Travel for Greater Manchester has announced this afternoon that it is making travel passes for older or disabled people valid all day starting from Friday 20th March.
Currently, the passes restrict free travel to after 9.30am to avoid peak commute times, and concessionary pass holders have been required to pay a full adult fare. But this will change as of tomorrow.
Whilst unnecessary travel is being discouraged across the board, the decision has been taken following announcements from leading supermarkets that they will be setting aside the first hour of business for older customers and those most vulnerable to Covid-19.
However, authorities are still advising against non-essential use of public transport and for people to vary their travel times to steer clear of rush hour where possible.
Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, said: “We encourage everybody to keep travel on public transport to a minimum and to only make essential journeys.
“That said, we recognise that some older and disabled people, who are not yet self-isolated, may need to travel earlier than usual to get to the shops or to attend a medical appointment.
“For that reason, we have decided to lift these restrictions to help older and disabled people get the essential supplies and support they need.
“I’d like to thank TfGM and transport operators for working together quickly to make this possible. But I do stress that anyone who is thinking of travelling on public transport should only make their journey if absolutely necessary – and help keep vulnerable passengers safe.
“Where you need to travel, please do so outside usual peak travel hours where possible. This will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and reduce pressure on our essential services in the days and weeks to come.”
Systems are now being updated to reflect the new concessionary pass travel hours. Customers should note that whilst some platform machines may not be updated until Monday, this does not affect their travel before 9.30am.
A rigorous cleaning regime is in place on all public transport to make the environment as hygienic and safe as possible for users.
With fewer journeys being made on public transport and fewer staff and drivers available, bus, rail and tram services will start to be reduced over the coming days.
From 22nd March, buses and other public transport services will be subject to more frequent changes and services are likely to start operating at a reduced frequency.
Metrolink passengers with 28 day and annual travelcards are being offered refunds on the number of days left remaining on their tickets provided there is a minimum of seven days remaining.