GMPTE (www.gmpte.com) oversees all public transport.
Fares & tickets
Most bus stations have a GMPTE Travelshop that provides general travel and timetable information, as well as selling multi-journey tickets. In the City Centre, there are GMPTE Travelshops at Piccadilly Gardens and at Shudehill interchange.
On trains and trams fares cost less off-peak (after 9.30am on weekdays and all day on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays). You can get service and timetable information by visiting www.gmpte.com or by phoning 0871 200 2233.
System One Travelcards
DaySaver tickets are available across the train, tram and bus networks. There are Day Saver tickets for each specific service but if you plan to do a lot of travelling, then the System One off-peak Day Saver is the best option. This allows you to travel on any bus, train and Metrolink tram between 9.30am and midnight any day of the week. The day ticket costs £7 and can be bought from bus drivers, at rail stations and from Metrolink ticket machines. For children’s fares, see www.gmpte.com.
Tickets can be bought from the driver on all buses, but they only take cash, so it’s advisable to have the correct change. Stagecoach and First Manchester are the main operators in the centre. Fares vary depending on journey length. The best-value fares are offered by Stagecoach’s Dayrider (£3.50) or the First Day Saver (£4.10), which allow unlimited travel for a whole day, although travel is limited to the bus company you bought the ticket on. Alternatively, a System One Day Saver can be bought from the driver for £4.90 (£4.50 off-peak) and applies to any bus for the whole day.
This brilliant free City Centre bus service runs from Manchester Piccadilly and visitors can hop on and off at stops all around the city. There are three circular lines, with routes covering Deansgate, King Street, Quay Street and Castlefield.
Night buses offer a cheap and safe alternative to getting a taxi home. Late services run from Piccadilly Gardens and other City Centre stops, but most operate only on Fridays and Saturdays. Night buses run regularly until around 3.30am (check www.gmpte.com for timetables) and travel to many destinations in Greater Manchester. Fares are £3 or less.
Metrolink is a modern tram system running through the centre of Manchester and out to the suburbs, replacing many of the smaller local train stations and services. It runs seven days a week and is one of the most convenient and quickest ways to travel into the City Centre. Lines run from the centre out as far as Altrincham, Bury and Eccles, and plans to extend the service to Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Airport are well underway. New lines to Chorlton and Oldham open in spring and autumn 2011, respectively. The network also provides links to some of the city’s main leisure and tourist attractions.
Single, return and Saver tickets are available. Buy from the machines on the platform before you travel, as you cannot buy a ticket on the tram itself. Prices vary depending on journey length; for a fare calculator, visit www.metrolink.co.uk.
Services run every six minutes between Bury and Altrincham via the City Centre, and every 12 minutes between Eccles and Piccadilly. Trams operate from around 6am until roughly 11pm Monday to Thursday, and until midnight on Saturdays and 10pm on Sundays, although these times vary depending on the station.
‘Off-peak’ applies to trams running from 9.30am onwards Monday to Friday and all day Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays.
Hackney cabs (‘black cabs’) are licensed by the local council and can be hailed on the street or picked up at a taxi rank. Look out for cabs with their ‘taxi’ logo illuminated to show that they are free. There are many ranks around the City Centre, including Piccadilly Gardens, Piccadilly station, St Peter’s Square and Albert Square. You can also book a black cab (for example Mantax, 230 3333); some accept credit cards, but it is best to confirm this before you start your journey. Taxi fares increase after midnight.
Private-hire cabs are usually saloon vehicles and are generally cheaper than black cabs. They cannot be hailed on the street and it is illegal for them to pick up customers on the road. Drivers touting for business on the street are often unlicensed, expensive and potentially dangerous. Book minicabs in advance over the phone; find taxi numbers on 118 500. Legitimate drivers should display their licence in the car and a licence plate on the back of the vehicle.
Manchester City Centre has more than its fair share of one-way systems, although its outlying districts are relatively easy to navigate and tourist attractionsare well signposted.
Always read the signs. The City Centre traffic wardens aren’t shy of slapping on tickets or wheel-clamps, and even of towing offending vehicles away. As a general guide, you cannot park on a single yellow line between 8am and 6pm Monday to Saturday. Never park on a double yellow line, in a loading bay or on a space marked for residents or the disabled unless you have the appropriate permit.
There is both on-street and off-street parking in the City Centre. On-street parking is often restricted to one, two or three hours maximum, depending on where in town you are. A ticket must be purchased from the machine on the pavement, with tariffs starting at 55p for 15 minutes. Parking on the road is free after 6pm and on Sundays and bank holidays. There are numerous NCP car parks (0845 050 7080, www.ncp.co.uk) around Manchester, many of which are 24-hour. These offer secure parking and charge around £2.90 for two hours.
Vehicles that are towed away are taken to the pound in Ardwick, which must be contacted to get your car back (234 4144). Proof of ownership and identity is needed – usually car keys and two other forms of ID. The basic charge is £135, plus £12 for each day the car remains in the pound. After 14 days, the basic fee increases to £175.
There are a number of companies around the city. EasyCar has an office by Piccadilly rail station (www.easycar.com), while City Car Club offers short-term hires via parking bays across the City Centre (hires from as little as 30 minutes, www.citycarclub.co.uk). Otherwise, try Avis (www.avis.co.uk) or Enterprise Rent-A-Car (www.enterprise.com).