Like most UK cities, Manchester's bus services are provided by many different bus companies. Each company has its own fare charging system with daily, weekly and monthly tickets, some of which can only be used on that specific bus company's routes or selected routes provided by that specific bus company.
Locally based companies who have a tendency to charge cheaper fares include R Bullocks and Finglands but run on a limited number of routes (mainly serving southern suburbs).
National companies include First Buses and Stagecoach who tend to have slightly higher prices but run on numerous routes.
Each bus company will have its own daily or weekly ticket which will allow unlimited travel on that company's services (some provided scaled-down tickets which run on popular service areas like Wilmslow Road).
If you want to travel throughout the Greater Manchester area using buses from most of the bus companies, then a System 1 ticket is probably going to be your best option. The daily ticket costs GBP4.00 off peak or GBP4.50 peak (off peak is weekdays after 09:30 and weekends). The weekly ticket (which requires accompaniment of a photo ID card available free of charge from GMPTE Travel Shops) costs GBP17.00 - hence, if you're going to be travelling extensively for more than 3 days, a System 1 Weekly Bus ticket may be your best purchase. The System 1 day saver ticket for all buses can be purchased from the driver of any bus within the scheme.
Please note that System 1 travel tickets lasting more than one day are not available for purchase at Manchester Airport.
The metroshuttle is a FREE bus going around Manchester's city centre. There are three lines, each with their own colour, and it is very easy to identify the metroshuttle bus stops throughout the city - you just need to look out for the colour and number.
Busses of line 1 go from Piccadilly around the town centre and leave every six minutes
Busses of line 2 go from Oxford Road and Deansgate to Victoria, therefore connecting the three train stations north and south of the city centre, they leave every ten minutes
Busses of line 3 go from Piccadilly to Salford, providing a connection from the west to the east of the city centre, leaving every ten minutes
I only took the metroshuttle once, from Victoria to the town centre, but I must admit that I did not really like it - the bus was so crowded and very hot, and because of the traffic it only went very slow. I realized that walking would have been much quicker.
However, I think it is still great to provide a free bus service, especially for people who don't like walking or are not able to do it for a longer distance.
If you plan to visit any of the sights outside of the city centre, like Old Trafford, the Lowry, or Ordsall Hall, one way to go there is by bus.
I went to Old Trafford by Arriva Bus. The journey took about twenty minutes and it was very easy, the bus stops almost in front of the stadium. I had earlier asked for information in the traveline office at Piccadilly, and they had told me that it was possible to buy a day saver ticket for £3,70 which would be valid on all busses in Manchester. I bought that ticket.
After I had visited Old Trafford, I walked to Ordsall Hall, and then wanted to go back to the city, so I walked to the nearest bus stop. When the bus arrived, though, the driver told me that my ticket was not valid, as I had bought an Arriva Day Saver, and this was a First Bus, where the Arriva ticket was not valid. I had gotten something wrong, there is no day ticket valid on all busses in Manchester, you can only buy a day ticket for one bus company!!!
I was very tired and really wanted to go back, therefore I just bought a new ticket - but I thought it was very annoying.
I can only recommend that you really check your ticket and take care to buy the ticket you actually need, to avoid waisting money.
Otherwise I found the busses in Manchester quite easy to use and the drivers friendly, although sometimes it was not easy to find the right bus stop.
Piccadilly is something like the travel hub in the city centre, most busses start from here. It is a good place to look for information, as both the tourist information and the traveline office are located here. Ok, they did not make the thing with the day ticket clear enough, but they gave me the right information concerning which bus to take to Old Trafford, and also told me where exactly I had to catch it - this made my journey to the stadium much easier!
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.
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.
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!
The Manchester Metroshuttle is a FREE bus service that runs on three routes. It passes by most of the main attractions and links the cities railway stations, Metrolink tram stops, most bus stops and the main NCP car parks.
The service runs 0700 -1900 Mon - Sat Services 1+2 run 100-1800 on a Sunday too.
