Peak time restrictions on concessionary tram and bus passes will be lifted during the early morning rush hour from tomorrow (Friday 20 March) to make it easier for the region’s older citizens and disabled people to get their shopping.
While unnecessary travel is being discouraged, the decision has been taken after leading supermarkets announced they will open early, or set aside the first hour of business exclusively for older customers and those most vulnerable to Covid-19.
Concessionary pass holders normally pay full adult fare to travel before 9.30am, during the early morning rush hour.
The Government is advising against non-essential use of public transport and for people to vary travel times to avoid rush hour.
Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, said: “We encourage everybody to keep travel on public transport to a minimum and to only make essential journeys. That said, we recognise that some older and disabled people, who are not yet self-isolated, may need to travel earlier than usual to get to the shops or to attend a medical appointment. For that reason, we have decided to lift these restrictions to help older and disabled people get the essential supplies and support they need.
“I’d like to thank TfGM and transport operators for working together quickly to make this possible. But I do stress that anyone who is thinking of travelling on public transport should only make their journey if absolutely necessary – and help keep vulnerable passengers safe.
“Where you need to travel, please do so outside usual peak travel hours where possible. This will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and reduce pressure on our essential services in the days and weeks to come.”
Professor Kate Ardern, Greater Manchester Director for Public Health, added: “The country is now in the ‘delay’ phase of our UK plan to tackle COVID-19. That means we are taking measures to try to delay the spread of this virus across the community.
“As part of these measures, we are urging everyone to follow Government advice and avoid all unnecessary travel at this time.”
Systems, including ticket validators on Metrolink stops, are now being updated to reflect the new concessionary pass travel hours, which come into effect on Friday 20 March. Customers should note that some machines may not be updated until Monday, but this does not affect their travel before 9.30am.
With fewer journeys being made on public transport, and fewer staff and drivers available, bus, rail and tram services will start to be reduced over the coming days.
From 22 March buses and other public transport services will be subject to more frequent changes. This may include services operating at a reduced frequency.
Metrolink passengers with 28 day and annual travelcards are being offered refunds on the number of days left remaining on their tickets, as long as there is a minimum of 7 days remaining.