Fares Unfair 2013: Rail, Tram and Bus Fares and Private Car Costs Compared

For everybody reading this post on East of the M60, a Happy New Year. If you’ve renewed your rail or tram season ticket, it may be worth getting your mortgage sorted out (but not until you’ve read this).

Twin Squeaks on Platform 1, Preston railway station
Meanwhile in Preston, an extra 4-5% on last year’s fares still get you one of these Leyland National derived railbuses. Sad but true.

Along with the usual stories from the Public Records Office, the announcement of rail fare rises has become an annual event on this septic isle. As usual, mid-market newspapers complain about the effects of a 5 – 10% increase on season tickets. Each year, they forget that bus fares rise by a similar amount or more outside London and Northern Ireland.

Unlike rail season tickets, 10 – 15% increases in single bus fares barely make a sentence, let alone the Leader Comment. They might make the local press and attract the ire of letter writers throughout the UK. In the bus industry, there doesn’t seem to be as much of an internal market compared with our railways. The overheads of our railway network include a multiplicity of things other than the profit and loss of its services. These also include:

  • The cost of hiring rolling stock: most rail franchises lease their trains from banks. Some, like First/Keolis Transpennine Express own their rolling stock;
  • Preserving a national ticketing network: one body, the Rail Settlement Plan, makes all the complex calculations as to which franchisee(s) or Open Access operators get a cut from a given journey;
  • The maintenance of stations and infrastructure: your rail operator pays Network Rail x amount for the right to use your tracks, viaducts, tunnels, signalling, etc;
  • Making a few lawyers pretty fat: case in point, the recent hullabaloo regarding FirstGroup and Virgin over the West Coast Main Line franchise;
  • Labour costs: in addition to the rail operators’ and Network Rail employed staff, this also include subcontractors. Yes, your System One CountyCard goes some way to making sure G4S man the barriers at Manchester Piccadilly or Victoria railway stations.

Money well spent? If it means enhanced information at all stations, being able to check the train times on your computer or mobile device, then ‘yes’. Does the money make for a more reliable service? That cannot always be guaranteed, but the average rail passenger would seethe if his or her recently risen season ticket pays for a squeezed to high heaven 2-car Pacer unit (and believe me, as a one-time regular commuter, I have seen more than enough in my time).

It is claimed that the rises will fund infrastructural improvements. True, but shifting the burden directly to rail users is anathema to the pluralist notion of greater funding through direct taxation. In the last decade – even under the last Labour Government – the burden has shifted to rail passengers, based on the premise that non-rail users are reluctant to subsidise their rail using fellows. Supposing we took a similar attitude to motorists (i.e. motorway tolls, congestion charging, high parking rates), there would be an outcry the size of St. Petersburg, backed by the car-loving popular press.

As a public transport user myself, I am happy with recent improvements to date at Stalybridge railway station. Ditto the above with the new buses on the 409, 419, 41 and 219 routes and the Metrolink extensions. Even so, there is room for improvement: Northern Rail could do with some brand new trains for a start, and ticket office hours should be maintained at present levels or improved upon.

It is said that the original British Rail saw more affordable trains and more reliable services. Amid the rose tinted spectacles, it is conveniently forgotten that Greater Manchester’s local passengers didn’t do too well under BR till the mid to late-1980s. For a start, the Huddersfield – Manchester Victoria all stations service – now one of the Greater Manchester City Area’s most busiest routes – was only available in peak hours till 1991 (only Stalybridge had an all day service between Victoria, Piccadilly from 1989, and Huddersfield and the rest of Yorkshire). By the end of the 1980s, a great many local services were operated by ‘Heritage DMUs’ – some of which compensating for broken down Pacer units.

Is the above any wonder why GMPTE wanted to plug away with light rail, resulting in today’s Metrolink services? Another inconvenient truth. Pre-Metrolink, the Bury – Manchester Victoria service only had an half hourly frequency, operated by 2 or 4 car third rail electric trains. Yet we moan, justifiably so or otherwise. Ask yourself: how much is a decent and secure parking space per day in Central Manchester?

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Summary: Rail and Tram Fare Rises in Greater Manchester:

  • Metrolink: 4.2% average;
  • First/Keolis Transpennine Express, Northern Rail: 4.2% increase on ordinary fares.

