Policy priority 2: A strategic aim

Build the city-region case for congestion charging in Manchester city centre

  • Present the case that congestion charging will help manage city centre traffic
  • Show that congestion charging can benefit the whole city region, through investment in public transport for poorly connected areas
  • Evaluate the outcomes and manage extensions and improvements accordingly.

Manage traffic and act on air quality

Although in recent history this has been an issue fraught with political controversy, a bold plan for Manchester’s infrastructure across the city must include a congestion charge for the city centre.

Road use charging is an effective way to restrict road space, ration congestion within the city and ensure traffic is manageable. In addition it signals a proactive and environmentally friendly agenda, which can help set Greater Manchester apart from other rival cities and showcase the mayor’s commitment to long term health and environmental goals.

Manchester city centre is the economic priority for the city-region – but currently congestion hampers deliveries, busses and commuters. To meet the scale of economic growth ambitions that the city holds, the city centre must allow for the free movement of goods, customers and staff. A congestion charge would aid this by reducing the amount of traffic in the area.

Fund priorities in poorly connected areas

The revenue received from congestion charging can also enable the mayor to fund other transport priorities, either by hypothecating the charge directly or as collateral to borrow against future returns. The mayor can use the resources raised from the charge to meet the transport needs in other areas of the city which are less well served by public transport – for example by subsidising more frequent bus routes from Rochdale.

By using congestion charging to free up road space in the economic core of the city centre, the metro mayor could benefit from considerable resources to fund transport priorities for other areas of the city. This would promote an efficient, sustainable and comprehensive transport system for the city-region.

Evaluate the impacts

To create the best scheme and improve it, effective evaluation must be embedded from the beginning. Defining what success looks like will be key. The metro mayor will need to decide on the balance between traffic reduction and the revenue needed for investment, and set measurable targets for both. After setting targets for what constitutes success early on, the scheme must be designed in a way which allows for data to be collected and analysed in a systematic and effective way. Bringing partner authorities on board and learning from the successes and mistakes of London’s charging scheme will also help in finding the right geographies, cost, price and complexity for the charge. This should be an ongoing process used to refine how the scheme is implemented.