When Margaret Thatcher privatised bus services in 1986,
her aim was to encourage competition and consequently bring about
an improvement in service quality. In the beginning it seemed there
was a deterioration in service. Any Tom Dick or Harry, it seemed,
could go out, buy a bus and set up as a private operator - that's
what Ann Gloag did and look where it got her.
IN MANCHESTER: KEY FACTS:
well over 50 companies operating local bus services in Greater
Manchester - nearly 70 if you include school bus operators
passenger trips are made each year in Greater Manchester
ten bus stands in and around Piccadilly, plus another ten on Cannon
there are 312 bus movements per hour from Piccadilly
Greater Manchester cover 80 million miles per year, a quarter
of the way to the moon - that's 200,000 miles per day
to GMPTE for providing these figures
Recently, things have been improving. The private companies
have been ordering brand new buses designed to attract people to ride
has a whole fleet of Scottish-built Alexander double decker buses
and single deckers, well designed and worthy successors, I think,
to the best buses of old
recently introduced a very eye-catching articulated bus onto its
135 Bury-Manchester route. It's nice despite the sugary colour
North, previously known for their smoke-belching vehicles of early
eighties vintage have been introducing sleek, ergonomic new V-registered
double deckers on the high-capacity student route down Oxford
Rd and Wilmslow Road.
- who incidentally were never taken over by Selnec and GMT - have
also introduced futuristic new buses though in their more traditional
- with home I travelled to and from MANCAT Moston on refurbished
single-deckers, have now introduced brand new single and double
deckers in their attractive blue livery
based in Cheadle, have also stuck to a reassuringly traditional
livery of red and cream, and operate some attractively old-fashioned-looking
rear-engined double deckers on routes routes round Stockport and
So what of the future? The future is often, actually,
a return to the past, correcting the mistakes of the past.
Who, for instance, decided to get rid of trams -
Manchester's last tram made its final journey in 1949 before the return
of the Metrolink in 1992. And what forward-looking manager decided
that trolleybuses should be axed? I can just about remember seeing
them in Piccadilly - they were gone by 1962. Maybe if I'd been old
enough to comment, and had been saying "Keep the trams, keep
the trolleybuses" I would have been regarded as a crank, or a
trolleybuses - why can't we have them here?
But if you go to Salzburg, Austria, today, you'll see
trolleybuses in daily use, and most cities in central Europe have
tram systems much better than ours. For over 30 years, they've had
flat fare tickets for one journey via tram, bus or train, they have
cheap weekly and monthly tickets. They have more cars than we have,
but they use them less.
Where did we go wrong?
23 Nov 1999 13:03:56 +0100
From: Dominic Scaife <Dominic.Scaife@stud.uni-regensburg.de>
Subject: re: bus transport... Where did we go wrong?
As a regular user of the buses in Regensburg (Germany), I was
interested to read your report and views on the buses in Manchester.
I am convinced
that it would be an excellent thing to send the Manchester transport
here to read the rest of this message, with more pictures
We went wrong because of the short-sighted, ill-informed,
unimaginitive decisions of people in positions of authority who should
have known better, influenced by passing fashion and by those interested
in material gain at the expense of the common good.
Those bad decisions are still being made today, but
we, who have opinions on these things, should try and encourage lateral
thinking and greater public awareness.
So, to conclude, I've got a few suggestions which will
some will regard as impractical, backward-looking and downright silly:
Re-introduce the classic front-engined, rear-platform,
two-man British double decker bus, as still used in London. Re-tool
the factory and start manufacturing them again, keeping the best
points of the design, but using modern materials. Use these buses
to supplement one-man buses of more contemporary design, particularly
on high-volume routes.
Re-introduce bus conductors on as many routes
Re-introduce trolleybuses in Manchester, and
have them running through the new city centre and out into the suburbs.
Develop a powerful and attractive corporate identity
for public transport - the London Transport logo and ident, developed
in the 1920's and 30's, and the Smart Bus system on Merseyside,
are good examples. It should combine diversity with a unified message
of quality, reliability, good design, innovation and style.
Introduce a unified ticketing system, so you
can go from bus to train to tram on one journey, and use a low-price
monthly ticket to access the whole system.
Stop punishing car drivers - yes, it seems to
go against the fashion in this age of scapegoatism, however, penalising
the car-driving public through higher parking charges and draconian
parking policies won't improve public transport or reduce congestion.
Abolish road tax. Yes, even more of a contradiction,
but if, you then introduce congestion charging as a replacement
for road tax, people will have to pay more to drive their car on
high-demand roads, encouraging a switch to other transport methods,
while those in rural districts, who rely on their car, aren't penalised.
Borrow against future income from congestion
charging and use it to build a superb public transport now. Congestion
charging is part of Government policy, but not borrowing against
the future income it will bring.
Engage in a high profile PR campaign to promote
the new public transport system, but don't alienate the car driving
public. Here are a couple of ideas - they could also be used for
other forms of public transport:
From: Stuart Cunningham
Subject: Trams, Trolleys, and other nostalgia
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1999 08:09:24 -0600
As a boy I lived on Manchester Road, Denton. I used to think
of Crown Point, a few blocks to the East, as the center of the...
here to read the rest of this message, with more pictures
driving more - take the bus!
be a pleasure, but sitting in a traffic jam isn't much fun, so
if more of us take the bus, it will leave the roads clearer for
those who for various reasons have to use their car. Try it, you'll
be surprised at how comfortable, quick and affordable it's become
to travel by bus
the car if you need to, take the bus if you don't!
are divided into two types: those which can only be made by car,
and those which could be made by car or bus. If your journey falls
into the latter category, you may be surprised at how quick, convenient
and inexpensive travelling by bus has become. By taking the bus
you'll be helping to improve the flow of traffic, and you'll be
getting more exercise and reducing pollution too. So why not give
it a try.
Book: "Looking back at Buses, Trams and Trolley buses around
Manchester" by Ken Healey, published by Willow Publishing"
Shop: The Ian Allan bookshop, near the bottom of Piccadilly Station
Approach is an Aladdin's cave for bus and public transport enthusiasts,
even part times ones like me! They've got a fascinating selection
of books, many of local interest, with some tempting model buses
in the window, some in the local liveries past and present.
Museum: Museum of Transport on Boyle Street - it's at the top end
of the Queens Road bus depot, near the junction of Queens Road and
Cheetham Hill Road, Cheetham Hill. You can also visit the Bury Transport
museum, opposite the East Lancashire Railway, open on Sundays only.
Website: Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive: http://www.gmpte.gov.uk
There's also small but committed group of people who campaign on
public transport issues, they're the Greater Manchester Transport
Action Group, who have a section on the Civic Society website.
That's all from me - I'm off on the bus to have a look at the
new city centre, due to be opened officially next Wednesday evening.
It's a big improvement on what was there before, but I won't be joining
in the universal tone of self-congratulation, because... well, you'll
have to wait and see!
Greetings from a cold and clear Manchester on Thursday 18 November
1999, uploaded 4.19pm.
To: Aidan O'Rourke
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 02:22:38 -0800
In light of Prescotts' report, your views beg due consideration.
As you know on this subject, I am in total agreement. The new
M60 motorway being built will be grossly inadequate in 18 months.
Two lanes? A better example of short sightedness I have yet
to witness. The minimum I have discovered is three lanes plus
a carpool MOV lane (Multiple Occupancy Vehicle)
Here in L.A.
we have the space and the money. yet LA has its congestion problems.
We won that award again this year. Keep the cry for sanity going
on Aidan, you are not alone.
Ihor Los Angeles