Metrolink fares set to rise six per cent in bid to claw back lost revenue
Wednesday 27th September 2017 12:30 Business Greater Manchester Tameside Posted by Nigel P.

The fare freeze put in place to compensate for disruption during the metro link’s eastward expansion is set to end in January

GMCA leaders will be asked to approve an end to a fare freeze on Metrolink which has been in place for three years.

The fare increase will start in January 2018 with a 6% price rise, subject to a decision by council leaders on Friday as transport bosses look to reclaim “revenue foregone” since January 2014.

Passenger fares were originally frozen to reflect disruption caused by the engineering and construction works on the £1.5 billion expansion of the network.

This included enlargement of the system into Tameside and Oldham and the ‘Second City’ crossing through central Manchester, which opened in February 2017.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) estimated the cost of lost ticket sales due to the fare freeze at £61m.

The prospective price rise will see an average 5.93% added to the cost of a ticket from January 2018.

The rise is calculated as 4%, above the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation plus1% annually to be spread over three years to 2020. 

Increases in January 2019 and January 2020 will be based on RPI in July 2018 and 2019.

The new fares are then rounded up to the nearest 20p.

 

Vice Chair of TfGMC and Chair of Metrolink Doreen Dickinson. 

 

Tameside Tory councillor Doreen Dickinson who is Vice Chair of TfGMC and Chair of the Metrolink Sub Committee believes the increase is necessary and justified she said:” The service is very good value for money and increases in real terms will only amount to between twenty to thirty pence per trip. It must be remembered that Metrolink is not subsidised it pays for itself from passengers fares, whereas bus services do receive a subsidy in the form of a direct grant from the government amounting to nearly 35 pence per mile.”  

The increase over time concurs with wishes of the majority of the 5,025 people who responded to a survey launched this summer by TfGM .

Respondents were asked how they wanted fares to increase, 3,944 of those responding (78%) opted to spread the increase over three years as opposed to an immediate full increase from January 2018

Special event quick issue premium fares for football matches will rise from £3 to £4 for adults with a child’s special event fare of £2 under consideration.

Mayor Andy Burnham’s pledge of half-price public transport for 16 to 18-year-olds will be instituted in new child fares for off-peak midweek travelling after 9.30am.

All-day weekend travel cards extended to 16-18s with a personalised ‘Get Me There’ smart card, costing £10 will also be available.

A similar scheme has already been introduced on Greater Manchester buses.

Prior to the start of the expansion work in 2010 the network had 37 stops and covered 24 miles, operating the pre existing Bury to Altrincham rail line and an extension to Eccles.

The network now stretches 58 miles and has 93 stops on seven lines.

The business case for the publicly funded expansion set a target of 22.1 million trips annually on the four new lines in the expansion phase.

According to last year’s evaluation report for the Department of Transport by TfGM there were 10.58 million trips made in 2014/15.

The comparatively high cost of Metrolink compared to local bus services was among the factors considered to be dampening demand.

However transport bosses expect tram use to rise as new lines emerged from their “build-up period” and residential and commercial developments along tram routes increase.

 Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham seeking to maintain travel concession promises for young people.

 

Andy Burnham said: “I committed to putting young people at the heart of my manifesto and a key part of that was to open up opportunities for 16 to 18-year-olds in Greater Manchester.  There is still a way to go but half-price travel on our Metrolink, together with half-price bus travel, are steps in the right direction.

I remain absolutely committed to the introduction of free travel for all 16-18 year olds and will continue working towards that ultimate goal – ensuring young people can more easily access jobs, training, education and all the other opportunities that Greater Manchester offers.”

Greater Manchester Combined Authority is expected to approve the fare increases when it meets on Friday.