Bike ban maintained: future tram adaptations not ruled out
The last two years have seen much activity on the issue of getting bikes onto Metrolink trams. GMCC has consistently lobbied for integrated transport and transparent decision making. Steve Bowater sums up campaign milestones 2009-2011.
From Pothole Spring 2011
In 2009 GMCC discovered that the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) had commissioned a report by transport consultants Mott MacDonald into the “Implications of the Carriage of Bicycles on Trams”. This report confirmed that:
“from the information obtained from systems where cycles are permitted on trams, none have reported any safety issues or referred to any claims resulting from bicycle carriage”
An important finding given that safety was always the primary reason for banning bikes.
The GMPTE submitted their summary of the report to the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority’s (GMITA’s) Policy & Resources committee in January 2010, however, their report reiterated the dangers of cycle carriage (contrary to their consultants’ findings), and recommended the ban on cycle carriage be maintained.
Additionally, despite several Freedom of Information Requests, the GMPTE refused to release their consultants’ report until after the decision to maintain the ban was narrowly carried.
This decision then went to the GMITA’s Full Committee in February 2010, but after some urgent campaigning, Councillors severely rebuked GMPTE officers for both withholding information that confirmed cycle carriage was not dangerous and for failing to reply to Freedom of Information requests. This resulted in the setting up of a working group to review cycle carriage on Metrolink.
This final review included a third survey of passengers by the GMPTE, and despite the questionnaire highlighting all the perceived negatives about cycle carriage, encouragingly the majority of passengers still supported carriage, including non-cycling and disabled passengers, giving us a clear public mandate.
Disappointingly in November 2010 the GMITA working group reaffirmed the decision to maintain the ban, with cost being the main factor along with off-peak passenger levels, although with the original trams due for refurbishment, they did also recommend that “the continued ban should not preclude any future adaptations when trams are due for their imminent mid-life refurbishment in case the policy is revised”.
However, when the final GMPTE report on this decision that was put to the GMITA’s Policy and Resources Committee this important recommendation was “mysteriously” missing, and we had to request Committee members reinstate their working group’s recommendation, thereby keeping the possibility of cycle carriage alive.
Additionally, the possible future introduction of Tram-Trains (i.e. using trams on existing heavy rail lines) in the region is also being reviewed following trials in Sheffield, which could see further lines lose access to carry bikes if the ban is not overturned.
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