LATEST figures released by transport bosses showed that a large number of motorists changed the way they travelled ahead of a big midweek match at Old Trafford.

Figures revealed by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) showed that 11.4 per cent of regular road users opted to head home earlier than usual to avoid additional traffic heading to the match between Manchester United and Club Brugge on February 29, while 5.3 per cent travelled slightly later to avoid the evening peak.

The 17 per cent of motorists that changed their journey time before or after the evening peak.

The campaign, which sets out to raise awareness of major events and other such issues that could impact people’s journeys, like roadworks, encourages commuters to rethink how they travel, whether that be at a different time or via a different mode altogether.

Set against the backdrop of a number of major highway improvement schemes, like Hyde Road, Great Ancoats Street and Princess Road roundabout, the willingness of people to travel differently helped to avoid delays across the entire road network.

TfGM were able to reach thousands more people in the weeks leading up to the match through press and social media activity, as well as a new online travel advice hub, while TfGM’s instantly recognisable roadside message boards also played a key role in helping to get the across the message that people should rethink how they travelled on the day.

Graham Banks, TfGM's Travel Demand Manager, said, “Major events like this, with 50,000 attendees, put a huge amount of pressure on the entire transport network and our focus is to make sure our customers are well informed of their options and have the smoothest journey possible.

“Thank you to everyone who changed the way they travelled on the night. We appreciate that changing travel habits isn’t always easy but it’s really pleasing to see that so many were willing to make the change.

“We all have a role to play in tackling congestion and 17% of commuters changing their journey time on a single night had a really positive impact across the entire transport network, reducing the high levels of congestion that we’d usually expect at peak times on a match day. It’s also provided us with lots of useful data that we can use to identify potential problems and opportunities for future events, making successes like this more regular.

“Because of a simple change in behaviour, visitors to Old Trafford benefited from a smoother journey, while regular commuters avoided the match day traffic; as far as we’re concerned, it was a great win, on and off the pitch!”

As well as an impact on the roads, Metrolink also saw success following the promotion of their park and ride sites at East Didsbury, Sale Water Park and Ladywell. While these sites are well-used throughout the day by commuters, encouraging use after 5pm means they’re being used to their full capability. The three sites saw an average increase in usage of 56% compared to the Thursday before, showing that people also changed their mode, freeing up the highways.

Targeted behaviour change campaigns for large events such as this one are part of the Mayor’s Congestion Deal, which sets out a number of ways for transport bodies, local authorities, businesses and individuals to tackle congestion across Greater Manchester together.