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shot-of-manchester-metrolink-tram-proceeding-through-its-route-in-exchange-square-tram-station

A Guide to Manchester's Public Transport System (2024)

08/01/2024

Manchester is an ever-expanding city, and one way to explore this great area is through its efficient transport system. The city holds a fairly easy system for anyone who wants to explore the area, with buses, trams and trains that run until the later hours of the evening (from the early hours in the morning). 

You can find more information about Manchester's transport system through Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). 

Content List:

  1. The Bee Network
  2. Buses
  3. Trams
  4. Trains
  5. Other Transports

What makes Manchester's consistent transport system so efficient is its development of sustainable travel (a concept we know has been trending since 2010), which is evident from the new Bee Network initiative.

To help our visitors find their way around Manchester, We’ve created a guide on Manchester’s transport system. 

We’ll be looking at the locations of transport areas, how much they are, how to pay, any penalties, and more.

NOTE: Prices on this list are correct as of September 2023. For any changes, we will continuously update this post. 

Tips On Boarding Transport

Before we leave you to your travels, we feel it's important to go over a few tips before you board your chosen transport. 

Purchase a ticket before you get on

Avoid the hassle of penalties by purchasing a tram ticket, train pass or whichever you choose by buying a ticket before you board. Bus apps such as the Bee Network also provide cheaper bulk ticket prices when you purchase through the app, so options for cheaper travel are there. 

Prepare for bus replacement services 

In unnecessary times, you may find that certain tram or train lines are providing alternative transport options in form of bus replacement services. You can find all reported disruptions through the appropriate app (Trainline for trains, and the Bee Network app for the Metrolink or buses). 

Keep all tickets by your person

A given tip, but in case you're unaware - ticket supervisors often go through each customer and ensures they've paid for their ride! Whether you've bought your pass online or physically, you will need to show your ticket to a supervisor. 

The Bee Network 

The Bee Network is a new transport initiative that combines both bus and tram travel tickets, making travel 20% cheaper. The network is composed of buses and trams, as well as cycling, and walking routes.

The introduction of this new transport system also highlights its move to zero-emission electric buses, with the goal of Bee Network being the one-stop shop for all local public transport and journeys in Greater Manchester. 

photo-of-bee-network-bus-in-manchester-with-bus-operator-in-front-and-people-walking-past

What to expect

From 2023 until 2030, gradual but significant changes will be made to various bus routes to include the Bee Network's new routes. Residents and city visitors can expect various improvements such as earlier and later buses on some routes, greener transport systems, and a range of new tickets to make travel even more affordable for buses and trams across Greater Manchester.

The new Bee Network app is now available to download from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, which can be used to buy tickets, check times, and rate journeys from September 24th. 

Will prices become higher?

Single-operator bus tickets are still subject to regular price increases. However, the Bee Network's low fares have been extended until September 2024.

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Buses

Manchester has a network of buses that take passengers to various parts of the city and its greater areas.

The city's current bus network is efficient and with the new introduction of the Bee Network, various changes will be brought to bus services in Manchester.

manchester-buses-going-through-oxford-road-with-magic-bus

Credit:Robert vt Hoenderdaal

What bus stations are there in the city centre? 

In Manchester, there are three main bus stations you can find (all of which go to various places within Greater Manchester). 

Manchester Piccadilly Gardens Bus Station 

Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester M1 1RG

Considered to be Manchester’s main bus station, Piccadilly Gardens have buses going to various places in and around the city, including Altrincham, Chorlton, West Didsbury and Bolton. 

Shudehill Interchange 

Manchester M4 2AF

Shudehill is just behind Arndale, and also has a host of bus routes that take passengers to various areas in Manchester - including Trafford Centre, Bury and Warrington. There are also bus companies that can take you to other places in England if you prefer, which includes Flixbus and National Express. 

Manchester Central Coach Station

Manchester M1 3JF

Central Coach station is mostly coaches that take passengers to other parts of the UK, which includes Birmingham, Liverpool, London or even Edinburgh. 

