Just 2.2% of the 1.17m people employed in the city region use the Metrolink for their journeys to work, compared to 60% of those still driving, according to a travel diary survey conducted by Transport for Greater Manchester.
The findings of the travel diary survey, known as TRADS, were published ahead of a Greater Manchester Combined Authority meeting this Friday 27 October.
The document analysed Greater Manchester TRADS from 2014-2016. TRADS is a rolling programme of household interviews that gathers data and travel information from 2,000 households. This amounts to around 4,600 people and more than 10,000 trips each year. From these interviews, TRADS releases travel estimates.
More than 1.17m people work in Greater Manchester, but the Metrolink is used by just 2.2%. This amounts to 25,830 people. According to a TfGM spokesman, the 2.2% is significantly up on the 2011 census result of 1.3%. In absolute terms this equates to at least 10,000 additional commuters every working day using the Metrolink.
Cars or vans are still the most popular mode of transport, with more than 704,500 people driving to work each day. Around 11% of people walk to work, and 10% catch the bus.
In 2016, TfGM revealed that less than half the forecast number of passengers were using new Metrolink lines opened in recent years to Oldham, Ashton, East Didsbury and Manchester Airport. TfGM used data from 2014-2015 journeys. The target was 22.1m passengers on these lines but only 10.58m people were recorded using the Metrolink. This statistic incorporates all Metrolink travel purposes, including commuting.
The TRADS numbers do not reflect changes in passenger use that may have occurred since the second city crossing opened in February this year.
A proposal due to be submitted by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to the Government puts forward the Western Loop Metrolink extension, which will link the planned HS2 station at Manchester Airport to Wythenshawe Hospital and the surrounding area. This may make the Metrolink more accessible to commuters.
The Metrolink is the UK’s largest light rail network, and it recently reported a record 40m passenger journeys made by tram each year.
Danny Vaughan, head of Metrolink, said: “In terms of the figures contained in the travel diary survey, it’s important to note that car and bus journeys are higher than that of Metrolink for very obvious reasons. While Metrolink spans seven lines across a 60 mile network it does not operate in nearly as many areas as bus services currently do. Similarly, a large number of motorists travel to work from outside of Greater Manchester and an even larger number from areas within it that do not have direct access to the tram network.”