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Public transport services in Greater Manchester are co-ordinated by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE), a public body (Passenger Transport Executive) established as SELNEC PTE in 1969 in accordance with the Transport Act 1968.
The original SELNEC Passenger Transport Authority was taken over by the Greater Manchester County Council on 1 April 1974 in order to co-ordinate bus and rail services within the new county. The council had overall responsibility for strategic planning and all policy decisions covering public transport and highways. GMPTE's purpose was to secure the provision of a completely integrated and efficient system of passenger transport to meet the needs of its area. In 1977, it was noted as the largest authority for public transport in the United Kingdom after London Transport.
Greater Manchester lies at the heart of the North West transport network. Much of the infrastructure is centred on the City of Manchester with the Manchester Inner Ring Road, an amalgamation of several major roads, circulating the city centre. The county is the only place in the UK to have a fully orbital motorway, the M60, which passes through all of the boroughs except Bolton and Wigan. Greater Manchester has a higher percentage of the motorway network than any other county in the country, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it has the most traffic lanes side by side (17), spread across several parallel carriageways (M61 at Linnyshaw in Walkden, close to the M60 interchange). Greater Manchester's 85 miles (137 km) of motorway network saw 5.8 billion vehicle kilometres in 2002 – about 6% of the UK's total, or 89,000 vehicles a day.
The A580 "East Lancs" road is a primary A road that connects Manchester and Salford with Liverpool. It was the UK's first purpose-built intercity highway and was officially opened by King George V on 18 July 1934.
There are proposals for congestion charging in Greater Manchester.
Unlike the current version of the London scheme, two cordons will be used, one covering the main urban core of the Greater Manchester Urban Area and another covering the Manchester City Centre.
There is an extensive bus network which radiates from Manchester City Centre. The largest providers are First Manchester for the northern parts of the county and Stagecoach Manchester for the southern parts. In addition to the network of bus routes, a light rail system began operating in 1992 called Manchester Metrolink. The tram system serves the City of Manchester, City of Salford, Bury and Trafford. An expansion of the system is due to begin in 2008 which will see the system run to all boroughs except Bolton and Wigan. Greater Manchester has a rail network of 142 route miles (229 km) with 98 stations, forming a central hub to the North West rail network. Train services are provided by private operators and run on the national rail network which is owned and managed by Network Rail. An extensive canal network also remains from the Industrial Revolution. Manchester Airport, which is the fourth largest in the United Kingdom, serves the county with flights to more destinations than any other airport in the UK: since June 2007 it has served 225 routes.
The three modes of public transport in the area are heavily used. 19.7 million rail journeys were made in the GMPTE-supported area in the 2005/2006 financial year – an increase of 9.4% over 2004/2005; there were 19.9 million journeys on Metrolink; and the bus system carried 219.4 million passengers.