Getting Around in Manchester
Located in the northern part of England, Manchester lies in the second most populous urban centre- Greater Manchester, in the country. Synonymous with being the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was the first properly industrialized city in the world. Throughout the period of the Industrial Revolution and that of the British Empire, ruling a major part of the world, Manchester- with its thriving and heavily advanced industries, brought in huge revenue for the British Empire. (At one point in the twentieth century, the “Made in Manchester” tag was amongst the most coveted things in the world!)
Apart from being a city with a rich history, Manchester is also amongst the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. With its rich culture in music, arts and sports, it continues to attract visitors from all over the world. Manchester is also one the few cities in the world which can boast of being a true cosmopolitan city. Different communities and cultures are well represented here, and exist with each other in peace and harmony. The city is a delight for tourists, with everything for everyone. It is lined up exotic shopping places, great restaurants, world famous entertainment centres, museums, galleries and other spaces of public interest. Those who wish to explore the old-world charm of the area can visit Greater Manchester to visit quaint market towns, traditional pubs and beautifully maintained green spaces. The world-renowned music scene in Manchester is another jewel in its crown.
No mention of Manchester will ever be complete without talking about its football, its two famous football clubs in particular: Manchester United and Manchester City. Amongst the most famous in the world, these footballing giants command legions of passionate fans from all over the world. Many thousands come to the city just to visit the stadiums and see their favourite team in action.
Footballing reasons aside, the city has a thousand ways to entice visitors: The Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, the churches of St. Anne and St, Mary, The Royal Exchange Theatre, The Opera House, The Fletcher Moss Park and Botanical Gardens, the list goes on and on. The Manchester shopping centre and the various international festivals which take place all round the year are just more reasons to be in Manchester.
Whatever be your travel fantasy, be rest assured that Manchester won’t leave you disappointed.
With the travel plans sorted, let us now look at the various ways of getting around in Manchester:
Getting Around Manchester by Bus:
With a well-developed and efficient public transportation network, getting around Manchester using the metropolitan bus service is one the most popular modes of transport in the city. Buses are amongst the most used modes of transport in the city, with the corridor between Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road being the busiest bus route in Europe.
Since the public transport in London is deregulated, there are a plethora of bus service providers in the city. There are two main bus stations in the city: the Piccadilly Gardens, which handles a lot of traffic and can hence be very congested, and the gleaming new Shudehill. The Piccadilly station mostly caters to the South and East of the city. Apart from that, few buses may also operate to the West. The Shudehill station handles bus services plying to the North. Various bus companies operate in the city, including UK North, Magic Bus, First and Stagecoach.
Day ticket services are generally good value for your money. However, since these carriers are private, the same ticket cannot be used on multiple bus carriers. A SYSTEM ONE ticket can however be used across all carriers. Tickets can directly be bought from the bus drivers. It is important to note that ticket prices may vary according to the popularity of the route.
Bus services start in the early hours of the morning and continue to operate till late hours of the night. The bus frequency is approx. 10-20 minutes, with the popular routes seeing buses more frequently.
Metro shuttles are free buses linking the main rail stations, car parks, shopping areas and businesses. They operate in Manchester city Centre, Bolton and Stockport. This service is one of the best things to have been incorporated by the city officials into the public transportation system.
They ply on the following routes:
|Piccadilly Station - Portland Street ( Chinatown ) - Peter Street ( Manchester Central ) - Deansgate ( Spinningfields ) - Deansgate - Victoria Station - Northern Quarter - Piccadilly Station||Buses Run: Monday to Friday 7AM - 7PM ( Every Ten Minutes ) Saturday 8:30AM - 6:30PM ( Every Ten Minutes ) Sunday and Public Holidays 9:30AM - 5:55PM ( Every Twelve Minutes )|
|Piccadilly Station - Northern Quarter - Withy Grove ( Printworks ) - Victoria Station - Deansgate - Deansgate Station - Oxford Road Station - Peter Street ( Manchester Central ) - Deansgate - Victoria Station - Shudehill - Northern Quarter - Piccadilly Station.||Buses Run: Monday to Friday 6:30AM - 6:30PM ( Every Ten Minutes ) Saturday 8:30AM - 6:30PM ( Every Ten Minutes ) Sunday and Public Holidays 9:35AM - 6PM ( Every Twelve Mins )|
|Piccadilly Station - Portland Street - Charlotte Street ( Chinatown ) - Cross Street - St Mary's Gate - Deansgate - ( Spinningfields, Peak times only ) - Deansgate ( John Rylands Library Peak Times Only ) - John Dalton Street - Cross Street - King Street - New York Street ( Chinatown ) - Chorlton Street ( Central Coach Station ) - Piccadilly Station||Buses Run: Monday to Friday 7:25AM - 7:20PM ( Every Ten Minutes ) Saturday 8:35AM - 6:25PM ( Every Ten Minutes ) Sunday and Public Holidays 9:40AM - 6:05PM ( Every Twelve Minutes )|
The Transport for Greater Manchester (https://beta.tfgm.com/) is the body responsible for looking after the public transportation in the city and have a fine reputation of being tourist friendly. They should be contacted for any unbiased and useful information on using public transport in Manchester.
