The Government is set to announce a new congestion charge zone for Greater Manchester
9 June 2008

The Government is set to announce the introduction of congestion charge in Greater Manchester, including the creation of the largest charging zone yet created.

The proposals will incorporate two separate charging ‘rings’, the outer being Manchester’s orbital M60 motorway and the inner one being based on the city centre itself. Drivers will be issued with ‘tag & beacon’ transponders, and then charged each time they cross one of the boundaries.

Proposed charges for the scheme are £2 to cross the outer ring heading into the city during morning rush hour, another £1 to cross the inner ring and then an extra £1 to cross each ring heading out during the afternoon. In a significant change from London’s CC scheme, charging will only take place during peak periods: 7am-9.30am and 4pm-6.30pm.

The charging proposal is part of a bid being made to the Transport Innovation Fund, which will bring up to £3 billion on investment into improving public transport in Greater Manchester, including the creation of new Metrolink tram routes. The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, which is co-ordinating the bid, says that no charge will be introduced until improvements have been made to bus, tram and rail services.

The proposals are likely to face significant opposition. Stockport, Trafford and Bury councils are all opposing the proposals, while Bolton council has pledged to hold a local referendum on support for the changes.

Graham Stringer, a local Labour MP and the former leader of Manchester City Council, has also expressed serious doubts about the scheme, likening it to blackmail by central Government. In a recent Parliamentary debate he said:

“We have got £500 million towards a £1.5 billion tram scheme and the Government have said, “If you want the extra £1 billion and, incidentally, some more for buses and trains, you will, in practice, have to have a congestion charge.”

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“I do not think that that is fair when one looks at the investment that is being made in London. The case for investing in the tram and train systems in Greater Manchester stands on its own, and a separate case would have to be made for introducing a congestion charge. Surprisingly, the figures produced by the urban traffic control unit in Manchester show that congestion in 11 of the 14 centres of Greater Manchester has fallen since 2001.”

Mike Duff

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9 June 2008

Isn't it nice not to have some crap from JJB on a thread to do with the government! Anyway, onto my point. It seems very interesting that a Labour MP and the various councils are all opposed to this cleary crazy plan. Like he states, the trams etc would give more options to those wanting to get out of their cars. Instead of wasting many millions setting up a scheme and then losing many millions through bankrupted business and the general increase in cost eveything moved around Manchester would have to bear why not simply just give the money that would be spent setting the whole thing to the proposed public transport schemes that would reduce a lot of the congestion anyway?

The signs are pretty positive that the various councils will employ people power to get the message across to the government that it is not wanted or needed. I guess it goes to show that if you are in the pocket of someone powerful in the government you can do what the hell you like (Ken and the London congestion ripoff extension going ahead with a minimum of public consultation and just ignoring the opposition expressed) but when you try to push your weight around (the government bullying Manchesters councils) and impose something they do not want then all of sudden public consultation and opposition is listened to and used against them. Politics, lovely eh.

9 June 2008

Manchester already taxes motorists through parking charges, they have removed most of the on street parking in the centre, noticed on Saturday evening they had removed most of the parking bays on Lloyd street and Jacksons Road, so we spent another 10mins driving around looking for a "free space" paying the duty on the fuel used and causing more traffic and pollution rather than paying the £8 for parking in a multi storey on a Saturday evening.

The trams in Manchester are crap by the way compared to ones of a similar age in many continental cities.

So we can look forward to more London level charging while receiving provincial levels of public services, central government just does not seem to get it, (though Manchester council seems to get away with it) and it is even less likely to get it with their draconian measures against protests.

Maybe we can live in hope and the government will fail, because if they manage to tag our cars they may move the boundaries for charging.

9 June 2008

I work in Manchester and in an interesting parallel with London, they've recently gone round changing all the road markings in the centre in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to increase congestion. An example is a roundabout on the inner ring road where 75% of people are going straight on at peak times and they changed the approach from both lanes can go straight on to only one lane going straight on - with predictable results. In a time where environmental concerns are paramount that sort of behaviour should be stopped.

