Tips for getting around Manchester from The Mancunion
So you’ve settled into your new halls, checked out the local drinking establishments, and loaded yourself up with enough free Domino’s vouchers to last the whole year (bad news: they’re only valid at certain times of the year, and he pizzas don’t freeze well), so now you’re thinking about straying outside of the campus area. You could of course walk, but who wants to do that?
For many students the most common destination away from main campus will be North campus, where such delights as the giant magnets statue and wooden vimto bottle are to be found. The easiest way there is via the 147 bus, which is free to anybody with a student card – just make sure to show it to the driver when you get on. You can flag down the 147 towards North campus at the bus stops outside the student union and opposite University Place; it comes through every 10 minutes and will drop you off right outside the Renold Building – number 8 on the campus map). It will even take you back after class from the same spot (on the other side of the road, obviously).
You can get pretty much anywhere else in Greater Manchester by bus too, and an almost constant stream of these mechanical marvels plies the most popular routes – one of the busiest bus routes in Europe. Although prices seem to love changing, usually increasing, getting around is still fairly affordable. If you’re on a budget, look out for Magic buses, which recently dropped to just £1 for any journey; a Stagecoach bus will run you £1.80, whereas First will take you the same distance for £2. If you’re going to be getting the bus a lot, which is particularly likely if you live in a house or halls off-campus, you can get a Unirider bus pass for £225 (price for 2013/14), which is valid on any Stagecoach or Magic bus in Manchester. You can pick one up at the Welcome Fair, or order it online – but make sure to check your bus route first! Get on to Transport for Greater Manchester and make sure that your first day won’t kick off with an argument because you’ve blown two hundred quid on the wrong ticket.
If you fancy fitness, or just want to save a few quid, you could join the growing masses of students who cycle. There are cycle lanes all over the city, including lanes running up and down the Oxford/Wilmslow Road corridor. You can find places to lock up your bike all over campus and if you’re keen on keeping your bike safe there are secure lock-ups dotted around the campus, including behind the Students’ Union building and in front of the Library. If you do choose to cycle beware of running any traffic lights – apart from the obvious danger, every few months the Greater Manchester Police setup shop on Oxford Road and slap anyone who runs a red with the option of a £50 fine or a mandatory cycle safety class.
If you’re going on a longer trip it might be worth giving the tram a try. The network has expanded in the last few years, and offers an easy way of getting to certain parts of the city. Unfortunately, there are no stops on campus – the nearest is Piccadilly Gardens, where pretty much all of the buses into the city centre terminate – but if you’re heading to north Manchester, Salford, or even from in town to Withington or Didsbury then trams are a good option. You can find a route map here on the Metrolink website as well as plastered onto the ticket machines at every stop (alongside the obligatory ‘buy a ticket or die’ warnings). If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hop onto one of the shiny new bright yellow trams, but don’t worry if you’re on an old green and white one it will still get you where you want to go. Although, if trams aren’t your thing, there is always the train. We are the proud owners of four train stations here in Manchester, the largest and nicest is Piccadilly, which sends out trains to the south and north, including the super-fast Virgin trains down to London, while Victoria train station will take you further north and to the surrounding area. There is also a station on Oxford Road next to the Student Castle tower, and one at Deansgate. Train times and information can be found at National Rail.
You can find more information about travel within Manchester on the Transport for Greater Manchester (formerly GMPTE) website, or pop into the Students’ Union where somebody will be more than happy to help you out.