I Wanna Ride The Bus!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Shudewho? (Part 2)

The second reason why I believe that Shudehill is little-used is that the majority of the buses that use the A6 corridor now go into Piccadilly Gardens, the open, windswept place that is the only bus terminus in Manchester city centre where it's possible to step off one bus from the A6 corridor and then get on another to go to the south of the city.

Piccadilly Gardens is busy. In fact, it's very busy. Department stores are right on top of the Gardens complex, buses fight trams to get into the place, there's a hotel tower block on one side, and what was a sunken garden on the other has been replaced by a patch of grass and a big concrete block.

Piccadilly Gardens does not have the infrastucture to be as busy as it is. It's open to the elements, the congestion has to be seen to be believed. Many bus routes say Manchester Piccadilly but don't go the gardens but side streets off it because the central Gardens terminus is so overcrowded. That's one of the reasons why there was to be a new bus station, to take some of the pressure off the Gardens.

Not all buses served Piccadilly Gardens prior to Shudehill opening. Some buses from the A6 corridor served the temporary Exchange bus station (on the site of the old Exchange bus station from years back,) and others terminated on Corporation Street opposite the Co-op headquarters.

When Shudehill opened, the dominant operator on the A6 corridor, FirstGroup moved at least the 32 (Wigan to Manchester express) and 12 (Bolton to Manchester, the pretty way) routes into the crowded Gardens terminus instead of using the new bus station. I rode a 12 one night back home from the Gardens (fine rain and windy as usual,) and a person struck up a conversation about somebody getting lost.

He said to me, "All the buses go here now instead of Corporation Street." If that's the general opinion of bus users who use the A6 corridor, then it's no wonder that Shudehill is extremely quiet.

Manchester has two-and-a-bit bus termini and a coach station. Shudehill is too small, and in the wrong place. Unless operators are forced to use Shudehill, then we will continue to see passengers hukering themselves down against the elements in Piccadilly Gardens, either in the central plaza or the dark, dingy side streets that lead out from there.

For a city that is supposed to be proud of itself and in the process of flat-building regeneration, those who use public transport continue to get a very poor deal.

In your earlier post, you mentioned that the Arndale might have been the city’s one bus station. That certainly wasn’t the case, it only served the north of the city, as Shudehill does now. Piccadilly Gardens used to be an undercover bus station. Built the same time as Piccadilly Plaza, to the same architecture, it was terrible eyesore. The open plan approach is a vast improvement.

There has always been this divide in the city’s public transport. The trains are the same with Victoria taking the north and Piccadilly the south. For privatisation, Greater Manchester Busses was split into GM North, which was eventually bought by First Bus and GM South which was bought by Stagecoach. The two don’t compete often; are you sure First Bus dominates the A6 (which I take to mean south through Longsight, Levershulme et cetera towards Stockport)?

That people can’t easily travel north-south isn’t good. But north and south Manchester don’t really mix. Why would anyone who lives in south Manchester want to travel north and why would they want anyone who lives in North Manchester to be able to travel south?
A fair question and thanks for being the first to comment on this blog.

With respect to trains, there has been an approach to pack as many trains into Piccadilly as possible. Ever since the line between Salford Crescent and Deansgate was built, there has been a gradual erosion of services to Victoria from the north side of Manchester.

We're now seeing the same thing with the buses. The only place where it's possible to step off one bus and get on another to the south side of the city is at Piccadilly Gardens, if you're lucky.

If I want to go and see my friends in Denton or Gorton, it means getting a bus to Manchester, then one from opposite the Brunswick.

Finally, the A6 is what you make of it where you live. To me, the A6 corridor is Swinton, Walkden, Blackrod and Chorley, with Bolton to one side, because that is *my* A6. The one that I can see from my window.

Until Manchester has unified transport options, and that means a bus station capable of handling all routes, people won't cross the city unless they have to. That has to be a bad thing for all of us.
Manchester's transport systems is run by morons just like every other city's transport city. Anyone taking a buss down the oxford road wilmsolw road coridor during rush hour will testify to this
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