On the same day that local authority staff, including engineers, go on strike over below inflation pay increases, the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTA) claimed workers at the lower end of the pay scale could benefit from a 20% discount on public transport and a 20% discount on the congestion charge itself if they chose to use their cars at peak times of the day.
Statistics suggest that 33% of households in Greater Manchester do not own a car, many of whom are low-paid, so improved public transport will be a huge benefit for them, the GMPTA claimed. It added that the congestion charge was likely to allow access to new employment opportunities across Greater Manchester.
"It is the lowest paid workers who are being hit the hardest by rising fuel and ever increasing costs of running cars," said Lord Peter Smith, Leader of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA).
"And it is they who most need new and improved public transport systems so that they can leave their cars at home and access their jobs efficiently."
The move has been welcomed by a number of diverse groups and individuals including Manchester Enterprises – the economic development agency for Greater Manchester and the Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, The Bishop of Hulme.
If approved following consultation, Manchester's £3bn TIF allocation would deliver new Metrolink lines to Ashton under Lyne, Manchester Airport and Oldham and Rochdale town centres. Funds have also been earmarked for a line through Trafford Park to the Trafford Centre.
The bus network would be overhauled with at least 90% of the population living within a 5 minute walk of a bus service running at least every 20 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes at evenings and weekends.
By the time the weekday, peak-time only charge is introduced in 2013 at least 80% of the improvements will be in place and the range, capacity and quality of Greater Manchester’s public transport network will have been transformed, making the system much more attractive to all - whatever their income.