The ‘Wilmslow Corridor’ is one of the busiest bus routes in Europe, serving the massive student communities of Rusholme, Fallowfield and Withington.
Stagecoach, the main operator of this route, is well known for its ‘Magic Bus’ services, with students able to pay a reduced single-ticket price of £1.50 or a yearly bus pass costing £265.
In normal circumstances, students do not hesitate to use the bus to get to and from university. Services tend to be busy throughout the day, and it’s not unusual to see students crammed onto double-deckers with standing room only.
But with the start of the university term coming up, students have spoken to The Mancunion about their worries using bus travel in the coming term due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All lectures have been moved online and only limited face-to-face teaching will take place on campus, but students have still expressed concerns about over-crowding and questioned if there will be enough buses to cope with demand.
Stagecoach insists that it is bringing forward “a range of measures” of help staff and students feel safe, including daily deep cleans and a greater number of services.
The provider has also launched a ‘busy bus’ feature to the Stagecoach app, which can be used to help students plan journeys at quieter times of the day.
Jasmine Taylor, a master’s student at Manchester, told The Mancunion it was the prospect of buses being too full that she was most fearful of.
She said: “As a disabled student, I am reliant on buses, the return of students and the overcrowding of buses is frankly terrifying for me.”
Megan Holtmeyer Cole, a second-year student Linguistics and German student, added: “It makes me quite anxious every time I get on – I’m just hoping that there are enough buses to cope.”
Megan also said she hoped some students and the public would change their mode of transport so it was possible to keep socially distanced.
Some students have decided to stop using bus travel altogether and find other forms of transport to commute.
Cameron Hartwell, a third-year History and American Studies student, said that he had decided to stop using bus travel.
“I don’t see much point in buying a yearly bus ticket,” he said. “I don’t trust Magic Bus to be able to put on enough services to allow for proper social distancing. I feel much safer making my own way into uni by biking it.”
Elisabeth Tasker, Managing Director of Stagecoach Manchester told The Mancunion: “We want to make sure that all students who arrive in Manchester can be confident about their journey with us.
“We have in place a range of measures to help our staff and customers to feel safe. These includes a comprehensive regime of daily deep cleans. With everybody playing their part and following the rules on wearing face coverings and hygiene, students can travel by bus safely and confidently.
“We closely monitor the number of people travelling on our services. Therefore, we will be adding in additional buses where we can to make sure students are able to get to where they need to be safely.
“We’d encourage students to protect one another by observing the social distancing on buses and wait for the next service if requested by the driver.”