It has been revealed that passenger numbers on Manchester Metrolink have now reached 50% of pre-Covid levels during the week while weekends are seeing between 60% and 70%. This confirms the trend seen on public transport elsewhere in the UK where leisure travel is now more popular than travel for work.
Passenger numbers on Metrolink have been fluctuating ever since March 2020, reaching a low in April 2020. With lockdowns and restrictions in place for many of the months since passenger numbers have got nowhere near the pre-pandemic level but for the week of 23rd August it reached the highest level since of almost 470,000. The reduced timetable introduced at the end of July, coupled with engineering works, had seen a slight fall in that period but things are now on the up once more. It is also expected that September will see further increases now the schools are back.
The well-publicised staff shortages during the summer as a result of self-isolating after being pinged by the NHS Covid app also had an impact on reliability of the service. Reliability performance had been holding fairly steady at around 97% up until then but in period 4 (27th June to 24th July 2021) it fell drastically to 92.7% leading to the 12 month rolling average declining to 96.5%.
Tram availability has also seen a fall in recent months with the latest two periods (3 – 30th May to 26th June – and 4 – 27th June to 24th July) seeing just 84.3% and 83.4% respectively available. Criminal damage was the main cause of this with smashed saloon windows, damaged seats and interior graffiti all requiring vehicles to be removed from service. This was a big problem during the Euro 2020 screenings at Event City where a total of 19 trams were damaged resulting in the need to introduce operational mitigations to protect the vehicles and infrastructure.
The latest Metrolink report also confirms that compliance of the wearing of face coverings on board the trams has seen a fall with only around 50% of passengers wearing. Although no longer law it remains part of the conditions of carriage on Metrolink.