The average rise on the Metrolink is consistent with National Rail’s regulated fares. Even so, some fares rose higher than average, to allow for a simplification in fare stages. On the other side of the Pennines, passengers within the Metro West Yorkshire boundary saw an increase of 6.2%. It is also worth noting that some off-peak fares rose by a greater margin than the 4.2% cap used on regulated fares.

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Let’s Compare, Our Unfair Fares…

For the purpose of this section, I will cover four journeys (short distance refers to any journey 10 miles or less):

  • A short distance cross-boundary journey (Littleborough – Walsden);
  • A short distance journey within the TfGM boundary (Gorton – Manchester);
  • A medium distance cross-boundary journey (Huddersfield – Stalybridge, 17.75 – 20 miles);
  • A medium distance journey within the TfGM boundary (Manchester – Altrincham, 9.5 – 12 miles).

I shall compare all journeys with the price of the equivalent journey by car. Where applicable, with other methods of public transport.

For my car, I shall use a 2008 Ford Ka as my example. The supermini hatchback has a very reasonable 45 mpg fuel consumption and 1.3 litre engine, which is a good option if you happen to be the sole driver. The petrol price used to measure that option is 130p per litre, which at this moment is the latest forecourt price from Stalybridge’s TESCO filling station.

1. Littleborough – Walsden:

The journey between the above points is only 4 miles long, but what a scenic 4 miles it is! Owing to the local geology, there is little difference between road and rail journey times in good conditions as road, rail and canal are hemmed in the same valley.

  • Bus: 589/590 routes, £4.60, First West Yorkshire FirstDay (or £3.70, Huddersfield – Calderdale FirstDay, off-peak);
  • Car: 54p (£1.08 return);
  • Taxi: £8.40 (£16.80 return);
  • Train: £3.40 (£3.10, off-peak return).

The bus not only compares well with the rail fare, but also offers the passenger a wealth of other journey options beyond Walsden making it a cheaper though slower option. Besides making a modest saving on two single fares, he or she can continue towards Leeds, Bradford (first two places on full FirstDay West Yorkshire ticket) and Holmfirth as well as Halifax.

If your sole journey is between Littleborough and Walsden, those fringe benefits may be lost on you, as the car is a cheaper option at a piffling return journey of £1.08 (great if you’re heading off to the Gordon Rigg Garden Centre for the carriage of bulky goods). Only walking is cheaper – even with bottle of water purchased from the Co-op in Littleborough.

If you wish to splash the cash, the equivalent taxi fare is £16.80 return. In spite of this, the carriage of four persons there and back is only a little dearer than equivalent bus and train fares.

2. Gorton – Manchester:

Gorton is well connected by local buses, either by the 219/220/221 on Ashton Old Road in nearby Openshaw, or the 201/203 – 207 routes along Hyde Road. Theoretically, the journey to Manchester by road should be quite nippy, but peak hour traffic – and bottlenecks caused by the town’s TESCO Extra store even outside peak hours – makes for zombie style journey times. Luckily, Gortonians also have the joys of a half hourly train service from Hadfield or Ashburys. Or hourly trains from Belle Vue.

  • Bus: £3.90 (Stagecoach Manchester DayRider ticket);
  • Car: 59p (£1.18 return);
  • Taxi: £10.25 (£20.50 return);
  • Train: £3.10 return (or £1.80, off-peak return, 90p Evening Return);

As with the First West Yorkshire ticket, Stagecoach Manchester’s DayRider ticket is best enjoyed over a wider area than a modest journey. Even so, the £3.90 price tag still makes for a modest saving on two single adult fares on the short return journey.

Far and away, the car offers the cheapest journey, but an almighty sting in the tail hits our motorist by means of Manchester’s high parking rates. Long stay rate at a National Car Parks multi storey is around £15.00. You can get a Manchester Megarider for less than that on the 201 – and get a week’s travel aboard all Stagecoach Manchester routes from Glossop to Partington.

By train, the £3.10 return is cheaper than two singles aboard Stagecoach’s routes, making that a better option for occasional travellers. As for the £1.80 return, very good indeed, and even better still at 90p for an Evening Return (cheaper than the car!).

The taxi is our most expensive option, particularly if you’re the sole passenger at £10.25 one way. Again, a good option if there’s four in the taxi, though nowhere near as good value as the local train services.

