Here's an open source transport and planning map of Greater Manchester to play with

All the roadworks planned in Greater Manchester. Just in case you were planning to drive there. Image: GMODIN.

Open planning maps are all the rage these days. London's transport authorities have developed a nifty tool which you can use to work out how well connected any point in the city is to any other city. In Bangalore, the government is crowd-sourcing ideas to redevelop their neighbourhoods.

So it's probably time we introduced you to the Greater Manchester Open Data Infrastructure Map. Which does things like this.

All the cycling routes in central Manchester.

It brings together vast reams of data on infrastructure, social facilities and land-use restrictions, so that developers can check out both the costs and the benefits of building in any particular location.

But it’s also open to any passing internet user. And so, if it takes your fancy, you can see where all the schools are:

You can see what Manchester’s electricity network looks like:

You can see the coverage of the Metrolink tram network...

...and how it links up with heavy rail services:

Perhaps the coolest things we've found you can do with it – for, y'know, a certain value of cool – is to combine this info with the boundaries of the green belt.

That helps you spot areas of the conurbation that could really do with better transport links.

Just a few suggestions the transport authorities might want to consider.

The map was built by Salford City Council, at the request of various local business groups (the Greater Manchester LEP, advisory group New Economy), and with the help of the Cabinet Office. 

If you're the sort of person who likes playing with planning maps – and given that you're here, we're assuming that you are – there's plenty of other fun stuff you can do with this one. Check it out here.

All images: screen shots of the Greater Manchester Open Data Infrastructure Map.


Sadiq Khan and Grant Shapps clash over free bus travel for under 18s

A London bus at Victoria station. Image: Getty.

The latest front in the row between Transport for London (TfL) and national government over how to fund the capital’s transport system: free bus travel for the under 18s.

Two weeks ago, you’ll recall, TfL came perilously close to running out of money and was forced to ask for a bail out. The government agreed, but offered less money, and with more strings attached, than the agency wanted. At present, there are a range of fare discounts – some up to 100% – available to children depending on their age and which service they’re using, provided they have the right Oyster card. One of the government’s strings, the mayor’s office says, was to end all free TfL travel for the under 18s, Oyster or no Oyster.

The Department for Transport’s line on all this is that this is about maximising capacity. Many working-age people need to use buses to get to their jobs: they’re more likely to be able to do that, while also social distancing, if those buses aren’t already full of teenagers riding for free. (DfT cited the same motivation for banning the use of the Freedom Pass, which provides free travel for the retired, at peak times.)

But in an open letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, wrote that TfL believed that 30% of children who currently received free travel had a statutory entitlement to it, because they attend schools more than a certain distance from their homes. If TfL doesn’t fund this travel, London’s boroughs must, which apart from loading costs onto local government means replacing an administrative system that already exists with one that doesn’t. 

Some Labour staffers also smell Tory ideological objections to free things for young people at work. To quote Khan’s letter:

“It is abundantly clear that losing free travel would hit the poorest Londoners hardest at a time when finances are stretched more than ever... I want to make sure that families who might not have a choice but to use public transport are not further disadvantaged.”

London’s deputy mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, is set to meet government officials next week to discuss all this. In the mean time, you can read Khan’s letter here.

UPDATE: The original version of this piece noted that the full agreement between the mayor and DfT remained mysteriously unpublished. Shortly after this story went live, the agreement appeared. Here it is.

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.