The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has written directly to the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham opposing proposed fare increases for passengers taking the tram from Shaw and Crompton into Manchester.
Under the Mayor’s recent proposals to introduce zonal fares across Greater Manchester, commuters travelling into Manchester from Shaw and Crompton, and vice versa, will be hit with a 4.5% to 6% fare increase.
Councillor Sykes, who represents Oldham on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, supports the introduction of zonal fares, contactless payment and daily fare capping, as these are all proposals that Liberal Democrat Councillors in Greater Manchester have been seeking for several years, but he has real concerns about the impact of the new zonal fares for local passengers travelling into Manchester.
Councillor Sykes explained: “The Mayor is proposing to establish four fare zones in Greater Manchester. Shaw and Crompton is in the outer Zone 4. All other Oldham stations are in Zone 3, Derker is on the boundary. This will mean that passengers wishing to travel from Shaw and Crompton into Manchester city centre for work or leisure – or vice versa – will have to pay significant more than any passengers joining elsewhere in the Borough.”
“Shaw and Crompton passengers will see increases in their fares by 4.5 – 6%. My question to the Greater Manchester Mayor is ‘Why?’ In my view this defies common sense, and it is also unfair. Oldham is one Metropolitan Borough so surely Shaw and Crompton should be in the same zone as the rest of the Borough?”
Councillor Sykes is concerned that this will discourage commuters from taking the tram to work or indeed taking the tram to look further afield for work. He added:
“If we want to promote a free labour market across Greater Manchester, with employees choosing to travel to expanding places of business by tram, this does not provide any encouragement. In addition because of the proposed reduction in off-peak fares to Rochdale, Shaw and Crompton will be more likely to spend their leisure time there to the detriment of Oldham’s night-time economy.”
Councillor Sykes is also concerned that these proposals appear to mask the near-20% fare increase over three years being implemented by the Mayor and Labour Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Commenting Councillor Sykes said: “This will be a huge fare increase which will be a extra financial burden for many local passengers. And in my view any fare increase is neither necessary, nor justified. The tram network is in massive profit; little action is being taken to collect revenue from fare evaders; passengers on the Rochdale – Oldham line have suffered from an increase in on-board and trackside anti-social and criminal behaviour, including several vicious attacks at tram stops; there is poor operational performance on the Rochdale – Oldham line; and we have still not got promised direct link to Piccadilly, the principal mainline station for Greater Manchester.”