Bus Stations from Hell: The Return

East of the M60’s reassessment of the Bus Stations from Hell of 2006

The Old Bus Station, Police Station and Multi Storey Car Park, Nelson
2006’s Bus Station From Hell: the former Nelson bus station, photographed by Robert Wade in 2010. (Creative Commons License – Some Rights Reserved-Non Commercial).

Apart from the obligatory “Hello, Good Evening, and Welcome to our New Blog” type of post, Bus Stations from Hell was the first proper post on East of the M60. Just to recap, here’s the Not So Magnificent Seven from the 16 August 2006.

  • Radcliffe (pre-2003 design);
  • Great Yarmouth (underneath the Market Gates Shopping Centre; dimly lit and user unfriendly);
  • Nelson (under the Arndale Centre car park);
  • Manchester, Chorlton Street Bus Station (Mark III, pre-2002 refurbishment; as above, under a car park);
  • Lancaster (PFI project; concourse too small for intense usage though operational sound);
  • Hednesford (ageing shelters and vandalism; lost potential; wrong side of the railway station);
  • Boston (too far from the town centre, featureless).

The 1984 version of Radcliffe bus station may have been operationally sound, but its shortcomings were the corrugated roofing material. In 2003, the Queensbury shelters gave way to JCDecaux cantilever structures. This time with two fewer stands.

Today, Radcliffe bus station is on a new site, formerly used by a car park. It has four stands on a single horseshoe-shaped platform and bespoke shelters. The former site which had served the people of Radcliffe well, 60 years before the new one opened last year, is vacant. There is enough room for a small supermarket or modest shopping centre.

Ten years on (thanks to the wonders of Google Maps’ Street View – unavailable in 2006), Great Yarmouth‘s bus station is as hideous as ever. The Market Gates Shopping Centre opened in 1975 – 41 years ago – with a multi storey car park straddling above the bus station. Though in a central position, its bus station is probably the last place you would like to visit on a dark night.

Also underneath a multi storey car park in 2006 was Nelson‘s bus station. This won the ‘accolade’ of The Bus Station From Hell in 2006. As well as being hellish for passengers, its car park was a local suicide hotspot.

Nelson Interchange (Bus Station) Lancashire
The present-day Nelson Interchange: thanks again to Robert Wade who photographed the then-new bus station in June 2009. (Creative Commons License – Some Rights Reserved-Non Commercial).

In 2009, the new Nelson Interchange was opened by Lancashire County Council and the Borough of Pendle. In a marked contrast to its predecessor, it is light, airy, and backs onto the viaduct of the railway line from Colne to Preston. With ten stands, access to Nelson railway station is gained through the terminal and its incumbent subway.

As for Manchester Chorlton Street Coach Station, the vacant part of the bus deck is still in use for car parking. In my opinion, still a waste of space which could be put to better use. Like another six coach stands or as a bar or restaurant.

I would say my opinion on Lancaster bus station remains valid today. Since 2006, there has been some changes to North Lancashire’s bus services, in the form of cuts to evening journeys. On that note, it is probably more suited to the rationalised network of today’s operations.

Since my August Bank Holiday visit to Hednesford in 2005, there has been considerable changes to the town’s bus station. Like, for instance, the lack of a bus station. Today, Hednesford bus station is a collection of four stands – two on either side of Victoria Road. There is no toilets, nor the Aquarius room (where yours truly had a pre-match chilli-con-carne). All that has been demolished for a TESCO superstore and a privately-owned gymnasium. Once again, the new bus stands are nowhere near the town’s railway station. Another missed opportunity.

Ten years on, we regret to inform you over the state of Boston bus station. Back then, we were none too impressed with its position from the town centre and its featureless nature. This time (thanks to the wonders of Google Maps), facilities have worsened. Whereas all eight stands had a shelter, only one retains a shelter. Nothing short of appalling for a town centre bus station. A town with 58,000 people. More than Ashton-under-Lyne and more than Altrincham.

Perhaps Boston’s effort should be crowned The Bus Station from Hell for 2016, losing considerable points on its lack of cover. This is the 21st century. We should expect to see real time information in principal bus stations – as well as timetable displays at each stop.

On the other hand, it is good to see that some of the bus stations have improved since then. Ultimately, bus users are still seen as second class citizens in terms of comfortable facilities and information dissemination. In areas with Integrated Transport Authorities or bodies like TfGM and TfL, they are luckier in that respect.

S.V., 16 August 2016.

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6 thoughts on “Bus Stations from Hell: The Return

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  1. Hello Stuart

    Another hellish bus station is Colne with it’s hidden out of the way location in what looks like a caved out corner, basic shelters shared with high street stops, no toilets and only the town centre, grubby at that, for food outlets.

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    1. Hi Leeds,

      A good shout for Colne bus station. I had the joy of passing it myself on Pennine Motor Services’ (Lord rest its soul!) 215 service to Skipton. That was December 2005, on the very same month I photographed Nelson Bus Station for the meme in my 2006 entry.

      It was exactly as you described it as well. Tucked away from the main street (a bit of a planning fail) and behind the market hall. It is similar in layout and position to Alfreton’s effort.

      I’m hoping to do another instalment of the Bus Stations from Hell series with some completely different entries. Some serious bus bashing needs to be in order.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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    1. Hi Dave,

      Today’s generation of bus users will be spared the nightmare of Talbot Road Bus Station. Though the late-1930s car park remains intact, the bus deck has been filled in with shop units. In 2009, National Express were its last users before their coaches transferred to the Blackpool Coach Station (which is on the site of Blackpool Central railway station).

      I remember it best in its 1993 state. Four platforms, each column being used as a bus stand – i.e, A1, B3 (!), and there being no raised paving to mark off the platforms. Nor crossings. It used to have a handy left luggage facility in its café – which came into its own when similar facilities were discontinued at Blackpool North station. Back then, I thought it was the grimmest bus station I had ever visited (and I had visited the last version of Chorlton Street Coach Station in 1987).

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  2. I’m surprised Preston isn’t on the list. Brutalist in every sense. I recently had the misfortune to visit it, and found it little more than a filthy version of the Manchester Velodrome; Yobs doing wheelies within feet of elderly bus passengers. Last I heard regarding is future, the sensible “not” burghers of Pround Preston are planning on turning one side of it into a “Yoof zone”. Apart from the fact that would automatically infer cuts in service (as more than half the stands are still in use), the real stupidity is that the bus station will be the FAR side from the city centre and shops (ie. the side mostly used by Stagecoach at the moment)

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    1. Hi Phil,

      I have a love-hate relationship with Preston bus station. Firstly I love the late-1960s look though it has – unsurprisingly for 47 years of heavy use – started to show its age. Operationally it works well for the buses, though could be better for its passengers.

      Cutting the capacity of stands for a Yoof Zone (with ‘youth’ spelt in the Janet Street-Porter vernacular) also demonstrates a lack of allowance for future passenger growth. The result would be more congested stands and delayed arrivals.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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