Manchester to Get Oyster Card-Style Travel System

The Greater Manchester area will soon be operating a card-based system for travel on the bus, tram and train systems.The long-proposed scheme, which will be Manchester’s very own version of London’s successful Oyster card system, is set to become reality as the council has secured a £32.5 million grant from the government to implement the plans.The cards will initially be created for use on the Metrolink tram network, which, with recent and ongoing plans for extensions to the existing lines, could simplify travel across the Greater Manchester area. Currently, users either have to buy season tickets or purchase single use tickets from machines at tram stations prior to travel. With the new cards, passengers could pre-load their cards with credit for use on all routes around the city.This would bring an end to carrying small change and queuing to buy tickets and could be in place by late 2013. Eventually, the system will be installed for use on all buses and trains as well, making travel within the region far more uniform because users would simply need one card to access all services.Alongside the government grant, local resources from the Greater Manchester Transport Fund will be used to help the system get up and running.One of the key aims of opening up the travel system in this way is to encourage people to look beyond their immediate areas when looking both for leisure and work purposes. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, the Chairman for the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, Andrew Fender, said: “We want to get more people into work, to broaden our talent pool, to reduce the burden of congestion on business, to reduce our carbon emissions and to improve the health of people in Greater Manchester.”Furthermore, it is predicted that the creation of the card-based system itself will create up to 900 jobs in the region and boost the local economy by £28m each year.There are green motives, too; if people are encouraged to use the public transport system, experts believe that carbon emissions will be cut by around 1,000 tonnes annually.As part of this drive to improve public transport in Greater Manchester, more money will also be invested in the Greater Manchester Commuter Cycle Project, which was approved last year to encourage people to cycle. This project will be furnished with new cycle centres and hubs around the region to make cycling a viable alternative to driving.All this adds up to a bright future for Manchester public transport and for the area as a whole.

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