I Wanna Ride The Bus!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Devious Diversions

There is something that is stuck to the bus stops opposite Manchester Victoria rail station which spells a tale of doom. It's an A4 piece of GMPTE-headed paper, with ominous words spelled out in in 24pt Times New Roman capitals: "SUNDAY 9TH APRIL THIS BUS STOP IS CLOSED AND BUSES ARE DIVERTED. PLEASE USE THE PREVIOUS OR NEXT STOP."

That's the limit of the information we get from the owners of the bus stops and the providers of bus timetables throughout the metropolitan area, GMPTE. (Looks like this is winding up as another GMPTE moan, I really don't hate GMPTE, honest.) Now bear in mind that Victoria Station is a calling point for, oh, about 15 outbound bus routes, maybe more, and the sign said that buses were diverted, did this mean that they would be missing Victoria Station altogether, or would they just miss the stop which had been commandeered by the railway for what looked like replacement coach services?

So I went to the previous stop, Urbis' 8-only stop which is just round the corner from the stop which has the rest of the routes. It also had the sign of doom pasted on.

The next stop in that direction for the 8 is Shudewho, and I went up to the NCP / bus station there to try and find a bus home. This isn't normally a problem, I have a choice of, oh, about 10 routes during the week.

This, however is a Sunday, and I checked out the stop F at the bottom of the hill, home to the 67 and 100 routes, which do run on Sundays, and there were no buses. Surely the diversions didn't go this far out and they were all trying to get through Piccadilly Overcrowdens. Sometimes it's best to ask the question, so up to the travelshop I went.

I was assured that the diversion wouldn't affect my home stop, and the 8 would be next, from stop A, at the top of the hill.

Yep, dear reader, you guessed it, a 100 then sat at the traffic lights opposite stop A, it must have sneaked in and out of stop F.

Finally an 8 arrives, I board, and the bus turns left out of Shudehill. That's a diversion, so I guessed it would pick up the booked route by following the ring road and turning left after Victoria Station onto Great Ducie Street / Victoria Street and onto Deansgate.

No, it dropped down the hill past the Co-Op on the ring road, then turned left onto Corporation Street and picked up the booked route at Urbis, stopping to pick up at the supposedly-closed 8-only bus stop and following the normal route through Victoria Station.

So what can we learn from this? Look before you leap? Check before you travel? That's something I preach all day, have I made a mistake and missed something? So I checked the official source of information, that being GMPTE's website with leaflets and notification of service changes on this page, you'll find plenty of notices but no actual detail of diversions or retimings, and nothing on my routes today, and if I check the journey planner and enter journey details for what I want to do, and check all times at all stops, the route for a 67 which goes the same way appears to be booked route. NP (Urbis,) NY (Victoria Station,) NT (Manchester Cathedral,) then the risky ND stop. That's the normal route.

I guess, the only thing we can learn from this is that we can't trust the PTE to inform the people who fund it, the council tax payers in the area, with accurate information about the buses they're supposedly supposed to be encouraging us to use.

It really is no suprise that bus patronage is dropping in all areas except London, as the only image I get of GMPTE when I think about them is their singular inability to manage a drinking session in a brewery.

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