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Manchester seeks congestion solution

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MANCHESTER TRANSPORT bosses will select consultants to develop the city's congestion charge plans next week after councillors agreed to consider distance-based schemes.

Up to ve bids will be considered by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) on Wednesday, which will look to appoint its consultant straight away.

GMPTE will ght Birmingham transport executive Centro for the bulk of the £1bn Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) cash available next year, with congestion charge schemes at the heart of both bids due in July (NCE 28 September 2006).

Manchester's bid looks likely to focus on a distance-based scheme using global positioning satellite (GPS) technology.

Plans drawn up by the Greater Manchester Joint Transport Team (GMJTT) were approved by Greater Manchester council leaders on Friday 26 January.

With a distance-based scheme, GPS technology will mean that the further you travel the more you pay, ' said GMJTT team leader Roy Newton, speaking at ICE North West President's Forum on Sustainability last Friday.

Manchester's scheme will focus on the city centre.

But Newton's team has ruled out copying London's blanket area charge, as the administration cost of £3 per transaction was deemed too high.

Council leaders have insisted that Manchester's congestion charge would only be applied if public transport improves and the TIF bid includes £460M for the second phase of its Metrolink tram extension.

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