22 September 2017

Mayor sparks congestion debate at UK-first electric bus trial

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​Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham hopes plugging-in to new technology could help address two of his key manifesto pledges.

The Mayor has today, Friday 22 September, launched his ‘congestion conversation’ and wants to hear how our oversubscribed roads are impacting people’s lives – and what ideas the public has to help solve it, as latest figures show residents across Greater Manchester lose nearly 40hrs a year as a result of congested roads.

Congestion is directly linked to a growing economy but congestion can also cause the economy to slow as the region becomes unattractive to businesses and new investment.

It is estimated congestion costs the Greater Manchester economy £1.3bn per year, through issues such as lost productivity and late deliveries.

The announcement came as Manchester welcomed Volvo’s 7900e fully electric, zero emission bus to the city centre on the free Metroshuttle service.

It’s the first time this type of bus – which is charged by a pantograph – has operated on the UK’s streets.

The Mayor, said: “Congestion is a crippling problem facing so many roads in Greater Manchester. It affects people’s quality of life, it costs our businesses and it creates poor air quality that contributes to illness and premature death. This can’t carry on. 

“That’s why I am launching my ‘congestion conversation’ today. I want to get people’s views on tackling congestion, what impact it has, what causes it and ideas on how we can work together to make things better. I want to find out what it would take to encourage people to leave their cars at home and instead use public transport, cycle to work, or car share with others.”

According to INRIX Manchester is the second most congested city in the UK and the 46th most congested in Europe.

People can get involved in the ‘congestion conversation’ by visiting www.tfgm.com/congestion. Views are being sought for six weeks until Friday 3 November and Andy Burnham, along with the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities, is expected to publish a plan to address the region’s congestion issues in January 2018.

People wanting to experience the new electric bus can do so for free, as it’s currently running across the city centre on the Metroshuttle 2 service, operated by First Manchester.

The eight week trial will monitor, amongst other things, vehicle charge time and range, energy consumption, reliability - including charging infrastructure - and customer experience.

Nick Page, Managing Director of Volvo Bus, said: “We are very excited to see the Volvo 7900e start its first demonstration period here in Manchester. Knowing how committed Mayor Andy Burnham and TfGM are to improving air quality in the city, we are confident the 7900e and accompanying technologies can go a long way to helping them achieve their goals.

“At Volvo Bus we have a strong vision of supplying a blend of vehicles including hybrids, electric hybrids and full electric vehicles to towns and cities across the UK, which will significantly contribute to improving the environment for those who live, work and visit these places.”

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TfGMC), said: “It’s the first time this type of bus and charging technology has been used in the UK and so to have it debuting in Manchester is a real coup.

“I’m really proud of our green credentials but absolutely, we can do more. 

“We know that harmful emissions have a significant and detrimental impact on the quality of air we breathe, so it’s therefore vital that we explore the technology available to us as we look at how we can make our public transport system the greenest it can be.

“We’re going to look very closely at how it performs over the course of this trial and I’m really looking forward to seeing the results.” 

For information on public transport across Greater Manchester visit www.tfgm.com, call 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays) or follow @OfficialTfGM on Twitter.

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