Stagecoach Manchester now running two shuttle buses from Gorton and Longsight to Belle Vue Leisure Centre
Whether you think the pandemic is coming to an end or in the midst of a third wave, there are still plans to relax the government’s social distancing restrictions on the 19 July. In Greater Manchester, it is fair to say we are in the third wave, with most of the cases affecting schoolchildren and late-teens. Like last year, it is fair to say that the government’s latest easements could be too soon for the people in Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
Whether or not you see a sense of deja vu, there is no better time to be vaccinated. As well as having a young population, Manchester has one of the lowest vaccination rates in England. Apart from the age of its population, there could be a few other factors that may be affecting take-up rates.
One could be a belief that the vaccine is a form of mind control. Another could be one’s inability to get to the vaccination centre, especially as the cost of bus fares may be prohibitive. Or that the vaccination centre is a few bus rides away, taking three times as long as the journey by car or taxi.
On Saturday, with the help of Manchester City Council, Stagecoach Manchester has started operating shuttle buses from Gorton and Longsight to Belle Vue Leisure Centre. As with the Tennis Centre by the Etihad Stadium (where yours truly had his arm jabbed early this year), it is being used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre.
The first shuttle bus takes in Mount Road, Matthews Lane, Northmoor Road and Stanley Grove before reaching the leisure centre via Stockport Road and Kirkmanshulme Lane. It takes in part of the much missed 168 and 169 bus routes.
The second shuttle bus, which also serves Longsight, reaches Belle Vue via West Gorton, Ardwick and Plymouth Grove. Both routes are of a circular nature (full route description on the Manchester City Council website) and they will observe all bus stops along the way.
What’s more, it wouldn’t cost you a bean as both routes are absolutely free. All you need to do is show the driver your appointment card (or a screenshot of your appointment text message). Both routes are operating seven days a week from 9am to 9pm.
Vaccination Shuttle #1: Belle Vue – Gorton – Northmoor – Longsight
Vaccination Shuttle #2: Belle Vue – West Gorton – Ardwick – Plymouth Grove – Longsight
Stagecoach Manchester’s foray into providing vaccination shuttle buses isn’t a new thing. The Stagecoach Group’s operations in East Kent have ran a similar service from the Westwood Bus Hub to the former SAGA building off Haine Road in Ramsgate. There are similar operations in Ayr and Elgin.
Where Stagecoach Manchester’s shuttle varies from those in Ramsgate, Ayr and Elgin, is that they are self-contained local circular routes. Potentially they could be future bus routes, either as Town Services for Longsight or future short distance circular routes in the style of the [Ashton-under-Lyne – Denton – Haughton Green] 347, albeit extended to Piccadilly Gardens. Perhaps we could number each one of the routes as 193 and 198, as they could be sister routes to the 192 and 197.
S.V., 28 June 2021.