3. Huddersfield  – Stalybridge:

Over such a modest distance, the journey from Huddersfield to Stalybridge by rail doesn’t come cheap at all, but its twice hourly frequency is superior to some local bus services within the town centre. Much of the expense is due to an unsubsidised section between Greenfield and Marsden. As a consequence, the rail fare between the two points is expensive enough to make a taxi, shared with three other passengers, a more viable alternative.

  • Bus: £4.50 (FirstDay ticket);
  • Car: £2.65 one way (£5.30 return);
  • Train: £12.10 (or £10.60, off-peak return);

For speed, the bus is a non-starter, unless you can synchronise your times well enough, or decide to break your journey at a desirable pub en route. Using this mode warrants catching the 353 or 354 to Stalybridge town centre from Uppermill, after changing at The Commercial Hotel stop for the 184 from Huddersfield. Whereas the 353/354 operate a full time service, there are no 184s to and from Huddersfield after 6pm.

The second longest journey time is by car. In optimum conditions, the journey should take 42 minutes. It is – though a bit risky in winter weather – the cheapest option at £5.30 return. Supposing we want to use a car park in Stalybridge town centre for four hours, it’s either another £3.50, free at the railway station (if you’re lucky!), or TESCO (two hours or less).

4. Manchester – Altrincham:

Altrincham is probably one of Greater Manchester’s best connected towns with three modes of public transport at one’s disposal. Besides the tram, there is also a hourly service to Chester via Knutsford and Northwich, or Stockport in the opposite direction. A more leisurely option, in terms of the 16, 18 and 263 bus routes are also available (butties or a good digital device may be required).

  • Bus: £4.20 (Arriva North West 16/263 services, Manchester Day Saver ticket) or £5.00 (System One Any Bus Day Saver);
  • Car: £1.42 (£2.84 return);
  • Train: £6.10 return (or £3.80, off-peak return);
  • Tram: £6.20 return.

Once again, the car came out as the cheapest mode of transport to Altrincham. Car parking starts from 10p for an hour’s parking on Oakfield Road or Regent Road. However, long stay parking for over 6 hours (akin to a typical full time work day) is £6.00. Therefore on that note, the cheapest way from Manchester to Altrincham, if you work full time (and not the proud owner of a company space), is on Arriva’s 263 service. If speed matters, the train or tram are equally viable – and more so after 0930 on weekdays, or all day weekends and bank holidays.

The 263 may be frequent, but it’s a slower option, taking 50 – 70 minutes to get to Altrincham. On public transport, it has the cheapest peak hour fare, with the difference between buying a Metrolink ticket and Arriva’s Manchester Day Saver equal enough to the price of a sausage barm.

Rail users can make a dramatic saving by choosing the 1017 train from Manchester Piccadilly, with a generous discount on the peak hour return fare of £6.10.

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Endword: Is The Car Really As Cheap As We Think?

It is quite lazy to see the car as a cheap option. When we see it as a cheap option, we think of the petrol prices, but disregard the other costs of car ownership. With petrol prices fluctuating faster than a reality TV show member’s dance moves, on ice or sprung floor, it seems as if some people have taken notice. As a consequence, they are right to criticise recent fare rises. Motorists feel they are being hammered by fuel prices: very true in some respects, but hardly the full picture till parking rates, insurance premiums and depreciation are considered.

A lot of noises regarding fare increases seem to have come from the London-centric press. Their [heavy rail] fares aren’t subsidised like the North of England’s fares (franchisees pay HM Government for the rights to operate instead of subsidise them); heavy usage makes for a more profitable area with consequent newer rolling stock. Therefore, whereas South East England commuters’ trains can be viable on their own, rail users – particularly on local non-intercity services outside the former BR Network Southeast region – need their subsidies, based on the maintenance of local transport links. In other words, Barbara Castle’s ‘Social Railway’ in practice.

It is through the former Labour Transport Minister’s guidance we saw the formation of PTEs (and of course in our area, today’s Transport for Greater Manchester) – again, ensuring the retention of much needed urban links. Which is why off-peak fares in the PTE areas for travel within its area are not only cheaper than single fares on local bus routes, but also – some cases, particularly with TfGM’s Evening Returns – cheaper than the car. It is also cheaper in the long run with season tickets, not only National Rail’s own products, but also PTE area tickets like System One’s CountyCard or Metro West Yorkshire’s Metrocard.

In Greater Manchester, motorists make use of free parking facilities at most of its rail and tram stations (Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria and Stockport are exceptions to this rule). This acts as a subsidy, but it is a much better sight than charging parking rates and seeing more cars on Ashton Old Road or Hyde Road.

