Public Transport – Not Always Easy!

October 1, 2009

First a quick apology as I haven’t blogged since my holiday.

In common with most of my friends and family, I pride myself on using public transport whenever possible. But I sometimes wish it could be easier.

My journey: The Trafford Centre to Manchester Piccadilly. I did my research. I knew that Metrolink is closed in the city centre and so doesn’t serve Piccadilly station directly. I knew that there was a frequent bus 250 direct from the Trafford Centre to Manchester Piccadilly.

I found the bus station at the Trafford Centre. IT has 15 nicely designed stands. It has a roof but is otherwise open to the elements. It does NOT have a simple list of destinations, the routes that serve them, and the stand where you catch those buses. So all you can do is walk down each stand and read the timetables. I found the 250 stand and the Metrolink shuttle stand. That was how I found that the 250 doesn’t serve Piccadilly Station – it goes to Piccadilly Gardens. Silly me? Hard to decide whether to use the 250 and make my own way to the station, or the shuttle service then tram then replacement bus to the station.

This decision was not made easier by the complete lack of real time information at the bus station. The 250 arrived very late, and at the same timer as the ML1 shuttle. I opted for the shuttle.

Next annoyance: the shuttle whisks you out of the Trafford Centre then several minutes later it serves another stop somewhere else around the centre. Then several minutes after that it serves a third stop. This might be convenient but it effectively doubles the journey time.

Next annoyance: get to Stretford to change to the tram. Would you believe there is no real time information on the tram station? I hope this is being rectified during the current renewals and expansion.

Next annoyance: the replacement bus is a few minutes walk from the tram stop at St. Peters Square. Not a particular hassle, but it was raining. The bus is supposed to be every 12 minutes. I waited 20.

Then I arrived at Piccadilly having just missed the London train. That was when I remembered the good news: London trains now run 3 times an hour, so I effectively got straight on the next train.

I know I am sounding like a grumpy old man, and maybe I am spoilt because I work in London where the bus information is superb. But even in my home town of Crawley most stops have real time information – I can even see how my bus is running using the internet before I leave home.

GMPTE has a reputation of operating a world class public transport system. But information is certainly lacking, and that detracts from the whole experience.


Favourite Places

August 5, 2009

I love cities and I love the countryside. These are some of my favourite cities:

London – of course. The greatest city in the world. The nicest and safest place to simply wander around. Superb architecture. Excellent culture. Great food. Friendly people. I could never stay away for long.

Bangkok- of course. I confess I am addicted. Its like diving into a maelstrom of traffic, people, smells and heat. Bangkok is vibrant and exciting. The best part is obviously the people – incredibly friendly and usually smiling. Its quite a safe city. The food is superb. I love the oases of cool and calm such as the many 5* hotels, the river, and the temples. I will always go back. A year away from Bangkok is a bad year.

Norwich – “A Fine City”. Relaxed, good food, compact, great culture. Good university!

Lisbon –  I have had several business trips there and I love the place.  Very friendly. Compact. Decent food. Stunning views. The most fun tram system in Europe. Brilliant fado music.

Birmingham – but I could equally say Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow, or Newcastle. The renaissance of the British city is an unnoticed success of the last 15 years, and one for which the government should take credit.

Also rans: Valencia, Prague, Singapore

Not placed:  Paris, Rome, Moscow


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