Devolution will enable the transfer of certain powers and responsibilities from national government to different regions, including Greater Manchester. Decisions made locally can better meet the needs and aspirations of the people who live and work in the area and the concept of devolving powers is supported by all the local authorities in Greater Manchester.

In November 2014 Greater Manchester leaders and central government (represented by HM Treasury) signed the Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement. This devolution package – including the further deals agreed since then – represents the largest shift of power from Whitehall to a local area in a generation. It increases the resources available to Greater Manchester, both through additional funding and by providing greater influence over national and other programmes, with the aim of driving economic growth and reform to public services.

In terms of transport, devolution involves the transfer of various powers from central government to Greater Manchester – specifically: 

  • Consideration of how local rail stations are managed 
  • Partnership working with Highways England to enable a clear, strategic approach to the management of highways across the city-region
  • A devolved and consolidated transport budget for Greater Manchester
  • The development of pan-Northern organisations such as Rail North and Transport for the North
  • Transferring powers from a local authority level up to a city-region level – specifically, oversight and management of the Key Route Network (KRN) and increased collaboration on highways service delivery.
  • Regulatory reform – specifically, the introduction of the Bus Services Bill. 

In simple terms, transport devolution is about giving Greater Manchester the tools to create a truly integrated transport network for the benefit of everyone travelling in the city-region.

Explore the links in the sidebar to find out more.

  • Why is transport so important?
  • Devolution and the GMCA
  • Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040
  • The future of bus services​
  • The future of rail stations
  • Managing the highways

Why is transport so important?

Both the population and the economy of Greater Manchester are growing – with the number of people living in the city-region set to exceed three million by 2040 and around 350,000additional jobs forecast at the same time. This means that by 2040 there will be a further 800,000 daily trips on our transport network every day.

A growing economy needs effective transport, providing people with real choice.

For Greater Manchester’s economy and communities to flourish and prosper, we need to connect people with opportunities and information, entrepreneurs with ideas and capital, and employers with talent and skills. Excellent transport connectivity can also act as a catalyst for new development and regeneration: transforming and revitalising old sites with new productive uses.

More growth and activity means we need more people to use public transport and active travel modes for more of their journeys. Otherwise congestion will increasingly limit growth and opportunities for residents and businesses.

The future of bus services

Buses are vital to Greater Manchester’s economy and society. Of the 267 million public transport journeys (across bus, rail and tram) in Greater Manchester in 2015, 79 per cent were by bus.

But, despite significant ongoing subsidy and capital support for bus, and despite more and more people travelling, bus patronage across Greater Manchester has broadly stayed flat. We want to deliver a better solution for customers and the city-region.

Through the introduction of the Bus Services Bill, mayoral combined authorities, such as Greater Manchester, will have the choice to franchise bus services. In Greater Manchester this means that an elected mayor could choose to exercise powers to franchise bus services following a public consultation.

The current bus system, by its nature, prevents bus services being joined up and coordinated with each other, as well as with other modes of transport such as rail and Metrolink. The number and variety of tickets in Greater Manchester is unduly complicated and passengers have to pay more for a ticket that works across more than one bus operator’s network.

We are currently examining the benefits of different options for the reform of the bus market in Greater Manchester, including a franchise model and other options to ensure that bus fully achieves its potential at the heart of Greater Manchester’s public transport system.

The future of rail stations

Travel by rail in Greater Manchester is growing – rail passenger journeys have risen by 21 per cent in the past eight years. However, partners across the industry agree that there is an opportunity to deliver better value from Greater Manchester’s stations, putting rail stations at the heart of the community and maximising their role within an integrated transport network.

The Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement presents the opportunity for TfGM to explore greater devolution and management of rail stations across the city-region. This requires a step change in the current management set-up, which has historically lacked strategic oversight and tailored investment.

We will build the case for taking increased responsibility for investment in rail stations in Greater Manchester, as well as their management and operation.

This will be driven by improved asset management, a focus on local investment and a better understanding of customers and their communities, based on robust evidence which will be regularly reviewed to ensure it is delivering effectively.

Managing the highways

Greater Manchester’s roads are the arteries of the region’s economy. It is essential that the network functions effectively with minimum delays and congestion, to support the economic growth of our region.

The busiest of Greater Manchester’s roads make up just seven percent of the total length, but carry two-thirds of peak-time traffic. 

Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities are responsible for the roads in their area butpreviously, there has been no central, strategic oversight for management of roads across boundaries.

As part of devolution, these roads have been brought together into a single Key Route Network (KRN), spanning all of the Greater Manchester local authority areas and totalling over 600 kilometres.

We have strategic management responsibilities for the KRN across all 10 Greater Manchester local authority districts, working in partnership with the Greater Manchester local authorities and Highways England. This will allow us to monitor performance and report more consistently across the network and helps us to develop policies that support strategic traffic movements.

The efficient movement of traffic on the KRN is essential for commuting and logistics. Greater coordination supports investment and growth across the whole of Greater Manchester. With strategic oversight of the KRN, the performance and investment in these vital roads can be maximised over the long term. Ultimately, this will help to reduce delays and congestion, to benefit all road users. 

In addition, we will also be investigating, with local authorities, the feasibility and options for consolidating further aspects of asset management across our road network with a view to delivering improved resilience and value for money for Greater Manchester taxpayers, and ensure that maintenance and renewal takes place in a strategic and coordinated way across the region. 

Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040

To enable Greater Manchester to create the integrated, customer-focused and well-utilised transport system it needs; we will take advantage of the wider devolution agenda to secure greater powers to control and plan investment over the long-term.

In this context, the 2040 Vision for Transport, which was consulted on in 2015, set the scene for the start of a radical, and ambitious, new approach to planning Greater Manchester’s transport system in support of long-term needs and aspirations. The 2040 Transport Strategy builds on the Vision, giving the right framework to face up to the challenges of the next 25 years. There was a public consultation on the draft 2040 Strategy in summer 2016.

Ultimately, the aim is to offer flexible and customer-focused travel choices, supported by smart information, ticketing and payment systems, across a truly integrated, multi-modal transport network.

And, of course, transport is about more than moving people and goods around a network; it shapes people’s lives. Our customers – residents, business and visitors – sit at the heart of the Strategy. It also focuses on the critical long-term challenges we are facing in Greater Manchester, such as a rapidly growing and ageing population, climate change and the need to improve productivity and reduce social inequality in our city-region.

The full 2040 Strategy will be published later this year, once responses from the public consultation have been considered. The Strategy, along with more detailed 5-year Transport Delivery Plans, will form our new statutory Greater Manchester Local Transport Plan. Find out more here.