Perhaps the local and national press should have seen the full picture before mouthing off. There is a case for cheaper rail fares, but there’s a greater case for cheaper public transport overall, one that is properly subsidised throughout the United Kingdom. One which doesn’t offer penalties for changing between modes, and a properly regulated one with a mix of privately owned and publicly owned operators.

Websites used:

  • Bus Fares: First West Yorkshire, Stagecoach Manchester and Arriva North West;
  • Train Fares: National Rail;
  • Taxi Fares: www.yourtaximeter.com;
  • Ford Ka information: Parkers’ Guide, http://www.fuel-economy.co.uk.

Other Sources:

  • TESCO, Stalybridge: petrol filling station totem, seen from 343 bus (02/01/2013).

S.V., 02 January 2012.

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18 thoughts on “Fares Unfair 2013: Rail, Tram and Bus Fares and Private Car Costs Compared

Add yours

    1. Hi Ady,

      Many thanks for your comment. The annual fare rise stories had got on my wick for some time, hence my latest cost comparison article.

      In the UK, public transport tends to be a cheaper option if you happen to be single and live in an urban area where buses, trains, tubes and trams are plentiful. Anywhere outside of Greater London, it is cheaper for families to have a car if two or more people use the same vehicle and pool their journeys. In rural – and some urban – areas, the car is a necessity, either for the whole journey, or towards another part of their journey using public transport.

      As a companion to this article, I shall consider a follow-up one on how the fare rises affect families instead of individuals. Doing so will ‘complete the picture’.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

  1. Trust me as a regular car user (who does not have the luxury or choice of using PT for work purposes) I prefer PT over the wretched curse of driving. As you state Stuart, people whinge about PT costs but never think about the additional costs of driving.
    Just renewed my car insurance in the last hour, £910 cheapest quote, £5k was the dearest quote and that was for a Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 no modifications etc. average 10,000 miles.
    Service last month cost me near on £500 (mainly suspension issues due to the scourge of speed bumps and pot holes everywhere) and then it’s on average £250 per month in petrol on just commuting, not including any excursions (not been on one in the car for amount 2 years now).
    So lets call it roughly £3000 just on fuel alone. I could buy TWO System One Annual County Card travel tickets for that price and still have £910 left. So adding insurance, service, VEHICLE EXCISE DUTY (NOT called Road Tax), MOT I am looking at roughly £5-6k for the next 12 months.

    So is PT cheaper over driving? Yes!

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      1. Hi Trystan,

        Your comments further explain my reluctance to continue driving lessons, not least while I live and work in Greater Manchester (or if I move to another urban area with equally good public transport). The price you pay per month for petrol would pay for two monthly System One CountyCards, and still leave change for the odd Metrolink or taxi journey.

        Thanks to the internet, there are now a lot of things which non-car owners can do, which was originally the preserve of motorists. We don’t need to drive to our favourite superstore for The Big Shop: we can either order it online and – if you’re lucky enough to live near a superstore – use public transport and carry it back home in a taxi. The latter option even better if the taxi fare is less than online shopping delivery rates. Likewise with bulky items.

        £5 – 6k a year, my word! How many BusCards would that pay for?

        Bye for now,

        Stuart.

        Like

  2. A fantastic article as always, really great reading. Just a little note, I have just checked the times for 184 from Huddersfield to Manchester on First (West Yorks) website, the last one leaves Hudds at 7:30, later than you stated! I wanted to find out as on 25th January I shall arrive in Huddersfield after a trip to London, my return travel being using the MegaBusPlus service for the first time, which consists of a train from St. Pancras to the new East Midlands Parkway station, then a coach from there to Huddersfield! This has cost me £1.25 (travelling with a friend), absolutely astonishing for around 200 miles! So I was working out the cheapest way to get back to Manchester from Hudds as we arrive at 5:45PM and I don’t mind putting up with the slowness of the 184 for the good price! Thought there’d be a cheap evening return but seems they’ve stopped doing them from a lot of stations now?

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  3. PS – to get to London on the 22nd January, I got a £3 single from Manchester to Sheffield on East Mids Trains and £1.25 Megatrain Sheffield to London on the standard East Coast line (I think, the nationalised one?). Dave

    Like

    1. Hi Dave,

      You got a great deal with your journey – it probably didn’t cost that much to go to London in the 1950s! Or that much in the mid 1970s if you count your FirstDay ticket. Though convoluted, I do like the look of that itinerary – not least the joys of the Midland Main Line, a different station, and – for future journeys – a cheaper way of getting to mainland Europe without having to faff about on the Tube.