Other bus stations around Greater Manchester include: 

Altrincham Interchange (WA14 1BL)

Ashton-under-Lyne interchange (OL6 6DU)

Bolton Interchange (BL1 1PF)

Bury Interchange (BL9 0BL)

Chorlton Bus Station (M1 3JF)

Eccles Interchange (M30 0DA)

Farnworth Bus Station (BL4 8EX)

Hyde Bus Station (SK14 2EL)

Leigh Bus Station (WN7 4LP)

Manchester Airport The Station (M90 3RR)

Middleton Bus Station (M24 1AY)

Oldham Bus Station (OL1 1NZ)

Pendleton Bus Station (M3 7NH)

Radcliffe Bus Station (M26 1AB)

Rochdale Interchange (OL16 1YG)

Southern Cemetery Bus Station (M20 2EW)

Stalybridge Bus Station (SK15 2AE)

Stockport Heaton Lane Bus Station (SK4 1AR)

Trafford Bus Station (M17 8AT)

Wigan Bus Station (WN1 1HX)

Wythenshawe Interchange (M22 9PQ)

 

woman-on-bus-paying-while-being-greeted-by-bus-driver

Credit:monkeybusinessimages

How much will buses cost? 

All buses in Manchester will cost £2 for a single, and £5 for a day’s travel. For children (under the age of 16), the cost will be £1 capped and £2.50 for a day’s travel. 

Passengers can also buy a week of unlimited bus travel in Greater Manchester which will cost £21 for adults, and £10.50 for children. 

There is also the new Bee AnyBus + Tram ticket launching on the 24th of September. You can find more information here.

How can passengers pay? 

Most buses in Manchester allow on-board payments using contactless cards and devices, although it might be best to check each company’s policy around the payment. 

The Bee Network app also allows you to buy new tickets that allow you to use both buses and trams around Manchester.

You can pay with either cash or a card, but you can also pay for a week’s travel card (which you can upload to an igo card).

What penalties are there?

There are no penalty fares for buses. If passengers fail to pay for their tickets, the bus will simply refuse to proceed with its route. 

However, there will be penalties for vehicles passing through bus lanes, but these routes are clearly indicated so it will be easy to avoid them. The penalty is £30 if you pay within 14 days, £90 if the penalty is not paid within 28 days. 

Are there any free buses? 

shot-of-yellow-free-bus-around-manchester

Credit:Robert vt Hoenderdaal

There are free buses that travel through Manchester every 10 to 20 minutes. The city has three buses that offer free services, with varying schedules and routes that all begin and end at Piccadilly train station. 

For more information on Manchester’s free public transport, please visit TFGM’s free-bus page

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Metrolink

The Metrolink is another way for visitors to get around the city centre and beyond. The advantage of the Metrolink is that it commonly diverts away from any traffic in the city centre, making travel much easier. 

trams-to-manchester-sign

Credit:Wirestock

Of course there are some limitations in destinations and stops. But overall, the Metrolink is a reliable transport system that visitors should take advantage of. There are around 5 tram stations within Manchester city centre that passengers can access. 

Where are the tram lines located?

Victoria Tram Line 

The Victoria tram line can be found on the following address:

Victoria Station Approach, Manchester M3 1WY

 Piccadilly Train Station

Piccadilly Tram Station is located within Piccadilly train station, shown on the address below:

Manchester M1 1RN

St. Peters Square 

St. Peters Square can be found on the address below:

St Peter's Square, Manchester M1 5AN

How much does the tram cost? 

Ticket prices will vary depending on what type of ticket you need and what zone you’re going to. We’ve created a quick chart below to indicate prices. 

Within Zone 1/Zone 2/Zone 3/Zone 4

 

Single

1-day

1-day (off-peak)

7-day 

28-day

Annual

Weekend

Adult

£1.40

£2.70

£1.90

£10.60

£36.40

£416.00

£6.80

Child & Disabled Concessionary

£0.70

£1.30

£0.90

£5.30

£18.20

£208.00

£3.40

16-18

  

£0.90

   

£3.40

 

Family Ticket:

Price:

Family off-peak travel card

£3.60

Two Zones (1+2)

 

Single

1-day

1-day (off-peak)

7-day 

28-day

Annual

Weekend

Adult

£2.80

£4.30

£3.50

£17.60

£60.20

£676.00

£6.80

Child & Disabled Concessionary

£1.40

£2.10

£1.70

£8.80

£30.10

£338.00

£3.40

16-18

  

£1.70

   

£3.40

Family Ticket:

Price:

