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Feature

Is Wilmslow Road really the busiest bus route in Europe?

We’ve all heard the stories…

Alex Watson

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Wilmslow Road is often claimed to be the busiest bus route in Europe, but is it actually?

The Wilmslow Road bus corridor is the 5.5-mile long stretch we’ve all ventured on for one reason or another, which takes you from Piccadilly Gardens all the way to Parrs Wood.

It’s the bus route you don’t even need to look at the bus timetable for, because you know by the time you’ve taken your hood down as your shelter from the rain under the bus stop, one will be pulling in and leading you on your merry way to a house party in south Manny somewhere.

However, there is, I’m told, a bus on average every minute in each direction during university term time. And the stretch between RNCM and Oxford Road Station has a bus every 30 seconds in each direction.

Stagecoach in Manchester 17641 W641 RND Not in Service on Wilsmlow Road, Rusholme

Currently, two bus companies compete in giving the public the exact same service; Stagecoach Manchester (this includes our friend the wizard, Magic Bus) and First Greater Manchester.

They both quite literally run the exact same route but everyone knows the cheapest is the bright blue buses with a wizard printed on the side, which will get you all the way back for just a quid.

It’s this fact though – the one about the route, not the £1 bargain – that caused the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport to be told in 2006 that Wilmslow Road corridor was utter ‘chaos’.

So how did things get just so utterly chaotic?

Mikey/Flickr

Like a lot of things, we can look to Margaret Thatcher’s government. The deregulation of buses in 1986 meant bus services could run wherever and whenever they wanted.

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive ran most of the bus services on this route prior to this. In 1986, this became GM Buses.

Shortly after, competitor Finglands Coachways saw a market for cheap public transport to cater for all those pesky students. Word spread quickly and before you knew there were four bus choices; with Wall’s and Bullocks coming into the mix.

By 1996, Stagecoach bought GM Buses and introduced the Ryanair of bus services, the Magic Bus.

The market got competitive and prices just kept on getting lower and lower. In 2001, Finglands were offering a student weekly ticket for just TWO pounds. I don’t even think you can get an ice cream for two quid anymore.

Stagecoach monopolised further, buying Bullocks in 2008 and by 2013, First Greater Manchester purchased Finglands.

Now we’ve had a brief history lesson in the bus market of Manchester let’s get back to the case at hand. Is it really the busiest bus route in Europe?

Well, we don’t know. And unfortunately, there’s no real way of finding out.

First of all, no one has defined the word ‘busy’ so we don’t actually know just how many buses qualifies as the ‘busiest’ bus route.

Secondly, the timetables just aren’t reliable enough meaning we can’t actually compare it to anything else. The buses on Wilmslow Road just fly around the route as fast as they possibly can. I’m assuming when they all get back to the depot at night, compete on how many times they did it that day in a weird little bus route tourney.

And finally, different points in the day, such as rush hour, and year, such as term time, are busier than 1 in the afternoon on a Sunday, for example.

We simply don’t know if it’s the busiest route. One things for sure though, it’s got the best characters and best stories.

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Feature

The driving habits we think are illegal but are actually myths

You actually can drive in flip flops…

Alex Watson

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Toyota UK/Flickr

From wearing flip flops to honking your horn, which are driving myths and which are actually illegal?!

There’s nothing quite like the freedom of passing your driving test, getting your first car and feeling like you know everything and can go everywhere.  

But some driving myths have stuck with us from even before we took our first lesson, despite what any teacher might say. Like keeping the interior light on while driving – we all still avoid doing it for fear of being pulled over.

Others we all do without second-guessing the fact it could be illegal, like letting your dog have a wee on the motorway!

How many others are there that we’re still too scared to do or should definitely stop doing now?!

A recent survey asked 2,000 UK drivers what they thought was actually the truth or a myth, and it turns out the vast majority of us don’t know legal fact from fiction when it comes to the Highway Code. 

Firstly let’s kick off with leaving the interior light on while driving. While your mum and dad probably shouted at you for turning it on when you lost your football stickers down the side of the seat, it’s not actually even mentioned in the Highway Code. 