Getting Around Manchester by Train:
Manchester, already known as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, also occupies a prestigious spot in the history of railways: the first passenger train services in the world began here. Though perhaps not as popular as the buses, trains are a quick way of getting around in Manchester, without having to worry about traffic jams and other road-related hassles. The rail services in Manchester cater to a limited number of locations in the city and surrounding areas, including Bolton, Rochdale, Wigan and Stockport. Most of the trains in the city pass either through the Manchester Piccadilly station or the Manchester Victoria station. Train services are provided by private operators and run on the national rail network which is owned and managed by Network Rail. Tourists can make use of the “Journey Planner” feature on the TfGM website to plan their journeys.
An important thing to be noted here is that congestion can occur at peak hours and trains often incur delays for following trains down the line at Oxford Road.
Details on the various train service providers in Manchester are as follows:
1. Arriva Trains Wales:
- From Greater Manchester, Arriva Trains Wales operates inter-regional services from:
- Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations to Chester (via Warrington) and stations along the North Wales coast as far as Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead.
- Piccadilly and Stockport stations to Crewe, Shrewsbury, Hereford, Swansea, Milford Haven and selected intermediate stations.
- All trains are fully accessible and at-seat catering is provided.
- For information on fares, destinations and special offers visit www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk
2. Cross Country Trains:
- Cross Country Trains covers over 1400 route miles and calls at over 100 stations – stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance, CrossCountry Trains is one of the most extensive rail networks in the UK.
- All trains are fully accessible, have First Class accommodation and at-seat catering is provided.
- For information on fares, destinations and special offers visit www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk
3. East Midlands Trains:
- East Midlands Trains operates the longest cross-country rail route in Britain, linking Liverpool with Norwich, serving four of the eight core cities in England. All trains are fully accessible, and at-seat catering is provided.
- For information on fares, destinations and special offers visit www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk
4. Network Rail ( Piccadilly Station ):
- Room 622, Tower Block, Piccadilly Rail Station, Manchester, M60 7RA
- Network Rail
- 40 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EE
- Telephone: 020 7557 8000, Fax: 020 7557 9000
- Northern Rail plays a vital role in the North of England. Each day, Northern Rail trains serve a population of nearly 15m and call at over 500 stations in almost every town in the North of England and further afield and to four National Parks (Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors and the Lake District).
- For information on fares, destinations and special offers visit www.northernrail.org
6. First TransPennine Express ( FTPE ):
- FTPE operates longer distance inter-regional services from Greater Manchester (Piccadilly, Oxford Road, Deansgate, the Airport Station, Stalybridge, Stockport, Salford Crescent, Bolton and Horwich) to Barrow, Blackpool, Carlisle, Cleethorpes, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lancaster, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Windermere and York (and many intermediate stations).
- All trains are modern fully accessible diesel units that can reach 100 mph, have First Class accommodation and power points.
- For information on fares, destinations and special offers visit www.tpexpress.co.uk
7. Virgin Trains:
- Virgin Trains provides fast, frequent passenger train services which connect major towns and cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
- From Greater Manchester (Piccadilly and Stockport stations), Virgin Trains operate long-distance services to Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, London (and selected intermediate stations). Those trains leave Manchester and Stockport every 20 minutes.
Getting Around Manchester by Tram:
The Manchester urban light rail system, popularly known as tram, is called the Metrolink, and is also commonly as “the Met”. It is amongst the newest tram systems in Europe. They run along six color-coded lines. Tram fares are higher than those of bus fares in Manchester, but they are still quite an efficient way of getting around in Manchester. However, the popularity of these trams makes them quite crowded during peak hours. Tickets can be purchased through automated machines below the tram stations. Ticket prices may also vary during peak hours.
