The congestion question: how will it affect you?

20 Oct 2008

Experts at The University of Manchester are teaming up with BBC Manchester to produce a detailed picture of changing public opinion on controversial plans to reshape the region’s transport system.

The congestion question: what do you think?
The congestion question: what do you think?

Proposals to introduce congestion charging, as part of a plan to invest £2.7billion funding in the region’s transport system, have sparked a huge debate and divided public opinion.

And now experts from The University’s National Centre for e-Social Science (NCeSS) – along with BBC Manchester -  have launched an interactive map, which will colour code different shades of opinion on the proposals and group them by postcode.

The map – at - shows how the public would react if a charge was introduced during  peak periods – up to a maximum daily charge of £5.

The public will be asked to answer the question: If a congestion charge is introduced in Greater Manchester, along with significant investment in public transport will you:

  • Drive and pay the charge
  • Drive at different times
  • Use public transport/motorbike/bicycle
  • Work or shop elsewhere
  • I am not affected by these changes

Prof Peter Halfpenny, Director of NCeSS said the maps will provide a rich source of information to the local authority planners tasked with carrying out the changes to Greater Manchester’s transport system.

“Planners will gain an unfolding visual representation of the public’s opinions about the proposals as the debate about them hots up,” he said.

“We hope as many people as possible contribute to this initiative.

“The more who do so, the better the views of the public will be represented on this far-reaching scheme which will affect the everyday travel plans of all who live in the region.”

BBC North West Tonight editor Cerys Griffiths said: "Only people in Greater Manchester get to vote in the referendum in December.

“But if you live in Lancashire, Merseyside or Cheshire and drive in to Manchester to work or shop, these plans could affect you.

“We want to know what people right across the north west think of the proposed charge and the public transport investment that would come with it.

“The Congestion Question map gives us a chance to see how the region would react if the plans go ahead."

The map is closely based on work by NCeSS colleagues at University College London, who produced MapTube, a site which provides a mechanism to track trends and plot public opinion on a range of issues.

The government has promised Greater Manchester Councils a £2.7bn Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) to carry out improvements to bus, rail, tram and school bus services if it introduces a two-ring congestion charge system.

The public will also be able to contribute to the map by visiting

Notes for editors

The ESRC National Centre for e-Social Science is a national research centre, with research teams spread around the country, and a co-ordination and research hub based at the University of Manchester. For more details visit

The National Centre for e-Social Science research team based at UCL has produced MapTube which provides a mechanism to track trends and plot public opinions.

Please note: this is NOT a scientific survey or poll and is not connected in any way to the official referendum process

For more details contact:

Mike Addelman
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881 567


Helen Holt
BBC Press Office
0161 244 4893