Councillors have warned of a disparity in the quality of transport links throughout Manchester.
Transport poverty is something that affects all Mancunians, it was claimed in a motion at a recent Manchester Town Hall meeting. However, it is those in the north of the city who are left the most worst off.
At the meeting, Councillor John Farrell told of how lack of decent public transport has forced him to walk three miles from his Crumpsall home to Manchester Piccadilly in order to get transport to Manchester Airport for his night shifts.
Farrell presented this personal experience of transport poverty to support his motion that calls on the council to consider how all Manchester residents can more easily access job opportunities, particularly those living in North Manchester.
The motion also specified that the focus of transport provision should not be on those areas that are already well-served, referencing suburbs in the south of the city such as Didsbury and Chorlton-cum-Hardy.
It is considered that transport links from South Manchester into the city centre are already sufficient, with bus services along the so-called ‘Wilmslow Road-Oxford Road corridor’ journeying all night. Such services are a major method of commuting to and from Oxford Road’s universities for the large student population of Fallowfield and Withington.
Farrell said lack of transport links is “an obstacle many people in North Manchester face when they try to access the job opportunities that are there.”
Along with the lack of physical access to transport in North Manchester, the motion spoke on public transport’s financial inaccessibility: “There’s [sic] many, many people stuck at home because they just can’t afford to use public transport, even when they are there,” Farrell continued.
Councillor Nasrin Ali, who tabled the motion with Farrell, said: “Transport is becoming a barrier to employment for residents on low income.
“We have had effectively a six percent rise in cost of tram and bus fares. Train fares keep going up but it’s hard to spot any improvement in the service provided.”
The motion, which was passed with the support of six councillors, urged Transport for Greater Manchester to consider measures that will reduce transport poverty in the city. Suggested methods included subsidised fares for those returning to employment and for those travelling to job interviews.
Transport for Greater Manchester announced last month that Manchester residents aged between 16 and 18 would be eligible for a free ‘Opportunity Pass’ from September, allowing them unlimited bus travel in the region.
Then ‘Opportunity Pass’ will join the recently introduced zoned-ticket system of Metrolink tram travel, wherein fares will no longer be calculated on a stop-by-stop basis. Passengers will now pay a flat rate depending on which of the four zones they are travelling within, which is said to save some people money on their daily commutes.
The recent revamps to public transport services in Manchester come after the Transport Secretary voicing his commitment to giving more local control to the city.