In her latest column, Tameside Council Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington says the opening of the new Ashton Interchange is "proof of our commitment to building back a better and greener future".
Since I became Leader of Tameside Council, one of my priorities has been building up our local economy and infrastructure.
Even during our fight against the coronavirus pandemic we have not wavered from this key task. Recently we hit a major milestone as services began running from the brand new Ashton-Under-Lyne Interchange.
The Interchange, built for £32.7 million with funding from Transport for Greater Manchester, provides passengers with radically improved amenities and a modern, accessible gateway into Ashton and Tameside as a whole.
Due to its proximity to the train station and Metrolink stop, passengers will be able to easily change between bus, rail and tram services, and the more efficient pedestrian crossings and secure cycle parking spaces will reduce walking time and make cycling easier as well.
As people begin to return to work and visit our towns to use shops and services again, it’s more important than ever that people feel safe and confident when they travel.
That’s why, in keeping with all new Transport for Greater Manchester infrastructure, extensive measures have been put in place within the Interchange to protect commuters from coronavirus.
Hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed within the main concourse, and a rigorous anti-viral hygiene regime will see increased cleaning on buses and the Interchange itself alongside litter collections taking place throughout the day. A number of measures to support social distancing such as ground stickers, platform signage and announcements have also been incorporated within the Interchange.
The past year has been a challenge unlike anything we have faced in over a century.
While it’s unlikely that we’ve seen the back of coronavirus yet, the opening of the Ashton-Under-Lyne Interchange is proof of our commitment to building back a better and greener future. Making it easier and safer for residents to travel around Tameside will unlock greater economic prosperity, increase employment opportunities and transform learning and skills in the borough.
Building world-leading transport infrastructure is also an important step to helping people to leave their cars at home to reduce congestion, improve air quality and protect our shared environment.
Even as we grapple with the coronavirus pandemic in the present, the opening of the Interchange shows that we are still keeping one eye firmly on the future.
My thanks go out to everybody who helped make this new transport hub a reality. I for one can’t wait to make full use of it.