9 June 2008

Its bloody communism ! That's what it is. This bloody government needs to be thrown out at the next possible chance. It seems perfectly logical to me that if there is demand for more roads then you have to build them if it is reduced congestion that you are after. We are not a nation of urbanites. Public transport can not possibly deal with all of us. People have to use their cars and, moreover, like to use their cars. Why are we therefore not allowed the roads with which to enjoy and use them ?

9 June 2008

Having lived in Manchester for the last 24 years I feel well placed in making the following assessment.

The current tram system only runs from North to South (Middelton to Altrincham) and efforts to raise further money to continue the development of it were knocked back by the Government, with the notion that the available funds would now be spent on the Olympic site!

The bus network is a total sham, a TV documentary some months ago highlighted that something akin to 35 to 40 separate bus companies are operating the Greater Manchester but they do not all recognise the all day bus pass!, many drivers do not speak English, therefore they cannot read road signs (highlighted by the recent events of a bus being driven by a non English speaking man who went under a bridge and nearly took the roof off the bus). In addition, people new to the city cannot ask if this bus goes to a certain point.

12 to 14 major routes into Manchester will be exposed to the charge, but this will only operate in the rush hour periods. If you are driving against the flow you will not be charged.

The report this morning was that the scheme will not be operational until 2013.

My problem with this is that in comparison to London, the public transport infrastructure is not there. The Government themselves have already knocked back the further development of the Tram system. All the local authorities have to agree for it to go ahead.

Having said that Manchester has the largest network of motorways around it in the UK and in the mornings they are generally gridlocked, so something has to be done. Sort out the public transport first, then consider the charging scheme, thereby giving commuters a viable alternative.

9 June 2008

Gridlocked or not, how many people actually "want" this charge to exist in their own city, that's what I want to know?

9 June 2008

I went to university in Manchester and when I was there, the city was being regenerated from what it was back in the day to what it is today. This, in my opinion, was an improvement. The industry moved out and the entertainment, music and leisure industry moved in. Back in the 80's, and I found this hard to believe, there were less than 200 residential properties in the city centre itself. Today, there are thousands and many more in the outlying areas but all inside the M60. If there was ever a city where the car was the blood of the city, then Manchester is that city. A mobile population in a vibrant city.

The city planners looked at Barcelona and how the Olympics regenerated that city and their notion of a 24 hour city and tried to create something similar, the Olympic bid in 92(?) was the first step on the road to regeneration and the IRA effort was the catalyst for inward investment and change. I reckon they did a reasonable job. This could destroy all that effort if they exclude the agent od so much of that change, a mobile population using half decent roads and infrastructure, that's where the investment should be.

How this will help, I'll never know. No-one will bother going into Manchester if it costs that much to bloody well get in, throw in parking on top of that and you've got a deserted city centre, offices will move out and there will be a glut of business rentals and empty office space, the shops will start to go thereafter. Manchester is not London, it's a completely different prospect without the many centres of shopping and residential centres one finds in London. The train station, just rebuilt, struggles at rush hour now.

Another thing, the Trafford Centre is on the wrong side of the M60 and who the frak would pay to go there...............!!

Absolute stupidity.

10 June 2008

On the regional news last night it was revealed that the money from the Government would not be made available without the public transport infrastructure being improved.

Scummy, the Trafford centre is inside the M60 outer ring road, but it may not be situated on one of the major roads into the centre, thereby bypassing the charge. Travelling on the M60 will not incur any charge at this stage.

Park and ride is a good alternative being used in Chester and is well used on the current tram network in Manchester. This can be extended quite easily. I use the Chester park and ride and it costs £1 all day!

It's all about how well it's planned and managed.

10 June 2008

I've never been convinced that congestion charging, in any of it's forms, works.

In London many hail the charge as a success, citing lower traffic levels as proof.. I've never noticed any difference, except paying the charge and sitting in the traffic with my wallet slightly lighter.

Nobody drives into London unless they have to, by virtue their employment.

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