Local Transport Minister Norman Baker has confirmed funding towards a series of measures aimed at improving bus services in and around Manchester.
The announcement adds detail to the provisional adoption of the Cross City Bus Package in the government's autumn statement in 2011. The package is worth £43m and is proposed to improve the speed and reliability of existing bus services from Middleton in the north, Parrs Wood in the south, Salford and Worsley in the west, as well as supporting creation of new services along each of the corridors through the city centre.
Baker said the scheme will increase accessibility from areas along the A580 and A664 corridors to the city centre and the Oxford Road employment area, and minimise the carbon impact of transport into the city centre.
Works will include provision of bus priority measures along the three proposed corridors, a new bus terminus at the Central Manchester Hospitals site, and a section of Oxford Road being reserved for buses, taxis and cycles only, with general traffic moved to alternative routes some of which will also benefit from complementary traffic management measures.
Norman Baker said: "These improved bus corridors are important to drive growth in both Greater Manchester and the wider North West region. This scheme addresses in particular the problems of the Oxford Road Corridor, which has the highest demand for bus travel in the conurbation and yet is one of the lowest performing in terms of reliability and punctuality.
The package will improve the attractiveness and accessibility of public transport, greatly improving people's ability to access existing and new employment opportunities within the corridors from the north and west of the city."
Cllr Andrew Fender, chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: "The Cross City Bus package will significantly improve bus travel on key routes, which will make the bus a much more reliable and attractive option for thousands of people.
"Today's announcement means we can now press ahead with much needed improvements to the quality and level of bus infrastructure and bus priority measures in the city centre and on key routes in to the city, which will help services to run reliably and punctually.
"In turn, it will introduce a much higher level of quality to our bus network and will improve access for hundreds of thousands of people to key employment, education, health and leisure destinations in Greater Manchester."
Work can now start on the first phase, with the full scheme due to be completed by 2015.
Existing bus services will be able to make use of the improvements as they come on stream, with the new cross city services being introduced once the improvements are completed.
The Department for Transport will provide £32.49m towards the full scheme cost of £43.2m, with TfGM funding the remainder through the Greater Manchester Transport Fund.