Family off-peak travel card

£5.20

All zones weekend (6pm Fri to Sun) travelcard

£9.50

Two Zones (2+3 or 3+4)

 

Single

1-day

1-day (off-peak)

7-day 

28-day

Annual

Weekend

Adult

£2.40

£3.50

£3.10

£15.20

£52.00

£592.00

£6.80

Child & Disabled Concessionary

£1.20

£1.70

£1.50

£7.60

£26.00

£296.00

£3.40

16-18

  

£2.10

   

£3.40

Family Ticket:

Price:

Family off-peak travel card

£4.80

All zones weekend (6pm Fri to Sun) travelcard

£6.80

Three Zones (1+2+3)

 

Single

1-day

1-day (off-peak)

7-day 

28-day

Annual

Weekend

Adult

£3.80

£6.10

£4.30

£25.40

£84.20

£967.00

£6.80

Child & Disabled Concessionary

£1.90

£3.00

£2.10

£12.70

£42.10

£483.50

£3.40

16-18

  

£2.40

   

£3.40

Family

  

£7.10

   

£9.50

Family Ticket:

Price:

Family off-peak travel card

£7.10

All zones weekend (6pm Fri to Sun) travelcard

£9.50

Three Zones (2+3+4)

 

Single

1-day

1-day (off-peak)

7-day 

28-day

Annual

Weekend

Adult

£3.20

£4.70

£3.90

£20.40

£69.60

£769.00

£6.80

Child & Disabled Concessionary

£1.60

£2.30

£1.90

£10.20

£34.80

£384.50

£3.40

16-18

  

£2.40

   

£3.40

Family Ticket:

Price:

Family off-peak travel card

£6.90

All zones weekend (6pm Fri to Sun) travelcard

£9.50

Zone 1 + 2 + 3 + 4

 

Single

1-day

1-day (off-peak)

7-day 

28-day

Annual

Weekend

Adult

£4.60

£7.10

£4.90

£31.00

£101.80

£1154.00

£6.80

Child & Disabled Concessionary

£2.30

£3.50

£2.40

£15.50

£50.90

£577.00

£3.40

16-18

  

£2.40

   

£3.40

 

Family Ticket:

Price:

Family off-peak travel card

£7.30

All zones weekend (6pm Fri to Sun) travelcard

£9.50

For more information please visit TFGM’s website and price calculator to determine what your ticket price will be.

How can passengers pay? 

Istock 1446566490 (1) (1) (2)

Credit:rajatk

Passengers can pay with their contactless cards using smart readers at each station. Please note that adult fares will apply. You will be required to touch your card in and touch-out to allow our smart readers to indicate your journey. 

It’s also important to note that you must touch-in and touch-out with the same type of payment. So if you use your contactless on your phone to touch-in, you must also use your phone to touch-out, and so on. 

You will know when your card has been accepted when the smart reader reads “OK” with a green check mark. If a message displays with a cross and a red background, please try another contactless card. 

What are the penalties?

If you haven’t touched in before starting your journey, the contactless standard fare of £45 will be automatically charged to the card or device. 

If the inspector’s smart reader does not accept a card, you will be liable for up to £100. 

You can read more on Metrolink’s conditions of carriage for full disclosure.

How is my ticket/payment checked when I’m on board? 

An onboard investigator will be in your tram at all times. Please present the card you used during their checks. So it's important that you purchase a tram ticket before you board.

How will the Bee Network affect trams? 

The passes and tickets found on the Bee Network app entitle passengers to add trams to bus tickets altogether, which creates a cheaper alternative for public transports and more options for journeys.

What are the zones? 

picture-of-manchester-city-centre-in-motion

Credit:SAKhanPhotography

Zones indicate a specific area within Greater Manchester. Below is a chart that highlights the zones. 

Zone 1:

Deansgate-Castlefield

Exchange Square

Victoria

St.Peter’s Square

Shudehill

Market Street

Piccadilly Gardens

Piccadilly Station

New Islington

Zone 2: 

Exchange Quay

Anchorage

Harbour City

Langworthy

Ladywell

Eccles

Weaste

Mediacity UK

Salford Quays

Wharfside

Pomona

Imperial War Museum

Village

Stretford

Old Trafford

Trafford Bar

Firstwood

Chorlton

Queens Road

Abraham Moss

Crumpsall

Monsall

Central Park

Holt Town

Etihad Campus

Velopark

Clayton Hall

Barlow Moor Road

Zone 3:

Barton Dock Rd.

