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 2. Greater Manchester in 2040


Transport ​does not exist in isolation: a number of other factors influence the demand for travel and the success of our strategy. Over the period to 2040, there will be significant and complex changes in Greater Manchester and the wider world that will have a huge impact on travel demand and infrastructure requirements.

Demand for travel diagram

Economy and E​​mployment

Greater Manchester at the heart of a globalised Northern Powerhouse economy, with an increasingly skilled workforce.

Over the past 30 years, our economy has become increasingly globalised, and this trend is set to continue over the period to 2040, supported by digital communication systems, and faster and more fuel- efficient international transport. In this context, Greater Manchester will continue to capitalise on its strengths as the main international gateway to the North.​

Spinningfields in ManchesterIt is expected that Eur​opean city regions, such as Greater Manchester, will grow as centres of skills, service delivery and advanced manufacturing. Our economy will therefore need increased access to a highly skilled workforce to support growth of our existing knowledge- intensive employment sectors, such as financial and professional services, creative and technology industries, and academic research; and to secure our position as a world leader in scientific innovation. In particular, our strengths in advanced materials research and development puts us in a strong position to increase our manufacturing base and our export potential.

Major city regions will continue to act as key drivers of the national and global economy, acting as critical centres of knowledge exchange and commerce. Greater Manchester’s position at the heart of a Northern Powerhouse economy is critical to its future success. Improved city-to-city connectivity will support business-to-business markets and access to wider and deeper labour markets. Better connectivity within the city region will enable fast and affordable access to employment opportunities for our residents. As workers become more mobile and the trend continues towards more varied types of employment and working arrangements, transport options will need to be increasingly flexible and adaptable to changing mobility requirements, for example the need for services outside the traditional “peak” times.

Despite the growth of the regional centre, the geographical spread of economic activity in Greater Manchester creates complex commuting patterns and tends to lead to high levels of car reliance for many journeys to work.

Around 44% of our 150,000 knowledge-intensive jobs are located within the regional centre and we expect this proportion to grow over the period to 2040.​​

Tackling congestion on our transport networks and making sure we have capacity for growth will continue to be a key priority; on our major roads, on our railways and in local towns and communities. Given that there is little scope within our urban areas to build new roads or widen existing ones, our strategy must focus on making our existing transport networks more efficient through advances in technology, providing better travel alternatives to the private car and enabling more efficient servicing and deliveries. This needs to be combined with targeted capacity improvements on our road and rail network to provide the transport infrastructure we need to support our growing economy. Our focus will also be on delivering a more consistent, resilient, better integrated public transport system, resulting in more seamless journeys across all forms of transport, and measures to enable and encourage the most sustainable travel choices.​

Society and Community

A larger, more economically active population with diverse transport needs.

The conurbation experienced a significant population increase of 6.6% from 2001 to 2011, growing to 2.7 million people, with the City of Manchester increasing by 19% – the fastest growing of England’s major cities. Projections suggest that our population will exceed 3 million by 2040 and that at least one in four people will be over the age of 60.

We are, in parallel, seeing continued growth in the numbers of young people, as Greater Manchester’s birth rate continues to rise and our student population grows. We expect Greater Manchester and the North of England to become more attractive to migrants as the economy and reputation of the North grows over the period to 2040.

Tackling Inequality

Inequality and deprivation currently hold back our economy and prevent people from realising their full potential. To become more financially self-sustaining we need to get more people working and into better jobs. This is the focus of Greater Manchester’s wider public service reform programmes.

Greater Manchester’s 2014 Growth and Reform Plan set out an ambitious package of measures to eliminate the £4.7 billion annual gap between public spending and taxes generated in Greater Manchester by 2020. Transport reforms and investment play a key role in delivering that plan.

Whilst cars will still be a crucial part of our future economy, for many Greater Manchester residents travel by car is still not an option. We will need high quality, affordable and seamless transport connections from the most deprived areas to key employment and training locations, particularly for the 31% of households with no access to a car. We will also need better links to important day-to-day facilities such as GP surgeries, schools and shops; everyday journeys that are critical to our quality of life.

