The "jewel in the crown" of Manchester's extensive and efficient public tranport system is the light rail Metrolink. This is quite unique in that the trams are also trains and can run on standard guage raillines as well as the street tramlines.
The city centre is perfectly walkable and also has the free Metroshuttle bus service but for journeys further afield such as Old Trafford, Salford Docks and the towns of Bury, Eccles and Altrincham this seems an ideal mode of transport.
Tickets must be purchased from either machines at the stops or GMPTE travel shops. Single tickets are valid for 90 minutes and fares depend on whether your journey is during peak periods. Also available are day tickets - Metromax tickets (both peak and off-peak) and also a good value weekend ticket.
If you are travelling into Manchester by train you can also use your train ticket for the day that it's valid on the Metrolink services if the ticket has CTLZ on it.
As part of Manchester's committment to reduce traffic congestion in the city there is a free, regular, bus shuttle service which covers pretty much the whole city centre on 3 circular routes. These are simplicity itself to use, just hop off and on at any of the stops.
This service is funded and supported by the Manchester City Council, the Greater Manchester Public Transport Authority, the City Centre Management Company, NCP, Allied London Spinningfields and the First bus and train company.
The three routes are as follows:
Route 1 (Orange route) Mon-Sat, 7am to 7pm - about every 5 minutes and Sunday, 10am to 6pm - about every 10 minutes. Piccadilly Station to Portland Street, Deansgate, Arndale Centre and back to Piccadilly via York Street and the Central Coach Station.
Route 2 (Green Route) Mon-Sat, 7am to 7pm - about every 10 minutes and Sunday, 10am to 6pm - about every 10 minutes. Shudehill Interchange (at the Arndale) to Victoria Station, Deansgate, Deansgate Station, Hume Street, Oxford Road and then back via Whitworth Street, Spinningfields and St Marys Gate.
Route 3 (Purple Route) Mon-Sat, 7am to 7pm - about every 10 minutes. Piccadilly Station to Portland Street, St Peters Square, Quay Street, Salford Central Station and then back via Spinningfields, Peter Street, Albert Square, Princess Street and Whitworth Street.
Full details and maps are on website below.
Public transport is well developed in Manchester. It is represented by trams (which is called Metrolink), double-deckers, and taxis. I didn’t use trams, only buses and taxis. Buses are operated by several companies, but the most popular one is Stagecoach (or Magicbus). I recommend you to buy weekly ticket of this company which costs 9.5 pounds (summer 2007). This will save your money. You can buy it from a driver and you must show ticket every time you get on bus. Several days a year some routes don’t work (for example, at the bank holidays). Moreover a quantity of buses dramatically decreases at the weekends. Therefore the only way to reach point of destination is taxi. Cabs are spacious and fast, but not cheap. Also I had heard about free buses, but didn't see them.
The Manchester Metro (tram) is good quick way of getting around Manchester. There is more than one line so check which tram you want before getting on it or you could end up lost. The trams can take you to many of Manchester big attractions such as the lancashire county cricket ground, manchester united stadium, salford quays for the lowery etc, trafford centre and so on. It is a cheap fast way of getting around although a return is the same price as a single which i suppose is a bit of a rip off. The trams have wheelchair access (all the ones I was on anyway).
If you are visiting Manchester and intend going to the City of Manchester Stadium (possibly for a Manchester City football match or maybe even a summer concert event), then if you're travelling from the city centre to the Stadium buses 216 and 217 from stand C in the Piccadilly Gardens Bus Station will take you right up to the stadium. Other buses from this stand also go past the stadium. Enjoy your visit!
There is a free bus service in the city centre of Manchester. Three routes will get you around all the major sights, railway stations and tram stops including Piccadilly station, the main bus station, and Victoria Station (for the MEN arena). The three lines are identified by the colours Orange, Green, and Purple (each line has one colour) They are low floor accessible busses, run with a frequency of 5-10 minutes. Two lines (Orange, Purple) start and end at Piccadilly and the Green line starts and ends at Victoria. See the website for all the stops and a map. The stops are signposted. We used the Green one to get back from the Science and Industry museum to St. Mary's Gate where we then took a regular city bus to where we were staying in Salford.
In 1992 Manchester opened the Metrolink light rail system, the first new tram system in Britain for decades. Now everyone from Birmingham to Croydon is following suit.
The trams are fast and clean but expensive and crowded during the rush hours. Avoid them between 8-9am and 5-6pm! Travelling before 9.30 weekday mornings means paying the peak fare. Its reliability lately has been atrocious lately, and frankly I was grateful for moving downtown so I can walk to work.
