Leigh-Salford-Manchester Bus Rapid Transit
The busway under construction east of Hough Lane, Tyldesley in January 2014
|Location||Wigan, Salford and Manchester|
|Proposer||Transport for Greater Manchester|
The Leigh-Salford-Manchester Bus Rapid Transit scheme is a project for rapid bus services in Greater Manchester, England to provide improved transport connections between Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley, Ellenbrook and across Manchester city centre via Salford. The bus rapid transit scheme is promoted by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and scheduled for completion in 2015. A limited-stop bus service will run along a 7 km section of guided busway between Leigh and Ellenbrook, 6 km of reserved buslanes alongside the East Lancashire Road, and reserved bus lanes through Manchester and Salford city centres and along Oxford Road.
The Leigh-Salford-Manchester busway was proposed to improve access to Manchester city centre from Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley and Ellenbrook and regenerate areas of the former Lancashire Coalfield. A public inquiry was held in 2002 and the decision delayed because of great crested newts occupying a site on the route. The Department for Transport granted powers to build the busway in 2005 and it was projected to be built by 2009 but preliminary work only started in 2012.
After the scheme was considered at the public enquiry a feeder route from Atherton and an extension via Manchester city centre to Central Manchester Hospitals have been added to the project. The 22-kilometre route will operate on a combination of off-road guided busway, segregated bus lanes and conventional roads using low-emission double-decker buses fitted with guide-wheels. TfGM estimate the busway will generate more than 1.5 million passenger journeys per annum and cut journey times between Leigh and Manchester to less than 50 minutes, saving 30 minutes at peak periods.
The controversial proposal has encountered much local opposition. The busway has been branded the 'Misguided Busway' by a Salford councillor. Critics contest claims by TfGM that the creation of within-carriageway bus lanes will not reduce general traffic capacity along the East Lancashire Road, a heavily congested radial route for traffic heading towards Manchester and Salford city centres. Roadworks restricting traffic are scheduled to take approximately 12 months from May 2014.
Route and service
The BRT route will begin at Leigh bus station, and join a guided busway along the converted rail alignment through Tyldesley to Newearth Road in Ellenbrook. An improved bus route from Atherton will join the route at Tyldesley. From Ellenbrook the route will continue via bus lanes alongside the East Lancashire Road, serving Worsley and Swinton before joining the A6 road at Irlams o' th' Height; and will pass Salford University/Salford Crescent railway station in central Salford before continuing through Manchester city centre, and along bus-only lanes on Oxford Road to Manchester University and Central Manchester Hospitals.
The guided busway section will have seven stops, three in Leigh at East Bond Street, Holden Road and Higher Folds Estate, Tyldesley Interchange, Hough Lane and Sale Lane in Tyldesley and at Newearth Road in Ellenbrook. The full route from Leigh to Central Manchester Hospitals will have 27 stops and three stops along the connecting route from Tyldesley to Atherton. At least eight buses per hour will operate in each direction on the busway. Park and ride facilities will be provided at East Bond Street, Tyldesley and on the A580 road under the M60 motorway carriageway.
First Greater Manchester will run the services.
Estimated journey times are less than 50 minutes from Leigh and Atherton to Manchester city centre, and less than 60 minutes to Central Manchester Hospitals.
A long legal process preceded construction of the scheme, including a public inquiry in 2002. Powers to build the scheme are set out in the Greater Manchester (Leigh Busway) Order 2005 under the Transport and Works Act.
Site clearance for the dedicated busway section between Leigh and Ellenbrook took place between November 2012 and March 2013. Balfour Beatty began construction work in September 2013 and it is due to open in 2015.
Construction of the A580 Park and Ride scheme started in summer 2014 and will be completed in winter 2015.
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