Manchester’s Congestion Charge Effect

Table of contents for Manchester Congestion Charging - Reprinted from Good Company

  1. The Congestion Charge Business Effect
  2. The New Gold Rush – In Manchester
  3. Manchester’s Congestion Charge Effect

The worst case is that Manchester’s councils and their consultants predict a range of goals that congestion charging will achieve. Goals that even their most optimistic dreams would never achieve.

How do I know that?

Look at a report by Transport for London, the body that runs London’s congestion charging scheme. It notes that six out of 13 traffic targets set for 2010 will not be met, including:

The Outer Circle For Manchester's Congestion Charging

· reduced congestion (congestion will actually increase by 8%)

· meeting air quality targets (increased diesel pollutants)

· reducing greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide emissions will increase)

· improving bus reliability

· reduce numbers of people seriously injured or killed (likely to be met)

· encourage more people to use public transport (likely to be met)

However, as Lynne Featherstone, chairwoman of the London Assembly’s transport committee, says:

“We won’t be able to bring down the levels of congestion in the suburbs the only thing we can do is improve bus services. Since I came into power there were four million bus journeys a day now there are six million.”

More people are using public transport in London but that increases the numbers of bus and taxi journeys and with it diesel pollutants. London Underground appears to be even more heavily overloaded than before the London scheme came into force.

A significant increase in congestion and pollution in the London suburbs around the congestion-charging scheme zone has been noted.

Manchester’s approach seems likely to have the following effect:

  • spread traffic over the day as no charge is applied outside the peak times
  • People able to change their start and finish times can avoid the charge by staggering the times going to and leaving work or going shopping
  • Aiming to reduce congestion by rewarding, or at least not punishing, those who drive at non-peak times
  • People in the city centre retail areas Who must be in ready for customers and who are on low wages will be affected by the charge
  • Anyone who must be in the office or drop children off at school or at childminders during the peak times is still affected.

London – Manchester Difference

(This is the second post adapted from an article I wrote printed in the “Good Company” Northwest Business Newspaper.)

The huge difference between Manchester and London is London’s vastly superior transport infrastructure. Canons Park - Underground Station

London’s Infrastructure

London has:

  • the Underground, available over a wide area of London and beyond
  • Central train stations (King’s Cross, St Pancreas, Paddington and Euston servicing a vast swathe of the area around London with commuter trains
  • London’s bus network has been augmented to offer even more spaces for passengers
  • The vast number of black cabs available

Manchester’s Infrastructure

Manchester has:

  • Good bus services for popular routes like Bury to Manchester (X59) and similar services from towns outside the centre
  • Elsewhere bus journeys involve several changes to reach a destination, which has the effect of increasing a journey time enormously
  • The Metrolink, currently only provides links to a very few towns, increasing a little with the Big Bang to Oldham and Rochadale
  • Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly train stations provide commuter trains for areas outside Manchester

Compared to the London Underground the train stations and Metrolink services a tiny number of commuters each day.

Congestion Charge Versus Public Transport

In the end the congestion charge’s ability to make any impression on Manchester’s predicted traffic congestion hinges on two things:

1) The price of the public transport option versus driving a car and paying the charge

2) The perceived availability and convenience of public transport
Probably the worst bit of news for congestion charging is that bus and Metrolink ticket prices are so high that it comes down to whether you’re willing to pay for the convenience of using a car. Which let’s face it everyone does because we’re still buying huge amounts of petrol despite the prices.

In the next post about congestion charging I’ll explain how London business was affected by congestion charging and what might happen in Manchester.

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About Jim Symcox

Manchester is great. At Manchester University I take part in Gilbert & Sullivan productions each year. I'm a Manchester-based business growth coach and marketing evangelist and like to help companies grow more profitable, more quickly.
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