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The Manchester Trams App – Making Transport More Accessible

Max Diamond, Front-End Developer talks about why he made the Manchester Trams app, making transport more accessible and using tech for good.

By Reason Digital · July 9, 2024

The Manchester Trams App – Making Transport More Accessible

Ever been so frustrated with something that you just had to fix it yourself? That’s exactly what happened with our very own Front-End Developer, Max Diamond. Max was fed up with the Bee Network app in Greater Manchester, so he took matters into his own hands and created an app to address all his frustrations. 

In this blog post he discusses the app in detail:  

The Manchester Trams app is an Android and iOS app that provides real-time departures for Manchester’s Metrolink as well as favourites, closest station locator, ticket prices and more.  

The Why and the How?

My motivation behind building the app came from seeing the existing apps available that weren't very accessible or lacked features that I thought a public transport app should have. Additionally, I needed the app for myself as I'm a frequent user of Manchester’s Metrolink network.

Max Diamond

To begin with, I looked for APIs (an interface that would allow me to fetch data programmatically) that would provide me with real-time departure information and came across the TfGM Developer Platform (editor’s note: The portal is now closed to new users). Additionally, I also searched publicly accessible data on the Department of Transport‘s website for information on Stations, Lines and Ticket prices.  

The next step was to organize all the data I had collected from these two sources and store it in a database. This was a long process as there was a lot of data and I had to verify that each part was correct and up to date. 

After this, I built an API that would interact with the database and fetch real-time information from the TfGM’s developer portal. 

Finally, I built the App and originally targeted Android to begin with. I took inspiration for the design and layout from existing travel apps such as Trainline, as well as sticking to two simple rules; 


  • The design must be easy to navigate. The more confusing the app is, the less likely people will want to use it. 
  • The design must deliver value as quickly as possible. No one wants to click through loads of hoops to get the information they’re looking for. 
a screenshot of a phone showing the Manchester Trams App
The home screen, featuring a search bar, a favourites list and closest station locator.

Under the hood, the app is built with Vue, a popular web framework, and Ionic, which converted the Vue app into an Android app that is ready to be published on the Android Play Store. Recently, I used the same tools to create and publish the app on the Apple App Store. 


Positive Reception

A few weeks after the initial launch, I also built a marketing site with Astro that directs visitors to either the Android Play Store or the Apple App Store and features a few testimonials from users.

A screenshot of reviews of the Manchester Trams App
Some of the positive reivews of the app

Brillian little app that allows you to time your walk to the station to perfection!

Anonymous User, Android Play Store

The app features real-time departures, the latest disruptions and delays, ticket prices, and information on individual stations, such as their zone. It’s also translated into 19 languages. To add these languages, I added all the English text in the app to a spreadsheet and used OpenAI’s ChatGPT to translate it. Then, I had a few people verify the accuracy of the translations. 

  The Future of the Manchester Trams

These features were added over a period of 16 months and came from valuable feedback from app users. Feedback from users often mentioned that they’d like a feature added due to it not existing on the Bee Network app itself. 

The Manchester Trams app is currently enjoyed by over 4000 users and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback through various channels, including the Android Play Store, Apple App Store and social media. 

I’ve also released Manchester Buses app for Android that provides real-time bus locations, routes and bus stop information. Whilst it’s less popular, the general reception is that users like the live location feature and the separation of Trams and Buses into their own apps. 

Users have consistently praised the Trams app’s intuitive design, helpful features and reliable performance. The high ratings and reviews reflect the app’s success in meeting user needs and expectations. 

As the app on both platforms fills the needs of most users, I’ve taken a step back from actively developing features. However, I’m always receiving feature requests and experimenting with new ways to deliver as much value as possible to the end users through the app. The next big feature will likely be a better, interactive, map feature.