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 1. Introduction

Transport matters. For Greater Manchester’s economy and communities to flourish and prosper, we need to connect people with opportunities and information, entrepreneurs with ideas and capital, and employers with talent and skills. Excellent transport connectivity can also act as a catalyst for new development and regeneration: transforming and revitalising old sites with new productive uses. But transport can only fulfil this potential if it is planned in tandem with a wider economic, social and environmental programme covering housing, employment, innovation, public service and welfare reforms, and the need to develop a sustainable economy. 

Tram at Metrolink station

This integrated approach is well understood in Greater Manchester and has shaped the largest transport network development programme seen anywhere outside London over recent years such that: 

  • Metrolink is now established as one of the best modern tram systems in Europe; 
  • The renaissance of rail travel is well underway with major investment taking place around the central Manchester hub in particular; 
  • Transport facilities in our town centres have been transformed through modern, attractive interchanges; 
  • We are shaping new approaches to bus travel through bus priority schemes, improving performance standards, investing in low-emission vehicles and by considering options for bus market reform; ​
  • Cycling is now established as an attractive option for commuters, supported by our velocity programme to transform Greater Manchester into a cycle city by 2025; 
  • Our highway network is supported by innovative, real-time traffic management and information systems; and 
  • We are evolving integrated travel information systems to meet the needs of communities and businesses. 

However, much more needs to be done, both within Greater Manchester and at the regional and national level, to create the world-class connectivity for both people and goods that Greater Manchester needs to compete effectively within a global economy. 

This need is understood by national government and the ground-breaking Greater Manchester Agreement will, subject to the necessary legislative changes being implemented, devolve powers and funding for transport, strategic planning, housing investment and crime to an elected Greater Manchester mayor. This will enable us to take a bold, long-term view of investment and maximise the benefits for the conurbatio​n.​ 

Our transport strategy will need to be integrated with wider infrastructure planning to support growth. At the same time, we must focus on meeting the varied needs of our travelling customers, including commuters, business travellers, logistics operators and visitors. 

The document provides a vision of what a successful transport system might look like in 2040 to support Greater Manchester’s wider economic, social and environmental ambitions. Any comments on our vision will be taken into consideration as we develop a new Greater Manchester Transport Strategy for 2040, which will set out more detailed policies and proposals for the coming years. A full draft Transport Strategy and Delivery Plan is due to be published for consultation in 2016 and is intended to replace our current Greater Manchester Local Transport Plan.