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A new zonal fares system is being proposed for Metrolink.

The proposal would replace the existing system with an easy to understand zonal system – similar to London’s travel network, offering simpler, more flexible and better value fares.

Between June 1 and 17 members of the public and organisations were asked to share their feedback as part of a public engagement exercise. We received more then 4,250 responses.

This information will be used to inform the final decision on the change, which will be made by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in July.

The current system

The current approach has evolved as the network has expanded.

Metrolink fares are calculated on a stop-to-stop basis between the ninety-three stops on the network, with the network divided into eighteen fare bands.

As a result, there are over 8,500 fare combinations per ticket type (single, peak return, off-peak return etc) and customers can only travel between the two locations specified on their ticket.

Why is a change being proposed?

The proposal is an important step toward delivering the long-term objectives for fares and ticketing as set out in the Greater Manchester 2040 Transport Strategy. It would make using Metrolink simpler, more convenient and better value for money.

It would also help to pave the way for a more integrated ticketing system for Greater Manchester that allows people to travel seamlessly between modes, and would offer the freedom to enjoy more journeys for the same price.

The proposal in detail

Zonal fare systems are widely used on light rail networks both in the UK (eg London) and globally. They allow unrestricted travel within the zone(s) a ticket has been purchased for, which means more flexibility for customers.

The proposal for Metrolink would introduce four ringed zones on the network.

The proposed zones have been determined based on the same factors used to design the current system. These include the distance and time taken to travel, and a number of local factors which have been taken into account as the network has expanded.

This proposal is, therefore, an evolution of the current system. This means that, if it is implemented, it will be able to manage changes to capacity and the ability of Metrolink to cover its costs without public subsidy.

View an illustrative map of the proposed zones below:
Illustrative zonal map

View a geographic map of the proposed zones.

Fares would be calculated based on the number of zones you travel in, with each zone only counted once.

For example:
• A journey from Manchester Airport to Bury would be charged as a four zone fare.
• A 7 Day Zone 1 + Zone 2 ticket would allow you unlimited travel within Zone 1 and Zone 2 for 7 days.

Return fares (peak and off-peak) would be replaced by daily travel cards allowing unlimited travel within the selected zones. This would make daily travel more convenient and would offer the flexibility to enjoy more journeys for the same price.

Under the proposal, some stops are located on the boundary between two zones eg Stretford on the Altrincham Line. These stops are included in the zone which would give the lower fare to the customer dependent on the direction of travel. For example:
• A journey from Stretford to Sale would be calculated as a Zone 3 fare.
• A journey from Stretford to Piccadilly would be calculated as a Zone 1 + Zone 2 fare.

Customers would be able to use all existing and future ticketing and payment options to travel, including contactless, get me there (app and smart card) and paper tickets.

The proposal would not affect the current rail ticket add-on.

How does this affect fares?

Under the proposal the majority of zonal fares would be set to the lowest current prices. Therefore, most customers would not pay more than the pre-planned increases for early 2019, with many tickets providing better value for money as a result. For example, the price of the network wide travel-card will be reduced from £7.60 to £7.00.

The proposal would set the fares for travel within any single zone at the same price. This means that fares in the current ‘City Zone’ area of the network would increase to be consistent with other similar fares across Greater Manchester.

The proposed prices below give you an idea of how much your ticket would cost.

Any single zone (1, 2, 3 or 4)

  • Single: £1.40
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £2.60
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £1.80
  • 7-day: £10.20
  • 28-day: £35.00
  • Annual: £400.00

Two zones (1+2)

  • Single: £2.80
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £4.20
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £3.40
  • 7-day: £17.00
  • 28-day: £58.00
  • Annual: £650.00

Two zones (2+3 or 3+4)

  • Single: £2.40
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £3.40
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £3.00
  • 7-day: £14.80
  • 28-day: £50.00
  • Annual: £570.00

Three zones (1+2+3)

  • Single: £4.00
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £6.20
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £4.20
  • 7-day: £24.60
  • 28-day: £81.00
  • Annual: £930.00

Three zones (2+3+4)

  • Single: £3.20
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £4.60
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £3.80
  • 7-day: £19.80
  • 28-day: £67.00
  • Annual: £740.00

All zones (1+2+3+4)

  • Single: £4.60
  • Daily travelcard (peak): £7.00
  • Daily travelcard (off-peak): £4.80
  • 7-day: £30.00
  • 28-day: £98.00
  • Annual: £1,110.00

Other ticket options

  • Child and concessionary fares would be set at half the equivalent adult fare
  • Family ‘All zones’ travelcard would become £7.10 (off-peak) and £9.20 (weekend)
  • Weekend ‘All zones’ travelcard would become £6.60

With ‘Pay As You Go’ contactless payment being launched later this year, the proposal would allow zonal daily ‘capping’ to be introduced in early 2019. Customers would be able to use their contactless bank card (or device) to make as many journeys as required in a day knowing that the fare will be capped at the best possible price.

View the proposed prices as a table.

What happens next?

The proposal will be reviewed following the close of the survey, and the final version is subject to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) approval in July. If approved, the zonal system would be introduced on the Metrolink network in early 2019.

Find out more

Still searching for answers? Try one of the following links for more information:
Frequently asked questions
Report to the GMCA on introducing zonal fares
Press release

Contact us

If you have any questions, please email email: or call 0161 244 1000.