Impacts on travel behaviour of Greater Manchester's light rail investment (Metrolink Phase 1): evidence from household surveys and Census data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - surveys, land use - impacts, ridership - mode choice, ridership - behaviour, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, mode - subway/metro


Travel behavior, Surveys, Ridership, Patronage (Transit ridership), Mode choice, Modal choice, Manchester (England), Light rail transit, Choice of transportation, Census


Household survey data from 1990 and 1993 and Census data from 1991 and 2001 are used to detect some short and medium term impacts on travel of the Metrolink light rail services which opened in 1992. Particular attention is paid to research design issues to try to isolate Metrolink's impacts from those of other influences on travel behaviour. In the short term a more marked decline in the frequency of bus use is found in the Metrolink corridor compared with conventional rail and 'no rail' corridors. Changes in the frequency of rail use are more prominent in the Metrolink corridor, both to the highest frequency use but also to lower frequency use. Higher frequency rail use tends to be associated with respondents who have limited or no car availability, who are in employment, who are of non-manual social class and who are aged 18-44 years. Metrolink appears to have attracted at least as many former car users as former bus users, but the former car users tend to use the light rail services less frequently. Census commuting data suggest that, in the medium term, Metrolink has increased rail's share of trips, especially to the city centre, contributed to the declining share of bus trips and may have helped to restrain work trips by car.


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