Travel for Greater Manchester are proposing a new ‘four-zone’ based ticketing system, supposedly reducing the number of pricing options from over 8,500 to just 10 zone-based fares in order to create a “system that is simple, convenient and good value for money”. The change could potentially be introduced in early 2019, on approval from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

A public listening exercise is currently taking place, involving a questionnaire exploring public opinions of the proposed system. However, this survey, whilst asking for age during the completion does not mention the impact of this change on the young people of Greater Manchester – an issue which needs serious attention.

Currently, 16-18-year-olds of Manchester are faced with a series of confusing and nonsensical options regarding tram fares. For 16-year-olds, they are only counted within the 11-16 age bracket until the 31st August after they turn 16 – leaving many 16-year olds outside of this age bracket. From then on, 16 and 17-year-olds are no longer counted as ‘children’ despite the legality that disputes this. The introduction of the ‘Get me there’ card was meant to simplify this, with talks of concessionary rates for students. However, this has been entirely ineffective – there are no clear options to select a concessionary or ‘half-price’ option at the stations, and the whole concept has been both poorly advertised and poorly delivered.

16-18-year olds are then forced to paying the full adult fare – despite their compulsory attendance of full-time education severely limiting their income – if any at all. To add insult to injury, many young people use the Metrolink to travel to their place of education – often suddenly having to double this fee to continue making the same journey that had done since the age of 11 – a fare that seems incredibly unjust. This sense of injustice is only heightened when compared to the London system, with Andy Burnham acknowledging just how much further “ahead” they are.

London’s system for under 18s is clear and logical. 5-10-year-olds travel free on all Transport for London (TfL) and most National Rail services in London. 11-15-year-olds can travel free on buses and trams, with half-price on all other TfL services and most National Rail services in London. 16 and 17-year-olds can travel at half-price on all TfL services and most National Rail services in London. If they are residents of London they may also be eligible for free bus and tram travel – and all of these are linked by one card. This highlights the shambolically disjointed nature of Manchester’s trams, buses and rail (which is another issue entirely), as well as the inevitable strain of transport costs that are evidently avoidable.

It seems that once again, Manchester has drawn the short straw. Amongst the current northern rail crisis, it has become apparent that northern transport is not up to an appropriate standard – with young people bearing the brunt of this. A zonal system for trams would undoubtedly make an improvement – major cities all over the world follow this system – but we must not let young people be forgotten whilst making this change. I urge you to make your voice heard by highlighting the necessity of considering student tram pricing through the additional comments section of the following survey.

Feedback closes midnight Sunday 17th June 2018.
Metrolink zonal fares survey

By Eloise Hall