Greater Manchester active travel set for £14m boost

Local leaders set to approve £14m to improve Greater Manchester’s bus, cycling and walking routes.

Plans to improve Greater Manchester’s bus, cycling and walking routes could move a step closer with leaders set to approve almost £14m in funding to develop and deliver schemes across the region.

Building new infrastructure is key to supporting the Bee Network, Greater Manchester’s vision for an integrated ‘London-style’ transport system joining together buses, trams, rail, cycling and walking.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will meet on Friday January 27 to consider backing a range of proposals which will be delivered using local and national funding.

They include schemes being funded, either in whole or in part, from Greater Manchester’s £1.07bn share of the government’s £5.7bn City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS).

Supported by £170m in local contributions, the CRSTS represents major investment in local roads, bus, train and tram services over the next four years.

New quality bus corridors, cycling and walking routes are proposed, alongside improved transport infrastructure and connectivity for towns and high streets.

Within this latest set of schemes to be brought forward is the Bus Pinch Points and Maintenance (BPPM) programme, one of several CRSTS-funded schemes due for approval by the GMCA.

The BPPM programme aims to enhance passenger journey times, journey time reliability and accessibility through a mixture of delivering low-cost interventions and providing existing maintenance, including:

  • Targeting pinch points on strategic bus routes experiencing delays or poor reliability through minor improvements to the highway and bus network
  • Providing improved passenger waiting facilities and raised kerbs for level boarding and alighting at bus stops, including improved access to and from the stop
  • Improving access to real-time information at key points on the network
  • Ensuring lines and signage on the network are well-maintained
  • Enhancing intelligent traffic solutions to provide optimised signals, monitoring and improved information for bus and wider public transport customers.

A report to the GMCA recommends the drawdown of £5.1m from CRSTS funding to develop and deliver the first tranche of BPPM schemes until 31 March 2024.

The report also asks leaders to release £4.5m in CRSTS funding to progress plans to refurbish the Manchester Street Viaduct in Oldham.

Oldham Council will oversee the project which will minimise ongoing maintenance requirements to allow the public to continue using it for the next 25 to 30 years.

The report seeks a further £300,000 to develop plans for a junction improvement scheme at Topp Way and Higher Bridge Street in Bolton, which will improve pedestrian and cycle access to Bolton town centre by reallocating road space.

Plans to build a new railway station at Golborne could also move a step closer with just over £340,000 requested to further develop proposals for the scheme.

Vernon Everitt, transport commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “Momentum continues to build behind delivery of the Bee Network - the integrated, affordable and accessible public transport and active travel network for our city-region.

“These schemes will provide much-needed improvements such as dealing with pinch points on main bus routes experiencing delays or poor journey time reliability, improved passenger waiting facilities, raised kerbs for better access at bus stops and better real-time customer information. This investment will also ensure signage is well-maintained and provide the latest road signalling technology to tackle delays.

“The projects that we will deliver through our City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement with government are crucial in the delivery of the Bee Network, with 2023 set to be an exciting year with the launch of the first franchised bus services in Bolton and Wigan in September.”

Leaders will also be asked to release funding from the Mayor’s Challenge Fund (MCF) to progress active travel schemes in Oldham and Wigan.

The MCF is being used to deliver the first phase of the walking, cycling and wheeling element of the Bee Network which, once complete, will cover around 1,800 miles and will be the longest, integrated, planned network in the country connecting every community in Greater Manchester.

The latest schemes requiring approval of funding include a new active travel scheme in Oldham town centre, which will require £2.15m from the MCF.

It will provide new and improved walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure between the town’s West Street and Cheapside bus stations, and the leisure and education facilities on Rochdale Road and King Street.

In Wigan, there are plans to develop a new walking and cycling network between the town and neighbouring Standish by utilising £1.3m from the MCF. The first phase will see the Beech Hill area connected to Wigan town centre and Wigan & Leigh College via Mesnes Park.

Roads minister Richard Holden said: “Everyone in the UK deserves a reliable, affordable and clean public transport network. That’s why we’re providing Greater Manchester with over £1bn to level up transport to help drive the local economy.

“It’s fantastic to see the Bee Network and the BBPM programme take shape, and I look forward to continuing working with local MPs, councils, the mayor and TfGM to build a public transport network everyone in Greater Manchester benefits from.”

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