      The 184 between Greenfield and Huddersfield (via Uppermill) is the most scenic section of the route. Particularly so between Diggle and Marsden. If possible, try to bag the front seat on the left hand side (best position on the Enviro400 double deckers which form the mainstay of this route). Thanks also for the correction regarding last 184s on the full route.

      As for evening returns, I’ve only known them to be available on journeys within the TfGM boundary, and some journeys just outside. These include the whole Manchester Piccadilly – Buxton service, trains to Southport, and any train from Congleton into Greater Manchester. (Link to map: http://www.northernrail.org/pdfs/special_offers/GMeveningtravellermap.pdf)

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      P.S. East Midlands Trains’ Midland Main Line service, along with MegaBus and MegaTrain is owned by Stagecoach Holdings.

      Like

  4. Rail companies are still not providing services that the public want. For example, you cannot travel from Stalybridge or Blackpool by train in the early mornings, to Manchester Airport to check in, around 04.30, for one of the many early morning flight departures.
    Yes services on these routes are offered but not at required times. Co-ordinated transport…I think not.

    Like

    1. Hi Buspilot,

      Sad but true, though not the sole preserve of rail franchises. Also true of buses, light rail and the Scarborough Spa Cliff Lift. Imagine if somebody launched a minicab company which refused to work midnight to 6am? Their drivers would run out of money straight away, given the premium that period attracts them.

      And of course, times aren’t the only issue. Laissez faire planning and car-centric developments stymie potential improvements in service provision. Even now, retail parks (with the possible exception of Manchester Fort) and edge of town industrial estates tend to have, at best, mediocre public transport provision.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

  5. I agree the most scenic section of 184 is from Uppermill onwards to Huddersfield although not always due to varying weather conditions, I did the route just before Christmas on one of the Enviro 400s and it was scarily foggy over the tops, how the driver knew where he was going I dont know, another hazard to watch out for depending on the season is the kamikaze sheep that roam the land up there and wont and don’t think twice sometimes of wondering around in/around the roadside and sometimes in the road often just stopping and looking at traffic wondering what its doing there, the regular 184 drivers from Oldham Depot I think keep I careful look out for them and tend to slow down just on the off chance of sheep

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    1. Hi Andrew,

      I suppose the weather and visibility issues may explain why the 184 between Diggle and Huddersfield has no evening service. The 365 and 65 before then didn’t either, but another Huddersfield bound route (the 160 via Delph), prior to its demise in 1970 had a late evening departure. Then again, a few later Huddersfield journeys wouldn’t be a bad idea: how much is a taxi from Marsden to Uppermill compared with the bus?

      You are right about the kamikaze sheep. Somebody ought to train them to: 1) learn the Green Cross Code; or 2) as well as the former, encourage them to take up photography and snap a few Enviro400s. More seriously, reflectors would be a good idea for the woolly ones on the A62.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

  6. I think because of course there is a much loved and trustworthy train service there between Huddersfield and Greenfield in the evening, no matter the fares, people just use it if they really need to. Despite that however, perhaps something like Summer extensions on the 184 in the evenings would work? It is well known that the 184 weekend services (in particular Sundays) can be rammed on occasions in the Summer, even my last trip on a 184 past Diggle on a cold wet November afternoon saw about half a board which really is a brilliant capacity. In the Summer when it gets light later, perhaps a few extensions at say 7pm and 9pm would benefit any evening walkers? I’m sure there are plenty of them … This would of course also give Diggle residents an evening service (excluding the traditional 23:25 184 service to Oldham) following a series of unsuccessful attempts of evening 353/354 journeys.

    Like

    1. Hi Harry,

      Cannot fault your opinions on Saddleworth rail usage. Not only because the captive [public transport] market they have in the evenings, but also the journey time between Greenfield and Huddersfield. It is 30 minutes on the stopping service from Stalybridge to Huddersfield, the same journey time as the 354 from Stalybridge to Dobcross. By bus from Stalybridge to Huddersfield? At least three times the journey time by rail, including a change of bus at Uppermill.

