A fare freeze on Metrolink in place for three years will end in January with a 6% price rise as transport bosses look to reclaim “revenue foregone” since January 2014.
The cost to passengers of using the tram network was frozen to reflect disruption caused by the engineering and construction works in the £1.5bn expansion of the network, especially the second city crossing through central Manchester, which opened in February 2017.
Transport for Greater Manchester estimated the cost of lost ticket sales due to the fare freeze at £61m. The price rise will see an average 5.93% added to the cost of a ticket from January. The rise is calculated as 4%, spread over three years to 2020, above RPI inflation+1% annually. This equates to 1.33% plus 3.6% plus 1% at July 2017 RPI. The increases in January 2019 and January 2020 will be based on RPI in July 2018 and 2019. The new fares are then rounded up to the nearest 20p. Special event quick issue premium fares for football matches will rise from £3 to £4 for adults with a child’s special event fare of £2 being considered.
Mayor Andy Burnham’s pledge of half-price public transport for 16 to 18-year-olds will be reflected in new child fares for off-peak midweek, travelling after 9.30am, and all-day weekend travelcards extended to 16-18s with a personalised Get Me There smartcard, costing £10. A similar scheme has already been introduced on Greater Manchester buses.
Prior to the start of the expansion work in 2010 the network had 37 stops and covered 24 miles, operating the Bury to Altrincham line and extension to Eccles. The network now stretches 58 miles to 93 stops on seven lines.
The business case for the publicly funded expansion set a target of 22.10 million trips annually on the four new lines in the expansion phase. According to last year’s evaluation report by Transport for Greater Manchester for the Department for Transport, there were 10.58 million trips made in 2014/15.
The comparatively high cost of Metrolink compared to local bus services was among the factors found to be dampening demand, although transport bosses expected tram use to rise as new lines emerged from their “build-up period” and developments along tram routes completed.
Burnham said: “I committed to putting young people at the heart of my manifesto and a key part of that was to open up opportunities for 16 to 18-year-olds in Greater Manchester. There is still a way to go but half-price travel on our Metrolink, together with half-price bus travel, are steps in the right direction.
“I remain absolutely committed to the introduction of free travel for all 16-18 year olds and will continue working towards that ultimate goal – ensuring young people can more easily access jobs, training, education and all the other opportunities that Greater Manchester offers.”
Greater Manchester Combined Authority is expected to approve the fare increases when it meets on Friday.