£1bn fund for transport in Greater Manchester will help extend Metrolink tram network and lower bus fares

Three separate pots of funding which will benefit the city-region have been confirmed by the government as part of a £7bn package to ‘level up’ transport.
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Greater Manchester has been awarded more than £1bn to boost its bus, trams and wider transport network, the government has announced today (4 April) .

Three separate pots of funding which will benefit the city-region have been confirmed by the government as part of a £7bn package to ‘level up’ transport.

It comes after Labour mayor Andy Burnham launched his ‘Bee Network’ bid, lobbying government outside the Conservative Party Conference last October.

The full proposal included £1.50 ‘hopper fares’, 70 new 10-minute-service routes, more evening and Sunday services and rebuilt transport interchanges.

In March, a judge ruled in favour of Mr Burnham bringing buses back under public control after a legal challenge by two bus firms – but one has appealed again.

The mayor has since announced that bus fares would be capped at £2 for adults and £1 for children under the new system to be rolled out from 2023.

Buses in Manchester Buses in Manchester
Buses in Manchester

What will the cash be spent on?

The £1.07bn City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement for Greater Manchester, first announced in the Autumn budget, has now been confirmed – but a detailed breakdown of how the money will be spent is yet to be released.

Greater Manchester has also been allocated £94.8m from the government for its Bus Service Improvement Plan as part of the Bus Back Better strategy.

The government has also confirmed that Metrolink will receive £20.5m to keep trams running with lower passenger numbers following the pandemic.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Buses are the most popular way of getting around in this country – but for too long people outside of London have had a raw deal.

“The investment we’re making today to ramp up the bus revolution will drive down fares at a time when people’s finances are tight and help connect communities across England.”

Grant Shapps Credit: gov.ukGrant Shapps Credit: gov.uk
Grant Shapps Credit: gov.uk

What’s been said previously?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced indicative funding in his budget last year.

After the assessment of the business cases put forward by mayoral combined authorities, the government has now confirmed the final settlements for all.

According to the Department for Transport, the £1.07bn will fund new vehicles to extend the Metrolink network and the creation of walking and cycling corridors across the city-region as part of the Streets for All programme.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands some of this funding will be spent on highways maintenance, electric buses and cheaper bus fares too.

The funding could also contribute to a new transport interchange in Bury.

The government will continue to work with combined authorities over the coming weeks to agree delivery plans and how performance will be monitored.