Currently the tram runs from central Manchester north to Bury, south to Altrincham and west to Eccles via the Quays. In the next couple years it should run to more suburbs like Oldham, Rochdale and past the Commonwealth Games stadium.
For 3.20 GBP, a MetroMax rover ticket gives you the freedom to travel the entire network after 9.30am weekdays and all day weekends. The new weekend MetroMax costs 5 GBP.
The tram is the best way of getting to Salford Quays. There are also shuttle bus services from Altrincham to the Dunham Massey manor and from Stretford to the Trafford Centre.
National Express coaches arrive at Manchester Central on Chorlton Street. You now sit in a warm, dry, brightly-lit, secure and fume-free waiting room! It makes a huge change from the dank, windswept corridors that used to be your first impression of Manchester.
The station is a block off the Piccadilly Gardens transport interchange, between Chinatown and the Gay Village. Above it is a multi-storey carpark.
We're going where the air is free....!
A free shuttle bus runs from the mainline Piccadilly train station. The Metroshuttle #1 loops every 5 minutes through Chinatown, down the posh shopping streets of King Street and Deansgate and into Piccadilly Gardens, where you have easy access to Market Street and the offbeat Northern Quarter.
The free Metroshuttle #2 connects Victoria, Oxford Road and Deansgate train stations.
The new Metroshuttle #3 route will take you from Salford Central station, through Spinningfields, past the Town Hall and to Piccadilly station.
One Piccadilly Gardens is home to the GMPTE travelshop that has public transport schedules and which also sells tickets and passes for buses and trams.
Buses coming into the city centre from the north congregate at the new tram/bus interchange at Shudehill between the Printworks and CIS tower. Most all other routes arrive and depart a few blocks further down around Piccadilly Gardens.
Unless you are staying in Fallowfield (where every bus seems to go!) or somewhere along it's route (such as Rusholme), or near a university, do take your time. Busses do have a time table, but often seem to be quite sporadic. Often the bus arrives 5 minutes before the schedualed time, but more often it arrives 10-15 minutes later.
On some routes there are only the one bus line, so bear this in mind.
When the bus does arrive though, the busses tend to be clean and well kept, and the prices aren't tooo bad.
Although we didn't need to use the trams(we used aour feet) they looked an efficient way to get across town and especially to more distant sites like the Salford docks. Also they connected well with Piccadily Station - the main station in Manchester. Tickets must be purchased before you get on board. Day tickets make good ecconomic sense if you want to hop on and off them throughout the day - current cost £3 I believe.
The red buses are very synonymous with London, I think, but when I saw this one in Machester, I had to take this shot. Manchester is very well serviced with road transport, thus it is very easy to move within the city, and also inter city.
On this occasion, I decided to walk from the train station to my hotel which was about a fifteen minutes trecking...in order to have a good feel of Preston especially at night.
However, these busses were available all the time for you to move around the town.
GETTING TO OR AROUND MANCHESTER IS AS EASY AS ANYTHING.BUSES FROM DIFFERENT COMPANIES RUN ALL AROUND MANCHESTER BUT WELL ORGNISED & EASY SERVICE IS "FIRST". YOU CAN BUY A DAYSAVER WHICH ONLY COST ?2.70 AND YOU CAN TRAVEL UNLIMITED ALL AROUND MANCHESTER.FROM MOST STOPS YOU CAN GET A BUS AFTER EVERY 10 MINTUES TO YOUR DESTINATION.MOST OF THE BUSES THAT COME FROM DIFFERENT TOWNS GO TO PICCADALY STATION WHICJH IS IN THE HEART OF THE CITY CENTRE AND THE MAIN SHOPPING CENTRE"ARNDALE"IS ONLY FEW STEPS AWAY FROM THERE.
The return of trams to Manchester was once sneered at, but the system has been so successful that further expansion has taken place and will continue to do so. It has been copied elsewhere, like Sheffield and Croydon. Handy for getting round the City centre streets, and faster than the local trains were on the rail lines, it serves Old Trafford either side of the football ground, (one stops right by the Cricket ground) and will soon be linked to the City of Manchester Stadium too.
Liverpool City council recently announced plans for their own system which would be built at a fraction of the cost of Manchester's. Councillor Bazza Sinbad explained "We're going to use traditional Merseyside skills and ingenuity to obtain substantial cost savings on the trams - we're going over to Manchester to nick theirs."