Tram at Deansgate

12 Days of Manchester: Nine is the number of Metrolink stops in the City Zone

  • Is Manchester's transport network any good?
  • Part of a series on Manchester's culture to keep you entertained over the break

Manchester is set to change its Metrolink system so that it has a London-style zonal method of pricing tickets.

Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on where you live and how much you use the tram.

However the City Zone (to become Zone 1 in the new scheme) is tiny compared to he size of London’s inner zones and most stops are within quite short walking distance from one another. Were it not for buildings being in the way you could see each stop from the city centre.

The stops are Deansgate-Castlefield, St Peter’s Square, Piccadilly Gardens, Piccadilly, New Islington, Market Street, Exchange Square, Shudehill and Victoria.

St Peter's Square
The tram stop at St Peter’s Square. Credit: Gerald England

The furthest stops from each other in the City Zone are New Islington and Deansgate which are only 1.5 miles from each other, a mere half an hour walk. While it is a good idea to go that distance, the proximity of the remaining stops in the city centre are so close, it is not worth getting the tram.

My point here is that having the City Zone currently makes sense because you can get a ticket to it and then travel to whichever stop you please. Introducing it as zone 1 and then bringing up the prices from anywhere else suggests that you could just use it to travel around the city centre, which is not particularly worthwhile and it seems fairer to charge people less to travel between two specific destinations, if they don’t need to stop in the centre, than it does to charge them to use the city centre stops when they don’t want to.

The new system could be pretty bad for anyone trying to get to the airport that does not live on the route. The airport is in zone 4 (the highest it goes up to) so travel will already be expensive to get there. This is particularly bad for people who live along the East Didsbury line who, despite being geographically quite close to the airport, will have to travel into zone 2 to get back out to the airport, increasing their fare.

New Islington station
New Islington is the furthest stop in the City Zone. Credit: Rept0n1x

But that’s not to say the nine tram stops don’t need to be there. Each is close to an important destination.

Deansgate-Castlefield services Deansgate train station as well as the Deansgate Locks where there are a number of bars and the Great Northern entertainment complex, including the Odeon cinema. It’s also quite close to HOME.

St Peter’s Square is just outside the Central Library, which is worth visiting just for the scale of the building alone. Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens are already well known hubs of commerce and so is Exchange Square which services the Arndale centre.

Piccadilly and Victoria obviously service their respective train stations and Shudehill is a bus interchange that runs services to the north of the city. New Islington is an area being developed into new apartments, businesses and shops and is also within walking distance of the Etihad stadium if you don’t want to pay the extra fare to get there.

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