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