Politicians and transport bosses have expressed delight at news the guided busway has smashed its predicted journey numbers.
More than two million trips have been made on the route between Leigh and Manchester city centre in its first year of operation, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has revealed.
The busway’s fiercest critics would have to concede that it has not turned into the ‘white elephant’ that some predictedAndy Burnham
The total far surpasses the 800,000 or so journeys that were expected to be made on the busway during its first 12 months.
Leigh MP Andy Burnham, who defended the busway against considerable residents’ opposition during its construction, led the chorus of praise.
Writing in his column in our sister paper the Leigh Observer, Mr Burnham said: “Even the busway’s fiercest critics would have to concede that it has not turned into the ‘white elephant’ that some predicted.
“It is proving a popular option for many people and, judging by the number of cars at the car parks in Leigh and Tyldesley, has even persuaded some commuters to change their habits.”
However, Mr Burnham also stressed in his column that more improvements to public transport were still needed in Leigh.
He said: “I remain of the view that the Leigh area will only have a full transport solution for the 21st century when the Leigh Guided Busway is able to connect with a new rail service for the Leigh area.
“The big opportunity is HS3. An organisation called Transport for the North is currently developing a plan for a new west-east rail line linking the big cities of the North. It is thought that the preferred route for HS3 will be to piggyback HS2 as it crosses through our area.
“If that is the final plan, there is an extremely strong case for creating a new ‘parkway’ station on the East Lancs.”
The visitor numbers also provided a major boost to the local authorities, including Wigan Council, and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) which oversaw the infrastructure project.
The guided busway connects Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley to the city centre, running on special concrete tracks as far as Ellenbrook before completing the journey in priority bus lanes along the East Lancs Road.