Manchester trams run every 6 minutes (Mon-Fri 7.30AM-6PM, Sat 9.30AM-5.30PM). On average, trams run every 12 minutes from Monday to Saturday, and every 15 minutes on Sundays and public holidays. Riders must complete single ticket journeys within 90 minutes. While the ticket fares are on the pricey side, frequent travellers can save money by getting the weekly and monthly tram passes.
Following is the map of the Greater Manchester Tram Network:
Following are some important information about the Metrolink:
- Metrolink is an easily accessible system, all stops have either a ramp, lift or escalator access.
- All stops on the tram network are equipped with Ticket Vending machines, CCTV, Emergency Call Points, and Customer Information Points, and get-me-there smart readers.
- Most of the platforms have tactile edges to help the visually impaired passengers.
- All platforms have designated wheelchair/pushchair access point for step free access.
- Each tram has designated disabled/pushchair areas with its own emergency / information call points.
Getting Around Manchester by Taxi:
Unlike London, travelling around Manchester by a taxi doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Commuters have the option of hailing a black cab on the street or booking it in advance. Taxis are widely available across the Manchester City Centre, at various transportation interchanges and in various suburban parts of Manchester. They are a quick way of getting around in the city, and a quick way too. However as is the case with taxi travel all over the world, it is slightly expensive than other means of commute.
However, for the sake of their own safety and convenience, travellers must strictly observe the following guidelines, as recommended by the Manchester City Council:
- Visitors are advised to only hail a licensed vehicle. While flagging a taxi, make sure that they are the Hackney Carriages. Also, visitors must know the difference between a Hackney Carriage and a private hire vehicle.
- Both hackney carriage and private hire drivers are issued with an id badge showing their photograph and licence details. This badge must be visible and can be worn or displayed in the vehicle.
- Try not to hail a private hire vehicle, for you will be uninsured in case of an injury or a mishap.
- Check the official website to know where the official taxi ranks are located, in the city.
- Always check your fare to avoid getting overcharged.
- While travelling alone, book your taxi in advance.
Cycling Around in Manchester:
As is the case with most big metropolises in the world, the rising traffic and vehicular congestion is pushing people to adopt effective ways of transportation, cycling being one of them. With dedicated efforts being put in by the authorities to encourage people to take up cycling as a means of commute, cycling is increasingly becoming very popular amongst the citizens of Manchester. With dedicated cycling lanes, cycling hubs and free skill training sessions, cycling around in Manchester is very convenient. There are various spots in the city where you can safely lock you bike.
However, riders still need to observe the following safety measures and precautions:
- Riders are advised to plan their journey and their route. The transport for Greater Manchester’s website has a feature called “Travel Planner” which allows you to choose a route best suited for you and your travel.
- Wear light coloured clothing and make sure you are visible to fellow road users. Hi viz fabrics are recommended for their reflectivity.
- Use light and reflectors, particularly in the dark.
- Always wear a helmet for your own safety
- Take a safe and prominent position on the road
- Never ever overtake a large vehicle from the left, whether stationary or not.
- Keep a stowable jacket for rough weather.
Driving Around in Manchester:
Driving around in Manchester isn’t among the most popular or convenient option of exploring the city. Peak hour congestion, traffic jams and the high cost of car parking make driving around in the city a bit inconvenient for tourists and travellers. Most of the shopping centres and tourist attractions are pedestrianised, thereby making driving a futile exercise.
However, driving is the best way of getting out of the main city and exploring outer regions. Roads are broad and smooth and well connected. Signboards are clear and simple too.
Those interested in driving around can rent cars in the city.
Exploring Manchester by Foot:
Unlike many major metros of the world, Manchester is quite pedestrian friendly and can be easily explored on foot. A walk from one side if the city centre to the other side doesn’t take more than 15 minutes. Start off from the G/MEX- Bridgewater Hall area of the city, and you will reach the Albert Square/Town Hall central area in about 5 minutes. Moving North from the Albert Square, the Arndale Shopping Centre can be reached by a further 5-7-minute walk. From the Arndale Centre to the Nynex Arena takes about another 5 minutes by foot.
However, as is the case everywhere, certain precautions must be exercised for safety purposes:
- Avoid getting into brawls and confrontations.
- Avoid getting into certain areas, which may be identified by dim lighting, deserted streets and certain “red” flags.
- Keep the emergency numbers noted with you. In case of an emergency or an attack, call 112 or 999, and report the incident.