Transport bosses have confirmed they have decided to scrap free wi-fi on Metrolink permanently as a cost-saving option, despite the objections of Liberal Democrat Councillor Howard Sykes MBE.
The issue was discussed on Friday 22 January at a meeting of the Rail and Metrolink Committee of the Transport for Greater Manchester Board at the request of Councillor Sykes, who sits on the Committee and Board as an Oldham representative.
Councillor Sykes also represents Shaw Ward, which is located on the busiest Metrolink tram service and has the most used stop – Shaw and Crompton – on the Rochdale–Oldham line.
In July 2020, in response to complaints from constituents who use the tram, he raised that the Wi-fi service had not been available on trams on the line since the onset of the Coronavirus Lockdown. Councillor Sykes wrote to Metrolink bosses asking them to turn it back on. He was informed that during the travel restrictions which accompanied the Covid Lockdown, the service had been switched off and was under long-term ‘review’.
Today’s Committee meeting confirmed the switch off of the Wi-fi service permanently citing cost pressures.
Commenting Councillor Sykes said: “Unfortunately, no Wi-fi on trams and the Manchester City Centre free buses is now a reality. This done deal was a decision that was only exposed because I raised it, and there are no plans to reintroduce it. I think this is short-sighted.
“Like passengers on buses and trains, Wi-fi is a service that Metrolink passengers will expect because as passenger usage does start to increase after the pandemic, and as we look to expand the network, there will be an increased demand for free Wi-fi from passengers. The fact this was done ‘on the quiet’ is typical how the GM Mayor makes such ‘bad news’ decisions.”