A radical change to Metrolink fares and ticketing could see a simple, flexible four zone system introduced – delivering easy to understand and better value fares for millions of passengers across the network.
The change, which is set to be considered by council bosses at a meeting of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) this week, would see the introduction of a completely new approach to fares and ticketing and would sweep away the existing system – replacing it with an easy to understand four zone system similar to London’s travel network.
If approved by GMCA, the change, which would take place early next year (2019), would cut the current 8,500 stop-to-stop fare combinations to just 10 zone-based fares.
Customers will be able to enjoy flexible travel across the city-region, providing unlimited travel within their chosen zones, instead of one-off journeys between specific stops.
It would also help to pave the way for a fully-integrated ticketing system for Greater Manchester.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “The fares and ticketing system in Greater Manchester is too complex, too disjointed and in need of an overhaul.
“I speak to a lot of people who ask me: 'Why can’t we have a system like London?' – and it’s a fair question, as anyone who’s travelled there knows just how ahead they are when it comes to fares and ticketing.
“But, devolution gives us the opportunity to put this right and develop a system that is simple, convenient and offers better value for money.
“We’re already seeing signs of this; we’ve introduced combined bus and tram tickets to our smart cards and will see contactless payment introduced on Metrolink later in the year.
“But zonal is the real building block that will set the foundations for a system that is integrated, that allows people to swap seamlessly between modes, offers the freedom to enjoy more journeys for the same price and represents a fair fare for all.”
Ahead of any potential change, customers will be able to enjoy easier journeys by using contactless payments to quickly tap on and off trams.
Under current proposals the majority of zonal fares would be set to the lowest current prices, meaning most customers will not pay more than the pre-planned increases for 2019, with their tickets instead providing better value for money.
A zonal system would also remove pricing differences within the current fare structure, making it fairer for all, and bring Metrolink in line with many other European tram networks that have similar structures.
Customers would be able to use all existing and future ticketing and payment channels to travel, including: contactless payment, paper tickets or the get me there app or smart card.
A map of the proposed zones has been produced.
A public listening exercise is set to run ahead of any final decision being made about the proposed change. This will include an online questionnaire to gather feedback.