In interviews with Greater Manchester jobseekers 38% of respondents cited transport as being amongst the top three barriers to attending an interview or getting a job.

Attitudes to travel

Ongoing social change will lead to shifting attitudes to travel and travel behaviour over the period to 2040. Increased use of social media will enable new forms of communication to flourish, while there is also a growing trend towards community-focused activities and services, particularly in response to local public sector funding cuts.

Younger people’s travel aspirations are likely to be very different to previous generations, with less emphasis on private car ownership and use. They are more likely to communicate using social networking, rather than relying on face-to-face meetings. When they do travel, they are more likely to consider a range of possible options ‘on the go’, with the support of mobile and wearable devices.

People will be working for longer and older people will be more likely to want access to a range of work and leisure opportunities. At the same time, access to healthcare and services for elderly people will become even more critical and such services must be accessible by non-car modes, or delivered directly to those unable to travel.


Safety and personal security

Safety and security is fundamental to any transport network. We have been successful in significantly reducing casualties and crime over the last 15 years, but we must do more as traffic accidents across the UK remain the biggest single threat to young lives. We will work towards eradicating road deaths in Greater Manchester over the period to 2040, focusing on the most vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and young drivers. We will also focus on improving people’s perceptions of safety and personal security, particularly when walking, cycling or using public transport.

More active travel

The health of our population will become an even higher priority over the coming decades, as our population ages and as we develop a more joined-up approach to public service delivery, with more shared local health and transport priorities and budgets.

Greater Manchester currently has some of the highest levels of physical inactivity in England, with 80% of residents not taking the recommended level of exercise and 30% of school pupils classed as obese.

We must invest in a transport system that supports improved health, by enabling people to build more walking and cycling activity into their daily lives. This will reduce the burden on the NHS and cut the number of working days lost to illness.

Urban Development

Economic growth and unprecedented demand for housing across Greater Manchester will require more compact urban development patterns.

Development patterns have a significant influence on travel behaviour and transport infrastructure requirements. The economic growth anticipated in Greater Manchester to 2040, accompanied by unprecedented demand for new housing, means that we will need the right housing in the right locations, and must enable our expanding workforce to take advantage of new employment opportunities across Greater Manchester and beyond. High quality housing in attractive locations, will help to attract businesses to the area and encourage more of our workforce to live locally.

Greater Manchester will need at least 200,000 new homes by 2040 to support anticipated economic and population growth.

Significant economic growth is also proposed in neighbouring authorities, leading to more cross- boundary travel in and out of Greater Manchester. This could have a major impact on the movement of passengers and goods on our road and rail networks. We will need to work closely with our neighbours to plan for increased travel demand.

A new long-term Spatial Framework for Greater Manchester is being developed to identify the scale and likely spatial distribution of housing and empoyment growth across the conurbation. The spatial plan will support delivery of the Greater Manchester Strategy, to enable sustainable economic growth and a more inclusive society.

A more accessible and efficient transport system requires compact and mixed-use urban development, focused in and around existing town centres and the regional centre, where possible, to support regeneration. Such land use patterns also support low-carbon lifestyles by locating development in areas that are easier to serve by public transport and with key local facilities within walking and cycling distance of where people live. Where needs cannot be met in these areas, new development sites need to maximise the use of existing public transport or ensure that new services can be provided.

Transport is only part of the solution, but developing urban centres and residential areas with attractive streets and public spaces, that are easy to walk and cycle around, and that are served by modern and affordable transport systems will help to make Greater Manchester a more attractive place to live and work.

Our 2040 transport strategy will prioritise the infrastructure investment that will support sustainable economic growth and attract inward investment in regeneration areas. We will work with planners and developers to ensure that new developments are designed in a way that supports sustainable travel behaviour.​


Environment and Resources

A sustainable, low-emission city region that is more resilient to the effects of climate change.

