• £3m investment emphasises the key role of the private sector ahead of devolution
• New site and £12m hybrid electric bus fleet expected to cut 6,000 car trips a month
• Bus minister Andrew Jones welcomes Stagecoach initiative
• Region to benefit from smart multi-operator bus ticketing in months
Stagecoach Manchester has today (Wednesday 1st July) opened Britain’s first privately-funded bus Park & Ride in Hazel Grove, Stockport, which is also the first facility of its kind in Greater Manchester.
The £3m investment reaffirms the key role the private sector play in maximising the transport and economic benefits for Greater Manchester ahead of devolution.
The new 400-space Park & Ride facility, which has a cycle parking space part-funded through Transport for Greater Manchester, will be served by a £12m fleet of 40 hybrid electric buses equipped with free Wi-Fi.
Located on a stretch of the heavily-congested A6, the facility links Stockport and central Manchester and is expected to help remove 6,000 car journeys per month from the region’s roads.
Following its departure from Hazel Grove, the service stops at Stepping Hill, Heaviley, Stockport, Heaton Chapel, Levenshulme, Longsight, Ardwick before completing the journey in Manchester city centre.
Stagecoach Manchester managing director, Christopher Bowles, said: “This substantial investment by Stagecoach in Greater Manchester’s first bus Park & Ride facility demonstrates our commitment to provide affordable and accessible transport for the region.
“The £12m fleet of hybrid electric vehicles (part funded by the DfT in 2013) which will serve the Hazel Grove Park & Ride, will enable our customers to benefit from the latest green technology the industry has to offer while they travel to and from one of the most exciting cities in the UK.
“In the long term, this Park & Ride will also relieve the region’s roads of an estimated 6,000 cars per month, helping us to significantly reduce the level of carbon emissions in the local area.”
Greater Manchester is also set to benefit within months from multi-operator smart ticketing as part of a pledge by the country’s major public transport groups.
Stagecoach Group chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “We are fully behind plans to make Greater Manchester a real economic powerhouse of the north. Transport is central to making that happen and the bus is the most important and accessible form of public transport.
“This ground-breaking investment in the country’s first privately-funded bus Park & Ride initiative demonstrates the importance of the private sector in making the government’s devolution plans and Greater Manchester’s aspirations a reality.
“We have a shared responsibility to get the most from the nation’s bus network. It connects people with work, health and education, and is crucial to the economic health of the high street. With continued austerity and stretched public funding, the private sector more than ever has to be part of the solution.”
Developed in association with Manchester-based transport consultants SCP, the Park & Ride facility has been built on former wasteland at the junction of Buxton Road and Macclesfield Road. The supervised facility includes toilets and a covered waiting area.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TfGMC) said: “I congratulate Stagecoach Manchester on the completion of its long-term aspiration to open a Park and Ride at Hazel Grove. It will complement the previous investment we have made to improve passenger journeys along the A6.
“I’m particularly pleased to see the new cycle parking facilities incorporated and hope that it will encourage more people to consider cycling for part of their journey. Linking different modes of travel together like this helps to build an integrated transport network which will make it easier for people to travel into and around Greater Manchester.”
Bus minister, Andrew Jones said: “I applaud Stagecoach Manchester for investing in this bus Park & Ride scheme which will make it easier for people travelling to Manchester to get to work, do their shopping and visit friends and family.
“This facility will link communities and the cleaner, greener buses will also help improve air quality by reducing traffic congestion in surrounding areas, and encouraging people to take public transport rather than driving their cars into town centres.”
Since 1996, the number of high frequency bus services operated by Stagecoach Manchester has doubled, with the company investing an average of £5m a year in new buses alone for the region. Manchester has the greenest bus fleet of any major city in the UK outside London, with Stagecoach Manchester alone operating 128 hybrid electric vehicles.
Stagecoach Manchester provides weekly unlimited bus travel for £13.50. It also offers the UK’s first nationwide discounted bus travel initiative for jobseekers, providing half-price travel to help them find employment. The scheme is funded commercially without any public sector support.
Alongside the Park & Ride launch, Stagecoach Manchester is also joining forces with sustainable transport group Greener Journeys to promote the benefits of bus use through the third annual ‘Catch the Bus Week’.
The campaign, which takes place from 29th June – 5th July, aims to drive awareness of the benefits of taking the bus and encourage local people to make the switch from the car that week.