Greater Manchester is aiming to be the first region to deliver a carbon neutral transport network

"The benefits of a carbon neutral transport network are huge."

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 8th November 2021

Greater Manchester has set out a new ambition to become the first city-region to deliver a carbon neutral transport network.

The ambitious goal was announced this morning by Mayor Andy Burnham and Transport Commissioner Chris Boardman, ahead of travelling to the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.

Under the plans announced by the pair and published today on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) website, the city region’s bus fleet will be 50% electric by 2027 and 100% electric within a decade – a move that GMCA said would “singlehandedly reduce carbon emissions by 1.1 million tonnes”.

The Greater Manchester Ring and Ride fleet is also aiming to transition to zero emission technology by 2027.

The city’s tram network, the Metrolink, already runs on 100% renewable energy, and GMCA said funding has recently been secured to the develop the next stage of plans for expanding the network.


Since Greater Manchester launched its ambitious active travel vision in June 2018, around £70 million worth of schemes have been completed or are under construction, and to encourage more walking trips, GMCA and TfGM has also today published a report that shows strong evidence for zebra markings to be authorised for use on side roads to increase safety and the number of people walking to school, work, and the shops.

The city region is also introducing the UK’s largest Clean Air Zone outside of London covering almost 1,300km2 and coming into effect in May 2022.


The first fleet of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network cycle hire bikes – which will be one of the largest hire schemes outside London – will also be launched later this month, and will be carbon neutral. 

Speaking on the launch of the plans today, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is already leading the way in transport decarbonisation through our light rail network, the largest in the country, that runs on 100% renewable energy, [and] today we’re going one step further and setting out a new ambition to be the first UK city-region to deliver a carbon neutral transport network, including full electrification of our buses in the next decade.

“We’ve already started building the UK’s largest cycling and walking network, with £70 million worth of active travel schemes either completed or now under construction.


“This investment has helped enable thousands of people to change their daily lives, residents who’d previously not have considered walking or riding can now travel without cars for everyday trips in safety.

“The benefits of a carbon neutral transport network are huge [as] we’ll be boosting our health and improving air quality, and at the same time creating better places to live.

“We’re ahead of the curve on Metrolink, now we need to apply that carbon neutral aim to everything we do.”

Chris Boardman – Transport Commissioner for Greater Manchester added – added: “Full electrification of our buses, continued delivery of the UK’s largest active travel network and the introduction of the largest clean air zone outside London will be a massive boost to Greater Manchester’s green credentials.  

“I’m absolutely delighted that our world class active travel network is now taking shape. This year is a game changer for Greater Manchester – the plan is becoming a reality.


“Our spend per head on active travel in Greater Manchester is currently around £18 per year – that’s almost at the levels enjoyed in Denmark and The Netherlands – and I’m hugely proud of what we’ve delivered so far to make our city greener and healthier [so] today’s commitment for a carbon neutral transport network is proof yet again of our unwavering dedication to a 10-year mission of making the city-region one of the best places in the world to travel on public transport, on foot and by bike.”

“This is a scheme designed for and with the communities of Greater Manchester and it’s been great to get out on one of the bikes today for a test run to see exactly how they work,” Chris Boardman added.

The first fleet of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network cycle hire bikes will also be launched later this month / Credit: TfGM

“The new hire cycles will play a key role in the integrated transport network we are establishing in Greater Manchester and will not only help to tackle carbon emissions, they will also help to reduce congestion.

“We’ve taken the time to look at exactly how the scheme should work and have invested in ensuring the bikes and infrastructure are high quality and there are the resources available to manage it effectively on a day-to-day basis, delivering a great level of customer service.”

The public trial of the bike scheme begins on 18 November, when people will be able to access bikes along Oxford Road in Manchester city centre, at the University of Salford and at MediaCityUK. The trial and use of the bikes will be closely monitored and fed into the approach for the full scheme when it launches in June 2022. 


You can find out more about Greater Manchester’s plans for a carbon neutral transport network, and about how the Bee Bikes will work via the GMCA website here.

Featured Image – Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)