Andy Burnham has named former Cycling and Walking Commissioner Chris Boardman in an expanded role as Greater Manchester’s first Transport Commissioner.
Boardman has been hired to accelerate the deployment of the Bee Network – a fully integrated transportation system, including the launch of the UK’s largest cycling and walking network.
The appointment reflects the importance of establishing an integrated, affordable and accessible transport system for the metropolitan area. Boardman will be participating in the newly established Bee Network Delivery Board, which meets weekly to ensure the metropolitan area’s plans stay on track.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “I am delighted that Chris Boardman has agreed to become Greater Manchester’s first Transportation Commissioner – his work and his drive to make our metropolitan area a global player to be part of great places like Copenhagen and New York has been inspiring over the past three years and I know he will apply the same vision in his new job. “
Transport Commissioner Chris Boardman said: “I am very pleased to take on the role of Transport Commissioner. Our vision for Greater Manchester was never just to provide high quality cycling and walking routes. While they are essential ingredients in making Greater Manchester a better place to grow, stand up and age, they are only part of the solution.
“When we combine our plan for an active world-class travel network with trams, buses, trains, taxis and private rental cars, we can give people everything they need to travel the region without having to drive. It is also crucial that we achieve our goal of being climate neutral by 2038. Greater Manchester can lead the country to show how this can be done and I look forward to helping. “
It was also announced today that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will approve the next milestone for the launch of the first franchise buses in January 2023 by asking Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to start the leasing contract process initiate franchise bus services in the northwest of the metropolitan area, including Wigan and Bolton.
Mr Burnham added: “I said on the first day of my second term that we urgently need to make our buses work better for people across the metropolitan area. This means that they are much cheaper, more reliable and, above all, part of a single integrated ticket system – as is already the case in London. I want this to happen as soon as possible and I will be asked next week to approve this important next step in our journey. “
TfGM also released today results from new research showing that more than half of residents (54%) living in Phase 1 of the city-region’s proposed bike rental zone (with a total population of 198,000 residents) stop using the system would consider when it launches. Currently, 13% of Greater Manchester residents cycle once a week. So the new numbers show how transformative the system is likely to be.
In a broader sense, the survey found that 4 in 10 people living in or traveling to Greater Manchester would also consider using the system. Only 26% of current Greater Manchester bike rides are women, but 45% of women surveyed said they would consider using the program.
The plan that e-bikes make up a significant part of the bike rental supply also appears to be justified, with 67% of those who would consider the system said that including e-bikes would make them more likely to use it.
Mayor Andy Burnham added: “There is clearly a huge appetite for the bike rental system in Greater Manchester and plans to bring this to our streets are now moving ahead rapidly. TfGM is working closely with Manchester City Council, Salford City Council, Trafford City Council and other partners to bring the first phase of this world-class bike rental program to our metropolitan area by November. “
Chris Boardman added, “All the data suggests that the bike sharing system is likely to lead to a huge increase in the number of cyclists, especially women.
“Owning, storing and maintaining a bike is a barrier to many and bike rental will remove these by providing an affordable, sustainable and healthy transportation alternative for hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors. I travel the region every week so I’m one of the many who can’t wait to use the service in person. “
The first phase of the bike rental program includes the regional center, Etihad Stadium, Old Trafford, the Oxford Road cycling and walking corridor, Chorlton, Salford Quays and the University of Salford.