Manchester, United Kingdom

Episode: #30 Autonomy: "Change Is Really Driven By Policy-Makers"

Guests: Nick Fairclough, Senior Policy Manager at Transport for Greater Manchester


Find transcript here


Summaries of Key Takeaways:  

  • Historical Leadership in Transport: Manchester's pioneering role in developing modern railways and buses, establishing a long tradition in transportation innovation. 
  • Current Transportation Strategy: The emphasis on taking control of local bus services to improve public transport accessibility and integration across Greater Manchester. 
  • Vision for the Future: The ambition to create a London-style integrated transport system, incorporating buses, rail, active travel, and Metrolink. 
  • Public and Private Sector Collaboration: Engaging residents and businesses in shaping the Bee Network, aimed at fostering a sense of ownership and tailoring services to community needs. 
  • Challenges and Solutions: Addressing integration barriers and leveraging devolution deals to enhance control over local transport services. 
  • Innovative Fare Policies: Implementing fair caps to increase affordability and patronage, demonstrating a proactive approach to encourage public transport use. 


“To you, what is a Smart City?”

Nick Fairclough: “I think a smart city is one that works closely with the people who live there and work there. One in which people have access to high quality services, including transport, uh, on, on one that, that sees itself, but having a role locally, but also a role globally. And that's, uh, I suppose part of the reason why it's such a pleasure to be here today, um, part of a, a a global group of cities coming and talking about what we can do better and what we're already doing. So yeah, I think that's a smart city for me.”



  • Cooperation is essential when developing an integrated transport system

"We work very closely with the 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester. [...] And what we've been tasked to do by the mayor, by the leaders of Greater Manchester is to develop that London style integrated transport system that I think everyone sees as being the right way to go in the future. And so lots of people are working very hard to that end at the moment. And we're working with partners in the government, with operators, and with local stakeholders as well to make sure we get there. [...]

We're working with residents to do that, we're working with businesses as well, to make sure that the services we provide fit their needs, but also because we know there's an awful lot of experience and knowledge and expertise that we can draw on as we build that system." - Nick Fairclough 

  • Creating a supportive environment for active travel is crucial

"Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw an increase in people using active travel, walking, wheeling, cycling to get around Greater Manchester. And that's something that we've wanted to build on. So we've got some really ambitious plans to develop our active travel network. And we want to see it become an integrated part of that wider transport system, as integrated as buses, as trains, as any other elements, because fundamentally that's how people are going to get to and from bus stops, railway stations, et cetera. [...]

We know that at the moment, many people don't feel that they're able to safely cycle or scoot or even walk to be honest to their destination, even when the journey is relatively short. So [we want to] help people to feel safe, both in terms of reducing antisocial behavior, but also making sure that the highway and the the infrastructure that's in place supports people to get to their destination in a way that they feel safe about." - Nick Fairclough

  • Integration in transportation is about giving people a choice

"I think we want to make it as easy as possible for people to get around. And with that, we want them to be able to access opportunities, meet friends, tackle social exclusion, and do all the normal everyday things that we rely on a transport network to enable. It's not transport for transport's sake, but it's about what can transport enable. [...]

The Bee Network certainly isn't about being anti-car, or anything like that, but it's about giving people a choice, I think. And we know that building a better public transport network is good for everyone because it improves air quality, it reduces carbon emissions. It even reduces congestion as well. So for those people who aren't able to take public transport for their journey, for whatever reason, there are are advantages there too. Through integration, we hope that there are opportunities for things like park and rides or, or even park and strides, which is where you park your car and then walk the remainder of your journeys." - Nick Fairclough

  • Making the transportation network more attractive would create a positive cycle

"I think integration at the moment, or the lack thereof is a big gap. I think there are other elements as well that we will want to improve over time. So I think at the moment that a frequency of service is something that's lacking. And I think, unfortunately we've been in a position where patronages dropped because services aren't that easy to use. That means that they're not as financially viable as they would've been, which means that operators necessarily have to remove services, which then makes the offer yet more unattractive. And so fewer people use it. And so it's a downward spiral, unfortunately. But I hope that, that by delivering this more attractive, more integrated network, we can get to a position where the spiral goes in the other direction, where suddenly you have a network that's attracting more people, that is more commercially viable, which then means we can invest in more services and help to make them more attractive and bring more people onto the network."' - Nick Fairclough