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CASE STUDTY: Manchester

Next month over 60 public transport operators in Manchester will sign an unprecedented agreement to effectively stop competing with each other and instead work together to reduce car journeys into the city.

Witnessed by transport minister Gavin Strang, the ceremony will mark the start of the Greater Manchester Integration project - Britain's first city-wide trial to determine the effectiveness of real co-operation between bus, train, metro and council- commandeered taxis. By the end of this year the scheme should boast:

single price, multi-mode through ticketing

combined timetables

a one-stop information phone line

It should also have identified high frequency routes into the city on which operators will promise premium, reliable services.

As well as Manchester's Passenger Transport Executive, signatories will include Metrolink operator Altram, North West Trains; the city's 50 bus companies; 10 district councils and the Highways Agency.

Recognised as a considerable challenge, the year long first phase of the experiment concentrates on information-providing paperwork rather than physically altering bus or tram routes.

Metro and bus stops will display linked timetables with maps showing other nearby stops. An already trialled telephone inquiry service offering advice on mixed - mode journeys will be extended and supplemented by an Internet web site with journey planning features.

Further aids to the 'seamless journey' will include off peak multi-mode day tickets, although similar one price through ticketing for single journeys is not yet on the cards.

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