Trafford Centre

Parkway

Withington

Burton Rd.

West Didsbury

Didsbury Village

East Didsbury

Sale Water Park

Northern Moor

Wythenshawe Park

Moor Road

Baguley

Roundthorn

Bowker Vale

Heaton Park

Prestwich

Besses o’ th’Barn

Whitefield

Failsworth

Hollinwood

South Chadderton

Freehold

Westwood

Oldham King St.

Oldham Central

Oldham Mumps

Derker

Cemetery Road

Droylsden

Audenshaw

Ashton Moss

Ashton West

Ashton Under-Lyne

St. Weburgh’s Road

Stretford

Dane Road

Sale

Brooklands

 

Zone 4:

Timperley

Navigation Road

Altrincham

Roundthorn

Martinscroft

Benchill

Crossacres

Wythenshawe Town Centre

Robinswood Rd.

Peel Hall

Shadowmoss

Manchester Airport

Radcliffe

Bury

Shaw & Crompton

Newhey

Milnrow

Kingsway Business Park

Newbold

Rochdale Railway Station

Rochdale Town

    

The network map is also available to view if you’re unsure where your zones are.

 

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Trains

If you want to explore outside Greater Manchester, then boarding a train will be an ideal source of transport. Manchester has different train stations, including Manchester Piccadilly, Victoria and Oxford Road - all of which provide a train route to different areas of the country. 

shot-of-manchester-piccadilly-station

Credit:coward_lion

Trains are generally quite fast in reaching certain destinations, and you can find a ticket to your desired journey with ease using various apps on your phone, ticket offices or ticket booths found at all stations. 

How much will you need to pay? 

Ticket prices will vary widely depending on your destination and what railcards you have available. 

How can passengers pay? 

shot-of-ticket-gates-with-security

Credit:Oscar Martin

You can get your tickets using an app called “trainline” which can quickly find prices for the place you want to visit straight from Manchester. 

Are there any inspectors from my station to my stop? 

There will always be an inspection regardless of where you stop, so please ensure that you have purchased a ticket before you board a train from Manchester! 

What penalties are there? 

If you fail to purchase a ticket during a train inspection, you will be liable for a penalty fare. Trainline’s penalty fare is £20.00 or twice the appropriate single fare from the station where you started your journey to the next stop (or the station you leave the train) - whichever is the greater amount. 

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Other Ways to Explore

While we’ve covered the main forms of transport around Manchester, there are other ways to explore the city with ease. 

Lime Scooters 

Lime E-scooters offer a fast, clean and affordable form of travel, and are scattered throughout the city centre (as well as other areas of Manchester). These scooters are supplied by Lime, which is an electric vehicle company that aims to create carbon-free transportation.

shot-of-two-lime-scooters-parked-on-bricked-path

Credit:hanohiki

Simply download the “Lime” app, enter your details (you will be required to create an account) and scan the scooter you want to ride. Lime scooters can reach up to 17 miles per hour if you require something quick and easy to use!

There are two modes you can use, which are the standard and the “training” modes. Standard mode will make the scooter run normally, while training mode will reduce your max speed to 8mph. 

Bee Active Cycle Hire 

Cycle hire is another form of transport that visitors can easily access. With a number of bike hire stations across Manchester. 

shot-of-yellow-bikes-in-a-row

Credit:Richard Oldroyd

Similar to the E-scooters, you will be required to download an app to access the bikes. The app you need to download is called “Beryl”, and once you’re all set up, you can simply find a bike - unlock it- and start riding. 

(There are also lots of cycling routes to check in Manchester if you're feeling adventurous).

Manchester’s Public Transport System

The ways you can traverse Manchester is extensive and varied and is not as intimidating as it looks. It offers numerous ways to reach certain parts of Manchester city centre and beyond. The introduction of the Bee Network also indicates the potential for the city's transportation - moving to sustainable alternatives for transport, as well as cheaper ticket options for passengers.

If you’re travelling to Manchester and want accessible ways to explore the city, then the transport around this great city is your best bet! 

(Unless you want to explore the city on foot). 

 

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