critical in helping people switch to trams, trains and buses.

“I’m regularly asked about whether or not new park and ride sites are on the way and I’m pleased to say that there are a number of locations that are currently being developed to provide park and ride facilities. Work is ongoing but we are looking at 1,000 extra spaces being delivered to ensure people can access public transport as easily as possible.

“Alongside the introduction of contactless payment on Metrolink, Our Pass, new cycling and walking measures and work that is under way to improve the way our bus network operates, we are taking steps towards an integrated transport system for Greater Manchester.

“But to ensure we unlock our potential and make journeys easier Greater Manchester needs more investment into its transport networks and the powers to manage it effectively and I will continue to press government until it becomes a reality.”

Work to deliver on the Mayor’s 10-year vision for our public transport network is already seeing major strides made:

• the launch of a Contactless payment system on Metrolink is due imminently
• the new Our Pass scheme will see 16-18 year olds receive free travel and a wealth of other benefits
• a new bike hire scheme that includes electric bikes is set to launch in 2020
• confirmation that an assessment into the future of the city-region’s bus market has now been completed and has recommended franchising as its preferred option.

Expanding Greater Manchester’s P&R offering is central to the region’s growing public transport network as they make access to trams, trains and buses easier and more accessible, which in turn, helps to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Work to assess the sites in more detail, including the number of spaces at each location, is taking place now alongside local councils and more details will be released later this year.

New traffic tech could see the back of late running buses

Lee Howarth

A recent trial carried out by Transport for Greater Manchester could see improved bus punctuality on some of the region’s busiest routes.

The four-week long pilot used the latest traffic signalling technology to help late running buses make-up time on one of Greater Manchester’s busiest bus corridors, the A6 Stockport Road. The scheme monitored both benefits to buses and general traffic, as well as the impact on pedestrian wait times.

SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique), technology was used, which analyses real-time traffic data to optimise and co-ordinate traffic signal timings. The system was used to prioritise the journeys of Greater Manchester’s busiest bus service, the 192, at 14 sets of traffic lights along the busy route between Stockport and Manchester, by the ‘lateness’ of each given bus.

By using transmitters found on most modern buses, the SCOOT system would quickly identify the vehicle to extend the green time as it approached lights – effectively enabling late running services to pass through the junction without the need to stop and wait.

Results showed that of all messages received by the signals throughout the week, 11.8% resulted in priority being granted to buses running behind schedule, providing an average saving of 31 seconds per junction. Across an average commuter’s journey, these savings could add up to a considerable reduction in journey time.

Across weekday morning and evening peaks, respectively, 8.2% and 12.9% of messages resulted in priority being granted, with 11.5% over the weekend.

Punctuality and reliability are always cited by current or potential bus passengers as a key consideration when they are deciding whether to travel by bus or not. Delays to services are often caused by congestion across the region’s road network.

It’s estimated that congestion costs Greater Manchester’s economy around £1.3 billion each year in lost time and productivity, not to mention the health and wellbeing impacts it has on the region’s 2.8 million residents.

Alison Chew, Head of Bus Services at TfGM, said: “The A6 bus priority trial was extremely positive and could see us permanently extend the use of this technology across more of the region’s busiest routes.

“Tackling congestion and improving air quality are two priorities for us at the minute and clearly measures that improve the reliability of public transport is one way of encouraging more people to leave the car at home.

“Buses carry around 200 million passengers per year, representing 75% of all public transport trips in Greater Manchester. When you also consider that around three quarters of all journeys made by cars and vans in the morning peak only carry one person, and that a bus can carry in excess of 70 passengers, it’s clear that buses represent a more efficient use of road space.

“While it’s early days, the results that we’ve seen from this initial pilot suggest that if bus priority schemes were increased, services would be more punctual, encouraging more users to use buses and helping to contribute to reduced congestion across the region. Therefore benefitting not only bus users but other road users and pedestrians as well.”