Best Practice in Manchester

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is committed to improving air quality in Greater Manchester.

On behalf of the GMCA, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has developed the Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy and Greater Manchester Air Quality Action Plan, focusing on ways to tackle harmful emissions from road transport to improve air quality and help in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

These complement the Greater Manchester Climate Change and Low Emissions Implementation Plan, which focuses on making the most of the region’s energy and resources through reducing its carbon footprint.

Oxford Road corridor

As a key route into Manchester city centre and one of Europe’s busiest bus corridors, Oxford Road has undergone major transformation.

The significant redevelopment project focused on reshaping Oxford Road into a pedestrian-friendly environment, favouring buses, hackney carriages, bicycles and emergency vehicles.

One of the key benefits of the project is the improvement of air quality along the Oxford Road corridor. This is as a result of the reduction of general traffic and a collaborative effort between TfGM and bus operators to improve the emission standards of buses using this route.

Clean Air for Schools

In 2017, TfGM won a National Clean Air Award for Local Authority Air Quality Initiative of the Year. The ‘Clean Air for Schools’ programme targeted the tailpipe emissions from 41 of TfGM’s fleet of 93 Yellow School Buses, delivering significant environmental benefits and reducing children’s exposure to harmful air pollutants.

Funded through the Department for Transport’s (DFT’s) Clean Bus Technology Fund, the programme involved the retro-fitting of innovative air pollution control equipment to diesel Yellow School Buses.

Emission tests were carried out on buses before the pollution control systems were fitted and again after they had been on the road for at least a year.

The results showed a 99% reduction in nitrogen oxide levels – far higher than the 50% minimum target set by the DfT – with a 93% reduction in particulates (soot and dust particles), 99% in hydrocarbons and more than 97% in carbon monoxide.


Improvements have been made to cycling infrastructure, making it easier and more attractive for cyclists to travel across Greater Manchester. Working with local authorities, TfGM has developed a 45 km network of six cycleways, funded by the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Grant. In many cases, the cycle routes are ‘segregated’, so cyclists have their own separate lane, as well as routes that run directly behind some bus stops, allowing riders to pass buses without overtaking them.

Other improvements funded by the £20 million first phase of the DfT Cycle City programme include cycling facilities and training at 11 schools and colleges as part of the Cycle Schools and Colleges programme, cycle parking and facilities at transport interchanges, railway stations, Metrolink stops, workplaces, and social housing sites, as well as training and support for people who would like to cycle more or who are new to cycling.

The second phase of the Cycle City programme involves a further £22 million investment in additional new and improved cycle routes, five new cycle-friendly district centres, further improvements to cycle parking and continued cycle training and support. It also involves ten new schools joining the Cycle Schools and Colleges programme.


Metroshuttle is a free Manchester city centre bus service linking all the city’s main railway stations, car park, various bus and Metrolink tram stops and key shopping and employment districts.

With three key routes to choose from, the Metroshuttle is an easy-to-use service and three of the buses are fully electric, with the remainder diesel-electric hybrid.

Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle (GMEV) scheme

The Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle (GMEV) scheme is a programme led by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) dedicated to creating a simple electric vehicle charge point network and the promotion of sustainable car travel across Greater Manchester. The scheme provides more than 200 charging bays that can charge a typical electric vehicle (32 amp capability) in around three to four hours.

Electric vehicles produce no air pollutants at street level and up to 40% less CO2 emissions as a whole compared to similar-sized petrol or diesel vehicles.


Metrolink is the UK’s largest tram network. It boasts 60 miles of track, with 120 trams serving 93 stops at key destinations across Greater Manchester, and caters for more than 37 million passenger journeys a year.
Trams are a sustainable method of travel that encourages cleaner, greener and healthier towns and cities, emitting no air pollution at street level. With priority over traffic junctions, trams encourage people to leave their vehicles at home to ease congestion on local roads.


Greater Manchester has reaffirmed its commitment to tackling air pollution by becoming the UK’s first member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN Environment-led ‘BreatheLife’ cities network – with a pledge to meeting strict WHO air quality targets.

BreatheLife membership gives TfGM and local authorities within the Greater Manchester Combined Authority access to technical advice and resources, plus the chance to share best practice with other BreatheLife cities, supporting their ongoing work to improve air quality.

As a member of the BreatheLife network, Greater Manchester has pledged to achieve WHO’s air guideline for fine particulates by 2030. In achieving this target, the health of residents in communities across the Greater Manchester will be improved.