The latest proposed Metrolink fares have been revealed, with the majority of tram passengers able to access cheaper-than-forecast journeys across the city-region.
All single journey fares will be frozen at 2019 prices, in a move aimed at helping more people switch to trams, reducing congestion, and improving air quality in Great Manchester.
The changes, if approved by Greater Manchester leaders later this month, would represent a price freeze on 45% of tickets sold across the network, with 50% increasing by 4% or less. The remaining tickets would see a price rise of 10p - the minimum increase that can be applied.
This will mean that, on average, fares will rise by a below-inflation rate of 2.2%, with previously planned above-inflation fare rises put on hold.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Metrolink is a world-class system entirely owned, managed and run at a local level, and that is why we are able to be responsive to the needs of the travelling public in Greater Manchester.
“We recognise that the cost of travelling is a concern for many people, and that we need to deliver a transport system that is both affordable and fit for purpose.
“This is a broad package of changes that will mean frozen fares and below-inflation caps on price rises for the majority of tickets sold, as well as a small increase to some fares. They’re a reflection of the principles that underpin Our Network – specifically, they ensure we are being accountable, that we can continue to invest in Metrolink, and that our public transport remains affordable, accessible and convenient.”
The move is in recognition of peak-time capacity issues on Metrolink, the manufacturing issue affecting the delivery of new trams in 2020 – and against a backdrop of highways improvements set to get underway in the New Year.
Metrolink is the UK’s largest tram network and does not receive a public subsidy – unlike other transport systems, such as the London Underground – with money from fares used to run it and repay the borrowing used to fund its expansion.
New travel products providing early risers and part-time workers with better value journeys have also been unveiled, ahead of November’s Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) meeting.
The proposals would see the permanent introduction of a new ‘early bird’ offer for those paying for their travel using contactless. An ‘early bird’ product was successfully trialled last year and proved to encourage people to leave their cars at home and travel earlier*, helping to spread demand during Metrolink’s busiest period, reduce congestion, and improve air quality.
Alongside this, based on feedback from the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, we will be trialling a carnet-style ticket, offering less frequent travellers cheaper and more flexible travel choices.
The measures mirror the principles by which Metrolink is run and that underpin Our Network: The Mayor’s vision for an integrated, London-style transport system, which is affordable, convenient, accessible, accountable and sustainable.
Chief Executive of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Clive Memmott, said: “Getting our public transport right remains a critical issue and flexible ticketing and payment is pivotal to this. The easier it is to use public transport the more it encourages us all to change our habits.
“The proposed new pricing is an important step in the right direction that acknowledges the specific requirements of flexible and part-time workers and incentivises them to use Metrolink.
“The new carnet-style ticket is a welcome innovation and shows that new patterns and ways of work are recognised in the way we price public transport and encourage people to use it.”
The new early bird offer will utilise Metrolink’s new contactless payment system, which has been used to make more than 1 million journeys following its introduction on 15 July.
With more than 25% of Greater Manchester’s workers in part-time employment, the flexible carnet-style ticket will offer them better value compared to products currently available. It will initially be available on the get me there smart card and enable customers to buy a ‘pack’ of 10 one-day travelcards at a discounted rate.
A decision on the proposals is set to be taken by GMCA on Friday 29 November, with the new products and price changes to Metrolink tickets introduced in early 2020.
* A survey from last year’s Early Bird pilot showed 53% of customers who had used an early bird ticket had shifted either their journey time (28%), their mode (9%) or both. 48% of customers who changed mode shifted from car and 24% from bus – based on 650 responders.