Each bus has low floor, easy access for wheelchairs, prams, and those with limited mobility
Service 1 (orange) runs every 5 minutes from PICCADILLY TRAIN STATION. This route covers Piccadilly Gardens, China Town, City Art Gallery, Designer Stores/Town Hall/ Albert Square (For the Christmas Markets etc), John Rylands Library, Spinningfields(Peoples History Museum, MANCAT, RBS Opera House and John Rylands Library), Deansgate, St Ann's Square, Arndale, Royal Exchange, New Cathedral St, Albert Square, Piccadilly Gardens,(YORK STREET BUS STATION, Chinatown, CENTRAL COACH STATION/ Gay Village, Universities and City College then PICCADILLY STATION
Service 2 (green) runs every 10 minutes from SHUDEHILL INTERCHANGE (Printworks and Arndale Centre) and covers VICTORIA STATION (MEN Arena), Chethams school of music, New Cathedral Street Designer Stores, Manchester Cathedral, Barton Arcade, St Ann's Square, John Ryland library/ Spinningfields RBS, AMC cinema, Gt Northern, G-Mex, MICC, Opera House, Castlefield Gallery, Deansgate Locks, DEANSGATE TRAIN STATION, MMU, BBC, OXFORD ROAD TRAIN STATION Corner House, Palace Theatre, The Green Room, Roman Fort, Castlefield Area, Museum of Science and Industry, Spinningfields (Granada TV,Opera House, MANCAT) King Street, Deansgate/ Barton Arcade, St Marys Gate, VICTORIA STATION and SHUDEHILL INTERCHANGE
Service 3 (purple) run every 10 minutes from Piccadilly to- Piccadilly Gardens, Central Coach Station/ Chinatown/City Art Gallery, Cube, Central Library/Library Theatre/ Palace Theatre/Corner House, G-Mexx/ MICC / AMC cinema/ Great Northern, Opera House, Spinningfields/ Granada TV/Museum of Science and Industry, MANCAT, SALFORD CENTRAL TRAIN STATION,Spinningfields (Peoples History Museum/ MANCAT, RBS/Opera House) G-Mexx/MICC/AMC Cinema/ Great Northern, Central library/ Library Theatre/ St Peters Square, Albert Square (Seasonal Speciality Markets), Town Hall, City/Art Gallery and Chinatown, CUBE/ Central bus Station /The Gay Village, Universities/ City College/ Palace Theatre and Piccadilly Station.
Maps are displayed at the bus stops and on the buses (pic 4). Or click onto Link for more info and map to download.
Our bus wasn't too busy, and the driver was quite helpful in offering directions to the various attractions. We were wanting the Central Library, to cut down to the Town Hall and Albert Square for our meeting point
Check out the useful website for upto date information on route/time changes. Route maps to download etc
The bus system is actually pretty good for getting around the Greater Manchester area. There are some areas that aren't as well served but overall getting into the city center and around shouldn't be too much of a problem. The trams/Metrolink are also great for getting around and avoiding traffic. You can buy day and weekly passes as well straight from the driver.
Now, one caveat: There are more than one bus company so if you get transfers or passes, make sure you find out what companies they are good for. A pass for one company may not be accepted by another. I think the tram is separate so you'll still have to pay for that if you have a bus day pass.
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.
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.
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.
The tram is a fast and efficient way of getting in and out of Manchester centre, if not actually around the centre (the centre is compact enough to walk most places).
The tram from the centre (St. Peter's) to Salford Quays (for the quays, war museum, Lowry etc) is 1.70 pounds for a single and 1.80 for a return, so you can see the saving that a return gives you.
There is one main line running from Bury to Altrincham and a spur line that runs off to Eccles, via Salford Quays. These trains are a bit less frequent than the Bury/Altrincham ones, but there's still one every 15 minutes or so.
For Old Trafford take the Altrincham direction. On match days the trams are very busy - as an alternative you can go to Salford Quays and walk across to the stadium - allow 20, 25 minutes for the walk.