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 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 the most popular routes are plied by an almost constant stream of these mechanical marvels. Although prices have been increasing at a rate which might see them qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, getting around is still fairly affordable. If you’re on a budget, look out for Finglands or Magic buses which will charge you £1.10 and £1.20 respectively for a short journey; a Stagecoach bus will run you £1.60, 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 £199, 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 Traveline 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.
Buses will also take you outside the centre / campus area, but if you’re going a long way it might be best to give the tram a try. The network is currently still in its infancy, but it’s useful for getting to certain parts of the city, although there’s no stop on campus – the nearest is in Piccadilly Gardens, where pretty much all of the buses into the city centre terminate. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hop onto one of the shiny new bright yellow trams, but the dingy old green and white ones will still get you where you want to go. Assuming that you want to go to Eccles, Altrincham, Bury, or Oldham that is; you’ll find a route map on the tram website at Metrolink or plastered onto the ticket machines at every stop (alongside the obligatory ‘buy a ticket or die’ warnings). If trams aren’t your thing, there’s 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, whilst the considerably less well looked after Victoria train station will take you further north. There is also a station on Oxford Road, and one on 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.