Transport for Greater Manchester’s zonal fares structure for the Metrolink, which will see the network adopt a London-style zonal system, will be rolled out in early 2019 after findings of a public consultation were presented last week.
The plans were first mooted in May, and following a public consultation, have now been endorsed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Around 5,000 people responded to the consultation, with 73% of people saying they found the zonal system “easy to understand”, while 57% said it would be more convenient.
The zonal plan is based on concentric rings around the city centre, with zone one starting around the centre, moving out from zone two to four, covering different areas of Greater Manchester.
Terminus points Manchester Airport, Altrincham, Rochdale, and Bury, are all proposed to be in zone four, while East Didsbury and Ashton-under-Lyne are both in zone three, alongside the proposed termination point of the new Trafford Park line at the Trafford Centre.
Eccles and stops within Salford Quays are all within zone two.
As a result of the consultation, one change has been made to the proposed zone, with Whitefield now a “zone 3-4” stop, rather than Besses o’ th’ Barn as originally proposed.
The new system will offer zone-to-zone travel rather than point-to-point tickets, and will reduce the number of fares available from 8,556 – the number of point-to-point combinations – to 10.
Fares will be calculated based on the number of zones a trip passes through, with each zone counted once – for example, a trip from Manchester Airport to Bury would count as a four-zone fare.
While TfGM admitted the move will increase fares for one-stop journeys within the City Zone, this would help to “support the policy goal to promote active travel for short journeys, with the associated benefits for health and wellbeing”.
Around 42% of respondents said the zonal system would provide better value for money. A pre-planned fare increase will also take place in early 2019 at a similar time to the new zonal system being adopted.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “A zonal system on Metrolink is the springboard to a better integrated, simpler and easier to use transport network.
“Simplifying the fares and ticketing system in Greater Manchester will ultimately make travelling by public transport a more attractive option, which is absolutely vital if we are to tackle congestion and improve air quality – two of the most challenging issues facing us today.”