UMP organises successful Greater Manchester Transport Hustings

April 17, 2024

Earlier in April, Greater Manchester mayoral candidates Mayor Andy Burnham (Labour), Councillor Jake Austin (Liberal Democrats) and Green Party Councillor Michael Welton (representing candidate Councillor Hannah Spencer) took part in transport hustings organised by the Urban Mobility Partnership ahead of the upcoming mayoral election on May 2nd. 

Julian Scriven, Managing Director of Brompton Bicycle and Senior Partner of UMP, moderated the hustings, which focused on candidates’ proposed transport policies for Greater Manchester if they were to be elected as Mayor.

The event began with opening statements in which candidates had the opportunity to outline their broader transport vision to support the development of well-connected, accessible, effective and sustainable transport methods in the region. This was followed by a question and response session with Julian, including questions on the use of shared, active and public transport solutions, investment in multimodal transport infrastructure and technologies such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), and improving air quality. After this was an audience Q&A with pre-selected questions on a variety of subjects, including a question from UMP founding member Enterprise, when Gary Palmer (General Manager of North West England Operation) asked candidates on their plans to expand car share programmes and how they would support developers to have transport connected to new projects by using Section 106 funding.

Over the course of the evening, Mayor Andy Burnham (Labour) outlined a significant number of proposed transport policies for a potential third term, with a central focus on buses and the Bee Network. First and foremost, Mr Burnham underlined his ambitious aim to make the Bee Network the UK’s first zero-emission system at street level by 2030. Moreover, he highlighted the proposed completion of a fully capped, integrated fare system across bikes, buses, and trams by January 2025 as the most significant factor driving delivery of a joined-up, London-style integrated transport system in Greater Manchester.

Under the plans, passengers will benefit from a ‘tap in, tap out’ system, as well as the addition of ‘hopper’ functionality to the capped £2 bus fare. Mr Burnham also mentioned a new discounted bus pass for 18 to 21-year-olds and the recent addition of more buses to several previously underperforming routes, as well as proposing the initiation of night bus services, with the aim of a night bus network covering our 10 boroughs by the end of the next mayoral term.

Beyond buses, the mayor detailed his plans to add overland rail into the Bee Network by 2028, with eight commuter rail lines to be integrated in order to enhance accessibility in areas without Metrolink service. Despite being a strong proponent of cleaner air, he ruled out the introduction of a Clean Air Zone. Instead, he asked campaigners to back the Bee Network and argued for a behavioural change approach by incentivising public transport and active travel through better and safer services.

When questioned by Gary on the role of car club in the Greater Manchester area, Mr Burnham encouragingly challenged Enterprise to find ways to complement the Bee Network in areas of the city region where people do not have high access to cars or public transportation, via use of car club. Enterprise are looking forward to working with the elected Mayor and their team on this.

While supportive of the general direction of the Bee Network reforms, Councillor Jake Austin (Liberal Democrats, Hazel Grove) promised to focus greater attention on the outer suburbs of Greater Manchester – services he described as “having dropped off the radar” – and committed to restoring previously cut hyper-local bus services. He also called for an easier, more accessible platform to replace the Bee Network app, describing the current version as “not really fit for purpose” for simple tasks like purchasing a single bus ticket and not providing good enough bus-tracking services.

Regarding other modes of transport, Mr Austin proposed extending the Metrolink to under-served areas like Stockport, Bolton, Haywood, and Rochdale and developing a circular Metrolink route to better connect suburbs, with plans to create a business case for this if elected mayor. A keen cyclist, he also stated his support for increased co-operation with local authorities to better create a more coherent cycling infrastructure, rather than the four or five types of cycle path currently in use, to encourage more active travel.

Representing Councillor Hannah Spencer, Councillor Michael Welton (Green Party) firmly and repeatedly advocated for his party’s strong stance on active travel and clean air measures, such as Vision Zero, 20mph limits, low traffic neighbourhoods, segregated cycle lanes, and – in contrast to the other two candidates – clean air zones.

Moreover, he proposed the adoption of a GM-wide ‘kerbside strategy’ to encourage greener streets and better accessibility, incorporating features such as cyclist storage, EV charging points, and spaces for car and bike sharing services. Indeed, Councillor Welton welcomed Enterprise’s proposed increased involvement in Greater Manchester as a means of offering flexibility to people who might not need to own a car, and reducing single occupancy car usage. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of fostering a new generation of cyclists to instil sustainable travel habits early.

These hustings, organised by the Urban Mobility Partnership, in collaboration with Clean Cities Campaign and Asthma and Lung UK, were a great forum to hear directly from candidates on their vision for transport in the Greater Manchester region. We thank candidates for attending and for their valuable contributions to the debate, and we thank everyone who joined us in Manchester.

Below, we have included the full recording of the hustings, with a transcript to download from the button for accessibility. We hope you enjoy!

 If you would like to find out any more information about our regional engagement, future events, or the work of UMP more generally, please contact us at 


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