46% of people surveyed thought it was though, so you’re not alone if you thought it too! 

Next, footwear. 

Most people – 75% – think it is illegal to drive in flip flops and while it definitely isn’t advised – and could leave you with a hefty fine and nine points on your license – it isn’t actually illegal in itself. 

As long as you can control your car in the correct manner, it’s not illegal. 

The same goes for driving barefoot or in heels. 

But if you have a crash, or you are stopped for driving without due care and attention – also called careless driving – you could be lumped with a £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points on your license if your footwear is deemed the problem.

There are a lot of other things we all do every day that are actually illegal. Like flashing your lights to give someone way, pulling over to check your phone or map and keeping your engine running or letting your dog out for a wee on the hard shoulder (even if you’re broken down!).

You’re also not allowed to sleep in your car while drunk, move into a bus lane to let an ambulance through or pay on your phone on Apple Pay at a drive-thru.

It’s bad news for those with road rage too, it’s actually illegal to beep your horn at someone angrily.

Despite all that though, the survey showed 95% of us flash our lights to let people through and 79% beep their horn due to anger.

Phil Morgan, head of findandfundmycar.com, which commissioned the survey, said: “Nobody wants to have to pay a hefty fine for something that they didn’t know was going to cost them, so it’s best to know these sooner rather than later.”

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Feature

Explore the abandoned Camelot theme park in these haunting photos

It could be a massive housing estate.

Alex Watson

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@pollyann27 / Instagram

Research shows that nearly £800m of unlocked property potential sits inside the abandoned Camelot theme park site.

Set over 140 acres, research suggests the area that was once Camelot could hold 6,294 properties with an average price of £126,000.

This equates to £793,016,000 of potential property value if a scheme could be arranged. 

However, the building of well over 6,000 properties is a huge scale production, unlikely ever to get approval – but there clearly a lot of potential for the area that just sits abandoned. 

Camelot Theme Park
Adele/Flickr

The research by togethermoney.com into derelict properties includes the Chorley based Camelot theme park in a list of similar abandoned properties all over the world, including Germany, China, Japan and even Namibia. 

The research states: “Inspired by the legend of Camelot, the UK theme park located three miles from Chorley opened its doors in 1983 and operated until November 2012 when due to declining visitor numbers the park closed for good.

“Whilst certain rollercoasters were sold to theme parks around Europe, many of the rides remain abandoned seven years later. ‘Urban explorers’, whilst warned off the site, are regularly found walking the tracks of the decaying rollercoasters, avoiding the 24/7 security that roam the perimeter.

“Several planning applications for housing estates have been submitted and subsequently rejected by Chorley Council, the most recent in March 2018.”

Camelot has been abandoned for years now, collecting dust and looking seriously creepy.

You can explore the park in these haunting photos:

camelot theme park 025
Scrappy nw/Flickr
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR

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Feature

Northern accents are all starting to sound the same, new study finds

This is weird!

Alex Watson

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David Dixon/Geograph

A new study at the University of Manchester shows that all Northern accents are beginning to sound the same.

Linguistics expert Dr Patrycja Strycharczuk and colleagues from the university have suggested that accents from the North of England are beginning to blend into one.

The study set out to uncover whether there was such a thing as ‘General Northern English’, something they have called the general accent spoken by the middle-class folk of the North.

Dr Strycharczuk said: “I often hear statements like ‘I’m from Liverpool / Manchester / Sheffield, but I don’t have the accent’ – however, there is very little systematic evidence that General Northern English really is a coherent variety, so that’s the question we asked ourselves.”

The study examined the accents of people from Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and more with the results struggling to find a difference between the accents, only finding that those from Liverpool and Newcastle have a more distinct accent.

The study also found that much of the traditional dialect isn’t present anymore, but typical characteristics of a general Northern accent are retained such as shortening words like ‘bath’ and ‘glass’.

Dr Strycharczuk added: “It may seem as though local accents are dying out, but we believe we’re actually seeing a new variety becoming established – educated, urban and northern.

“I think its prestige has increased, and people are now less tempted to lose their accent if they’ve been to university or they do a lot of public speaking.”

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