One of the most significant challenges Greater Manchester faces over the period to 2040 is climate change. Climate change is already happening, with the average UK temperature now 1˚C higher than it was 100 years ago and 0.5˚C higher than it was in the 1970s. In Greater Manchester, climate change is likely to involve more severe flooding during winter months and an increase in droughts during the summer. This will potentially affect the resilience of transport infrastructure and increase maintenance requirements.​

Greater Manchester is committed to a 48% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 (from 1990). Transport currently accounts for 30% of these emissions and, of these, 95% are from road vehicles. ​​

Road transport is having a seriously detrimental impact on air quality in the conurbation. This is a significant cause of poor health, with emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (small particles) the main problem. Like other major UK cities, we need to cut NO2 emissions in Greater Manchester to meet EU limits.

Cities are inherently more sustainable in terms of energy and resource use than less urbanised areas and, therefore, Greater Manchester is well placed to reduce its environmental footprint. But we must do more to reduce emissions from our transport system and to encourage more sustainable travel behaviour. We must also adapt to climate change and become more resilient through careful planning and targeted infrastructure investment over the coming years.

By 2040, we will deliver a low-emission transport system to enable us to meet our ambitious carbon reduction targets and to eradicate poor air quality caused by transport in Greater Manchester. Failure to tackle these issues will act as a brake on economic growth.

Air pollution from particulate emissions is estimated to cause at least 1,000 deaths each year in Greater Manchester.

Taking a proactive approach to this agenda, and establishing Greater Manchester as a world leader in new low-emission technologies and techniques, is a major opportunity for our economy, building on the advanced research and manufacturing expertise already within the city region.

Innovation and Technology

Greater Manchester has the potential to become a world leader in transport innovation, by collectively harnessing our wealth of talent in transport services, advanced manufacturing, and digital and creative industries.

Global developments in technology will transform the way that people live and work in Greater Manchester, with new ways of communicating, travelling and connecting with people and places. Digital systems and devices have already become embedded in our everyday lives, enabling almost limitless access to information and networks and the creation of new “virtual” communities.

We can expect to see further developments that will completely change the way we travel or access services. Advances in material science and energy storage over recent years are already having a significant impact on the viability of electric cars and bicycles. Innovative apps are enabling direct feedback from customers to service providers, allowing them to become more responsive. We will embrace the use of innovation and technology to improve the way that customers can access transport services and information.

Using technology to improve our transport system

Greater Manchester Smart Mobility diagram


Through the exploitation of further advances in science and technology there are substantial opportunities to improve the capacity, efficiency, resilience and safety of our transport networks and reduce their environmental impact.

Innovation and technology will enable us to improve customer choice and the seamless journey experience, in terms of information, ticketing and payment systems. ‘Smart’ data collection and analysis will also enable us to develop a better understanding of customer behaviour and travel demand, with the capability to track and forecast this easily, while advances in digital communications will reduce the need for personal travel and delivery of goods at times when networks are congested.

Policy and Governance

Greater Manchester will have greater autonomy over decision-making and funding, and a fully integrated approach to public service delivery.

Greater Manchester is at the forefront of developing new systems of local government to meet local economic priorities. Governance structures and wider policy decision-making will have a significant impact on our ability to deliver a customer-focused transport system over the next 25 years. We require increased devolution from central government to give much greater autonomy over decision-making and funding.

Greater Manchester is currently below the UK average in terms of both productivity and pay rates. To create a high-wage, high-productivity economy and make a positive contribution to UK economic growth, we need to help residents become more self-sufficient and businesses more productive, reducing the demand on public services. This requires more local decision-making and more targeted transport investment; focused on both growing the overall Greater Manchester economy, but also improving access to economic opportunity for more deprived groups.

As public sector funding pressures continue into the future, we will need to develop innovative approaches to service provision and funding, working with both the private sector and local communities.

As some public services move towards being planned and delivered at the city region rather than the local district level, we need to ensure that local knowledge and understanding is not lost, through effective engagement with local communities and districts. New models of engagement will need to be developed, using technology and social media where appropriate, to ensure a good understanding of the needs of local communities.

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