as part of council’s new transport strategy
Calls have been made for cars to be banned from the city centre as part of Manchester council’s plans to change the way people travel.
The suggestion was one of several put forward by members of public as part of a consultation on a new transport strategy for the city.
Manchester council wants 90 per cent of all trips to the city centre to be made on foot, by bike or using public transport by 2040.
To meet their ambitions the town hall is looking at several proposals including reducing the number of buses idling in Piccadilly Gardens, permanently pedestrianising areas like Deansgate, and creating a cycling ‘triangle’.
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Building a Metrolink tunnel beneath the city centre is an idea that could be revisited, while an Ultra Low Emission Zone – where polluting vehicles need to pay a daily charge to travel through specific areas – and 20mph limits are also being considered.
The strategy, which is being developed alongside Salford council and Transport for Greater Manchester, went out to consultation at the end of last year.
Nearly 2,500 people, groups, political parties and transport operators took part, with the majority expressing support for the strategy.
But almost a quarter of respondents were not supportive of how the council wanted to manage traffic in the city centre, the highest negative response received.
Some argued that the plans did not go far enough and said all cars should be banned from the city centre, and that all car parks should be removed.
Manchester council is already predicting that around 12,500 of the 30,000 parking spaces in the city centre will be lost in the coming years due to redevelopment.
But consultees raised concerns about the impact removing car parks would have on disabled people who depend on private vehicles to get around, and businesses which rely on deliveries.
Manchester City Council Cllr Angeliki Stogia at the pedestrian and cycle zone in Deansgate
Councillor Angeliki Stogia, executive member for transport at Manchester council, has described the challenge of satisfying both sides as a ‘difficult’ one.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s executive on February 19, Coun Stogia said: “We acknowledge the strength of feeling on both sides, I don’t want to be gaslighting either side and dismiss what people feel.
“What I want is to work with everyone to bring forward projects that bridge the gap and will get us to a place where we give people viable options to get in and out and move around the city, while we continue to reduce private vehicle journeys and car parks to manage traffic in the city centre.”
There was a high level of support for schemes focused on making walking and public transport the main modes of travelling in the city centre, Coun Stogia said.
Many respondents asked the council to make more parts of the city centre car-free, something which some local councillors are also calling for.
But in December, Manchester council was accused by Diamond Bus of ‘unlawfully’ pedestrianising part of Deansgate without proper consultation.
The matter nearly ended up in High Court before the council agreed to pay the company £42,000 in legal costs, while also partially reopening Deansgate to buses.
Diamond was one of several bus operators to respond to the city transport strategy consultation raising concerns about plans to reduce the number of buses at the Parker Street interchange at Piccadilly Gardens, and to close the Oldham Street loop.
A final version of the city centre transport strategy will go before Manchester council’s executive on March 17 before being submitted to the Greater Manchester combined authority for approval on March 26.