Greater Manchester has secured over £120m in government funding to support local businesses upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles so they can travel in a GM-wide Clean Air Zone without incurring a daily charge.
A new Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy, to be published in July, will also set out ambitious plans so that by 2030 anyone chooses to travel by car or van will be able to confidently drive an EV knowing that they can recharge it quickly and conveniently across the region.
Greater Manchester has also secured funding for over 30 taxi-only electric vehicle (EV) charging points at strategic sites across the city-region.
There are currently around 360 publicly accessible EV charging devices in Greater Manchester with around 700 connectors.
The city region also announced that bike-share company, Beryl, has been selected as the delivery partner to design, install and operate a 24/7, public cycle hire scheme made up of an initial 1,500 bikes and e-bikes at over 200 new cycle hire docking stations across Manchester, Trafford and Salford.
In light of feedback following last year’s eight-week consultation on the plans and the impact of COVID-19, particularly on small businesses, GM-registered taxi/private hire owners and LGV owners will be given more time, money and options to upgrade their vehicles.
This includes temporary exemptions for an additional year (until 31 May 2023) for all hackney and private hire vehicles (PHV) licensed by a GM District. Vans, minibuses, GM-registered coaches and wheelchair-accessible taxis were already exempt from daily charges until 2023.
Following consultation and protracted negotiations with government, GM has increased funding support per vehicle for HGVs, coaches, vans, GM Hackney cabs and PHVs. Vans can now access up to £4.5k towards the replacement of a vehicle – £1k more than initially proposed – and GM Hackney Cabs can get up to £10k. HGVs can now get up to £12k towards replacement, nearly three times more than was initially offered, and coaches are now eligible for £32k.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester were the pioneers of the industrial revolution, now we are leading a green revolution, backed with over £120 million that we’ve secured to hand over to businesses to support making their vehicles compliant.
“We listened hard to what business owners wanted and, as a result, taxi drivers are being given more time, more funding and more options. This is part of our wider commitment to put GM-licensed hackney and private hire drivers first, and to lobby government to give us the powers to ensure that only locally licensed drivers are able to operate here.
“This plan will also have major health and wellbeing benefits for people living near motorways or major roads as there will be less polluting vehicles and HGVs using them.
“Our Clean Air Zone is only one piece of the jigsaw. We’re also fully integrating our public transport system – the Bee Network – and building the UK’s largest cycling and walking network. Our cycle hire will be one of the largest docked systems outside London and I cannot wait to use the new bikes myself as a way to get from A to B. We’re making huge strides towards our plans to build back greener and be carbon neutral by 2038.”
Greater Manchester lead for Clean Air, Councillor Andrew Western, said: “We want Greater Manchester to be a healthy, sustainable and happy place to grow up, get on and get old and we can’t afford to be complacent about this globally significant issue.”
Greater Manchester’s Transport Commissioner, Chris Boardman, added: “Today is a major milestone for the city-region – not only do we have a solid plan to make vehicles on our roads cleaner, we’ll soon be bringing cycle hire to our streets – providing a healthy, convenient, non-polluting transport option for tens of thousands of people. Together with our plans for hundreds of miles of cycling and walking routes by 2024, we are building a truly world-leading sustainable transport system.”
Beryl CEO, Philip Ellis, who also operates cycle hire schemes in Watford, Hereford, Bournemouth and Norwich, said: “Greater Manchester has fantastic ambition when it comes to green transport and we’re excited to be bringing our experience in delivering world-class cycle hire. There is huge appetite for this scheme and we can’t wait to see people on our bikes and e-bikes later this year.
Image: Transport for Greater Manchester Press Office