Manchester is an ever-expanding city, and one way to explore this great area is through it’s efficient transport system. The city holds a fairly easy system for anyone that wants to explore around the area, with buses, trams and trains that run until the later hours of the evening (from the early hours in the morning).
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 March, 2023. For any changes, we will continuously update this post.
Manchester's bus network is extensive, with numerous bus routes connecting the city centre to its suburbs and neighbouring towns. Several companies including Stagecoach, First Bus, and Arriva run the buses. The city centre has several main bus stations, including the Manchester Piccadilly Bus Station, Shudehill Interchange, and the Manchester Coach Station.
Manchester has a network of buses that take passengers to various parts of the city, as well as Greater Manchester. Companies that run the buses include Stagecoach, First Bus, Arriva, and Go North West, which all cover certain parts of Manchester.
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 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
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)
How much will buses cost?
All buses in Manchester will cost £2 for a single, £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.
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 payment.
You can pay with either cash or 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 ticket, 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?
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.
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.
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?
[H4] Victoria Tram Line
The Victoria tram line can be found on the following address:
Victoria Station Approach, Manchester M3 1WY
[H4] Piccadilly Train Station
Piccadilly Tram Station is located within Piccadilly train station, shown on the address below:
[H4] St. Peters Square
St. Peters Square can be found on the address below:
St Peter's Square, Manchester M1 5AN
[H3] 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
Zone 1 + 2
Zone 1 + 2 + 3
Zone 1 + 2 + 3 + 4
For more information please visit TFGM’s website and price calculator to determine what your ticket price will be.
What are the zones?
Zones indicate a specific area within Greater Manchester. Below is a chart that highlights the zones.
Imperial War Museum
Barlow Moor Road
Barton Dock Rd.
Sale Water Park
Besses o’ th’Barn
Oldham King St.
St. Weburgh’s Road
Wythenshawe Town Centre
Shaw & Crompton
Kingsway Business Park
Rochdale Railway Station
The network map is also available to view if you’re unsure where your zones are.
How can passengers pay?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Manchester’s Transport Systems
The transport system in 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. 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).