      It is also encouraging to find healthy loads on the 184 from Huddersfield to Greenfield, with it being the cheaper option for adults on a tighter budget and pensioners using their free bus passes. I suppose it could support an evening service during summertime. However, there should be scope for extension till Christmas, mitigating problems passengers face when the Stalybridge – Huddersfield line is subject to its regular autumn engineering works.

      I think the uneven timetables of the 353/354 Dobcross, Diggle and Delph extensions didn’t help matters. Mimicking the daytime service’s extensions could have been more fruitful – again with similar frequency, though with the evening route between Ashton and Uppermill.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

  7. Excellent article, Stuart – specifically pointing out the never ending rantings of the rail and motoring lobbies (which have far more in common than they would have us believe) via their prejudiced friends in the Media, compared with the dignified, “stiff upper lip” of bus users (usually, NON-motorists) who, of course, have no Lobby to speak of – Well, not in GM anyway.

    Nevertheless, I have further observations:

    It is siginificant that rail fares are considerably cheaper than bus fares between Gorton and Manchester. Of all the route sections you quote, this route has by far the lowest car ownership levels and as of the 2001 Census, the Ardwick constituency – which admittedly includes a portion of the A6 (192 route) as well as Hyde Road, had the highest proportion of bus using commuters (almost 30%) in the whole of Northern England. How strange then that under TIF, Hyde Road corridor was one of the few that would have seen a CUT in bus services – which to some extent have been implemented, anyway.
    You also mention the Tesco Superstore as a cause of delays to buses through Gorton. True, though this is, it has now been eclipsed in the morning peak, especially by the Reddish Bridge cycle lane.

    As regards the rail side of the equation, I understand Northern Rail get far more subsidy per passenger than First TransPennine do, and because of the nature of their lines – the Marple line being a classic example – this fare subsidy poses a major threat to commercial bus services, especially the surviving evening ones.

    The other side of the equation is “what do passengers get in return”. Well, I think you’ve answered that question where Light Rail is concerned, notwithstanding the overall 1.4 billion public investment in the system. Heavy rail – you only need to look at seperate news stories, and again the Marple line illustrates just what a waste of carless tax-payers money Heavy rail is. Their appalling punctuality is not portrayed by the constant “On Time” messages on Piccadilly’s “real time information”, and they have got extra carriages simply by blocking seats with carrier bags, or worst of all on 3×2 trains, plonking down in the aisle seat, leaving the middle seat EMPTY. I have caught the 1803 tonight (the previous 6 departures all have appalling punctuality records), and with about 8 standing passengers, EVERY SINGLE middle seat was empty (about 28 in total).

    But what do bus passengers get for their bigger fare increases – eg. Hyde to Denton 121% increase since the Sept 2000 fuel protests? Less comfy buses – Being a stick insect, I can only sit on any of TEN downstairs seats (excluding those for the elderly or diabled) on Stagecoach’s standard Enviro 400 double deckers. The other 19 are unpadded, so I get spinal pain. And as illustrated above; Slower journey times. Typical morning peak hour speeds on Hyde Road corridor and the crossing 347 route are barely SEVEN mph, and off-peak journeys struggle to reach double figures through Gorton and Hyde to Denton (inbound, especially). And remember, irrespective of their quality, new buses are paid for by adult fare-paying passengers, not Tax-payers in general. Even the small Government contributions to Hybrid buses are eclipsed by the massive taxes the bus industry (ie. the CUSTOMER) pays. Fuel tax will increase by 74% between April 2012 and August 2013, and that compounds the increased fuel consumption caused by the appalling congestion mentioned above – caused by cars, commercial vehicles and anti-bus “traffic management”.

    Like

    1. Hi Phil,

      Well said, and in total agreement with all of the above! I had the joy of boarding a Sunday afternoon 201 and was blinded by the [lack of] speed between Denton and Ardwick. Yet my journey from Hyde to Piccadilly Gardens took 45 minutes – not quite as Zombie Style as the peak hour journeys though still slower than the 219 from Ashton to Manchester. Interestingly, the 217 from Dukinfield to Shudehill Interchange was faster than catching a 343 (from Dukinfield) then changing at Hyde for a 201 to Piccadilly.

      I too have noticed the habit of placing bags on train seats – all the more reprehensible where luggage racks and tables are available. On busy journeys, it is more polite to use the racks or the tables. On the traditional bus seated Pacers, it is quite easy to place your baggage under the seat.

      Warmly,

      Stuart.

      Like

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