The Transport Act 2000, as amended by the Local Transport Act 2008, has provided a new policy framework benefiting all local transport authorities. The framework gives greater certainty of funding, while encouraging more strategic transport planning with local consultation, and increasing local flexibility and discretion over resources. It was accompanied by a significant increase in capital funding: support from my Department for transport investment in the City of Manchester, within which transport authority the Gorton constituency falls, has more than doubled over the last decade.
Investment in Greater Manchester's Joint Local Transport Plan, to which Manchester city council is a partner authority, has delivered a number of improvements to the quality, safety and accessibility of the local transport network. Between 2004 and 2008, bus patronage per head of population increased by 7 per cent. and the number of people killed or seriously injured on the local highway network decreased by 28 per cent. in the period 2001-07.
In May 2004, Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) launched the Local Link flexible transport service in Gorton, Beswick and Openshaw, following a successful bid for £788,400 to the Department's Urban Bus Challenge fund. Local Link is a fully accessible demand-responsive bus service which provides access to health, education, retail and leisure facilities throughout the area seven days a week. In August 2004, an additional vehicle was allocated to the service due to exceptionally high demand.
It was announced in July 2006 that the Department had approved Greater Manchester ITA's major scheme business case for the £575 million Manchester Metrolink Phase 3a expansion. The project will expand the existing Metrolink network to Droylsden, Rochdale and Chorlton. The 3.9 mile extension to Droylsden will provide high quality public transport links between areas of deprivation in East Manchester and the major employment and leisure sites at Manchester Piccadilly and the City of Manchester Stadium. It is anticipated that construction of the Droylsden extension will be completed in spring 2012.
In 2009, the Greater Manchester ITA submitted a successful bid to the Department's Green Bus Fund. The £3.1 million award will support the purchase of 66 low carbon vehicles, including a fleet of 20 diesel-electric hybrid buses to operate Metroshuttle services in Manchester City Centre, 16 hybrid Yellow School Buses, and 30 hybrid single deck vehicles for use on subsidised services in the city.