Metrolink launched its £1 ticket scheme today… but if you set your alarm for 7.30am, you missed it.

The cut-price Early Bird tickets will be available on weekdays only for a trial period ending on Christmas Eve. Beyond that, Greater Manchester transport chiefs will study how the pilot scheme worked before considering a permanent cheap ticket offer.

The scheme is aimed at encouraging early morning commuters to leave their cars at home and take the tram instead in a bid to ease Manchester’s chronic road traffic congestion.

It will also benefit seasonal, part-time and shift workers travelling early in the morning during the festive season

It is being trialled as part of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s Mayor’s Congestion Deal, which encourages people to try and change their travel behaviour to reduce congestion across the city-region.

“Congestion is a major problem that is affecting people’s lives on a daily basis,” he said.

“Additional trams and tram lines, improved cycling and walking infrastructure and the Manchester and Salford Inner Relief Route works will all help in the long run, but they will take time to bear fruit.

“The Early Bird is one of a range of measures being introduced to help improve things here and now and in advance of the busy festive period, making it easier for people to re-time their journey and avoid the traffic by trying the tram.”

The early bird catches the £1 tram fare in new Metrolink ticket trial I Love Manchester

The are two versions of the cut-price tickets:

*The Early Bird ticket, costing £1, gives passengers unlimited travel on all Metrolink tram services from the start of service (first trams leave Bury and Altrincham, for example, before 6am). Journeys must be completed before 7.30am.

*Early Bird Plus, costing £3, allows unlimited travel on all Metrolink tram services from start of service until 7.30am, plus unlimited travel between 1pm and 3.30pm and unlimited travel from 7pm until end of service. 

Both versions of the ticket are only available via Greater Manchester Transport’s “get me there” app and must be purchased before 7am on the day of travel.

The app is free and can be downloaded to smartphones via the App Store or Google Play.

A Metrolink spokesman said: “Passengers should remember to plan their journeys as they need to buy either ticket before 7am and travel must be completed by 7.30am in the morning and by 3.30pm if you’re travelling in the afternoon period. 

“You must buy your ticket before your first journey. You cannot buy a ticket on the tram. Your travel card will automatically activate when valid.”

*From January 2019, Metrolink is introducing four new fare zones and stiff fines of up to £1,000 for a range of offences including drinking alcohol, smoking, vaping or littering on trams or tram stations.

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