Greater Manchester aims to be first to deliver carbon neutral transport network

The city-region hopes to become carbon neutral by encouraging people on to its electrified tram network, new electric buses, or to cycle or walk where possible.

Greater Manchester is hoping to become the first city-region to deliver a carbon neutral transport network in an effort to help stem climate change.

Plans from Mayor Andy Burnham, and Transport Commissioner Chris Boardman include electrification of all buses, and building the UK’s largest cycling and walking network.

Metrolink, the tram network, already runs on 100% renewable energy.

Greater Manchester is also set to launch the largest Clean Air Zone outside of London in May 2022.

Andy Burnham and Chris Boardman have set out plans for Greater Manchester to deliver a carbon neutral transport network. Credit: PA Images

Under the plans, buses operating in the city region will be 50% electric by 2027, with hopes to make them 100% electric within a decade.

It is a move, the combined authority claims, would reduce carbon emissions by 1.1 million tonnes.

The Greater Manchester Ring and Ride fleet will also move to zero emission technology by 2027, while funding has been secured to expand the tram network.

The authority says it also has 'strong evidence' for the use of more zebra crossings on side roads which will increase safety and the number of people walking to school, work and the shops.

Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is already leading the way in transport decarbonisation through our light rail network, the largest in the country, that runs on 100% renewable energy.

"We’ve already started building the UK’s largest cycling and walking network, with £70 million worth of active travel schemes either completed or now under construction.

"This investment has helped enable thousands of people to change their daily lives; residents who’d previously not have considered walking or riding can now travel without cars for everyday trips in safety."

In October Greater Manchester received £1 billion to fund transport initiatives in Rishi Sunak's 'Levelling up budget'.

It will be used on:

  • Upgraded high-quality bus routes between Wigan and Bolton, Bury and Oldham, Oldham and Ashton, Salford and MediaCityUK

  • Developing the next stage of plans for new Metrolink connections between Oldham, Rochdale, Heywood and Bury, Manchester and Stockport, including through the investigation of tram-train technology, and kickstarting the delivery of the Metrolink extension to Manchester Airport Terminal 2

  • A new Bury Interchange as part of a major investment in the town centre

  • A new rail station and park and ride at Golborne

  • A new travel hub and park and ride at Tyldesley, building on the success of the Leigh to Ellenbrook Guided Busway

  • Public realm, cycling and walking improvements to high streets and town centres including Oldham, Stockport, Radcliffe, Middleton, Farnworth, Bolton, Bury, Ramsbottom, Heywood, Littleborough, Salford

  • Developing priority rail station accessibility improvements at Swinton, Reddish North, Hindley, Flowery Fields, Bryn, Newton for Hyde, Levenshulme

  • Improvements to 2,000 bus stops across Greater Manchester

  • Completing the delivery of up to 130km of cycling and walking routes

The city-region is also introducing the UK’s largest Clean Air Zone outside of London - covering almost 1,300km squared - from May 2022.

Transport Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: “Full electrication of our buses, continued delivery of the UK’s largest active travel network and the introduction of the largest clean air zone outside London will be a massive boost to Greater Manchester’s green credentials.

"I’m absolutely delighted that our world class active travel network is now taking shape.

The latest project to be introduced in Greater Manchester will be the Bee Network Cycle Hire Scheme - one of the largest hire schemes outside London.

Transport Commissioner, Chris Boardman, added: “This is a scheme designed for and with the communities of Greater Manchester.

“The new hire cycles will play a key role in the integrated transport network we are establishing in Greater Manchester and will not only help to tackle carbon emissions, they will also help to reduce congestion.

“We’ve taken the time to look at exactly how the scheme should work and have invested in ensuring the bikes and infrastructure are high quality and there are the resources available to manage it effectively on a day-to-day basis, delivering a great level of customer service.”

The public trial of the bike scheme begins on 18 November, when people will be able to access bikes along Oxford Road in Manchester city centre, at the University of Salford and at MediaCityUK.

The trial and use of the bikes will be closely monitored and fed into the approach for the full scheme when it launches in June 2022.