Someone redesigned the Manchester Metrolink map and made it much, much better

Look, a pink line tram. Image: Getty.

The Manchester Metrolink map is rubbish. It shows an indeterminate number of tram routes, every one of them in grey; and while it shows you where each starts, and where it ends, it's strangely silent on where they go in between.

Oh, and to make matters worse, the letters which represent the routes on the map don't appear on any of the actual trams. None of this is a network-killing flaw, providing you're trying to get from the suburbs to the city or back again; but in the event you're trying to get from, say, Manchester Airport to Oldham, it's a right pain in the bum.

The official map. Click to expand if you want to suffer. Image: Transport for Greater Manchester.

A few months back I wrote a piece, noting all this and suggesting an alternative: why not colour-code the different lines by the route they took through the city centre?

I was quite lazy about this, though, so this is as far as I got:

Hey, I was busy. Image: CityMetric.

Luckily, however, there are those with rather more commitment and better graphic design skills than me. Andrew Smithers from the excellent Project Mapping has taken my suggestion and run with it, breaking the various routes into five different groups. Here's the result:

Oooooh. Click to expand. Image: Project Mapping.

And here's the strip map version, for inside carriages:

Nice. Click to expand. Image: Project Mapping.

There are disadvantages to this approach – it’s less flexible if the authorities decide they want to unexpectedly divert a tram, say.

But in most situations this, to my mind, is much clearer. Say you do want to get from Manchester Airport to Oldham. Now you can see that one is on the light blue line, the other on the dark blue one, and so you need to change somewhere between St Werburgh's Road and Deansgate-Castlefield. Easy.

The next stop, of course, would be line names. I can think of three – the Airport line for the light blue, the Exchange line for the dark blue and (proud of this one, lads) the Picctoria line for the red one.


But I'm stumped on the other two. Perhaps they'd be better off sticking with colours, letters or numbers – if you have any suggestions, though, do feel free to make them on social media.

That’s three stories about Manchester in two days, you know. Someone will be along in a minute to point out that not everyone lives in Manchester, I’m sure.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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As EU funding is lost, “levelling up” needs investment, not just rhetoric

Oh, well. Image: Getty.

Regional inequality was the foundation of Boris Johnson’s election victory and has since become one of the main focuses of his government. However, the enthusiasm of ministers championing the “levelling up” agenda rings hollow when compared with their inertia in preparing a UK replacement for European structural funding. 

Local government, already bearing the brunt of severe funding cuts, relies on European funding to support projects that boost growth in struggling local economies and help people build skills and find secure work. Now that the UK has withdrawn its EU membership, councils’ concerns over how EU funds will be replaced from 2021 are becoming more pronounced.

Johnson’s government has committed to create a domestic structural funding programme, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), to replace the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF). However, other than pledging that UKSPF will “reduce inequalities between communities”, it has offered few details on how funds will be allocated. A public consultation on UKSPF promised by May’s government in 2018 has yet to materialise.

The government’s continued silence on UKSPF is generating a growing sense of unease among councils, especially after the failure of successive governments to prioritise investment in regional development. Indeed, inequalities within the UK have been allowed to grow so much that the UK’s poorest region by EU standards (West Wales & the Valleys) has a GDP of 68 per cent of the average EU GDP, while the UK’s richest region (Inner London) has a GDP of 614 per cent of the EU average – an intra-national disparity that is unique in Europe. If the UK had remained a member of the EU, its number of ‘less developed’ regions in need of most structural funding support would have increased from two to five in 2021-27: South Yorkshire, Tees Valley & Durham and Lincolnshire joining Cornwall & Isles of Scilly and West Wales & the Valley. Ministers have not given guarantees that any region, whether ‘less developed’ or otherwise, will obtain the same amount of funding under UKSPF to which they would have been entitled under ESIF.


The government is reportedly contemplating changing the Treasury’s fiscal rules so public spending favours programmes that reduce regional inequalities as well as provide value for money, but this alone will not rebalance the economy. A shared prosperity fund like UKSPF has the potential to be the master key that unlocks inclusive growth throughout the country, particularly if it involves less bureaucracy than ESIF and aligns funding more effectively with the priorities of local people. 

In NLGN’s Community Commissioning report, we recommended that this funding should be devolved to communities directly to decide local priorities for the investment. By enabling community ownership of design and administration, the UK government would create an innovative domestic structural funding scheme that promotes inclusion in its process as well as its outcomes.

NLGN’s latest report, Cultivating Local Inclusive Growth: In Practice, highlights the range of policy levers and resources that councils can use to promote inclusive growth in their area. It demonstrates that, through collaboration with communities and cross-sector partners, councils are already doing sterling work to enhance economic and social inclusion. Their efforts could be further enhanced with a fund that learns lessons from ESIF’s successes and flaws: a UKSPF that is easier to access, designed and delivered by local communities, properly funded, and specifically targeted at promoting social and economic inclusion in regions that need it most. “Getting Brexit done” was meant to free up the government’s time to focus once more on pressing domestic priorities. “Getting inclusive growth done” should be at the top of any new to-do list.

Charlotte Morgan is senior researcher at the New Local Government Network.