New zonal fares set to be introduced on Metrolink?

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) are currently considering what are being described as “radical changes” to fares and ticketing on Manchester Metrolink which would see a new simpler, flexible four zone system introduced across the network. This is said to be a way to deliver easy to understand and better value fares for millions of passengers in a similar way to the zonal system in London.

The new system would see four zones introduced:

Zone 1 – City zone encompassing Cornbrook, Deansgate-Castlefield, St Peter’s Square, Piccadilly Gardens, Market Street, Shudehill, Victoria, Exchange Square, Piccadilly and New Islington

Zone 2 – The complete Eccles/MediaCityUK lines, as far as St Werburgh’s Road on the East Didsbury/Manchester Airport lines, to Stretford on the Altrincham line, Bowker Vale on the Bury line, Newton Heath and Moston on the Oldham/Rochdale line, Edge Lane on the Ashton-under-Lyne line (Parkway on the Trafford Park line would also be included once contructed)

Zone 3 – To Brooklands on the Altrincham line, the remainder of the East Didsbury line, to Roundthorn on the Airport line, the rest of the Ashton-under-Lyne, Derker on the Oldham/Rochdale line and Besses o’ th’ Barn on the Bury line (the rest of the Trafford Park line will also be included)

Zone 4 – The remainder of the lines to the Airport, Altrincham, Bury and Rochdale Town Centre

If the plan is approved by the GMCA it would be introduced at the start of 2019 and would mean the majority of zonal fares would be set at the lowest current prices, meaning most customers will not pay more than the pre-planned increases in 2019. The zonal system is said to remove pricing differences within the current fare structure making it fairer to all and bringing Metrolink into line with many other European tram networks which have similar structures.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, 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.”

Before the final decision is made a public “listening” exercise (what’s wrong with calling this a consultation is unclear!) will take place including an online questionnaire.

* A map of the proposed fare zones (which is a lot clearer than any description we give above can hope to be!) can be found on the Transport for Greater Manchester website.


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