I used to love driving but these days it can be so depressing. Everybody is in so much of a hurry to reach their destination. But, you know the worst thing I hate about driving in Manchester is that there are so many traffic jams that don't need to be traffic jams. What do I mean by this? Well, I've said it before and the powers that be didn't listen to me then, however, I will let you know that a lot of the 'No Left Turn' signs need tearing down to allow the traffic to flow!
I had to drive home along the Mancunian Way in the rush hour this evening and I nearly couldn't get off at my exit - thankfully, the nice driver behind me let me into the exit lane so I could go down the ramp onto Cambridge Street. Which was really lucky 'cos the vehicles on the flyover had come to a complete standstill.
Enough of this madness, just thinking about driving around this city at certain times of the day is starting to hurt my head! If the local government wants to know how to solve the traffic problems in Manchester all they need do is ask me. I'm not saying I have all the answers but there are some very simple cost effective measures that have been seriously overlooked.
OFF THE RAILS
The other pet-hate of mine is the amount of dis-used and dis-mantled railway lines in Manchester. I have written at length on this subject in the past, again my opinions fall on deaf ears. Today, I've been in Eccles, in Salford, in Newton Heath and in Ancoats and all the driving between. In all of these places there are amazing railway links under-used, dis-used or dis-mantled. What is going on? If, the powers that be can't afford to replace the track and the stations and invest in the trains, then surely they can tarmac over the former railways and run buses!
With all the private investment from firms like Stagecoach they could make it part of the contract to run X amount of services on these Dedicated Busways! The successful routes could then be upgraded to Metrolink or Rail although, I think that with a few bendy buses on these forgotten routes the operators would be reluctant to let them go. Imagine, travelling from Eccles to the city centre on a bendy bus in the rush hour along a Dedicated Busway - how long would that take? About ten minutes! How long does it take now? Well, it takes about twenty minutes to clear Eccles, then you have to negotiate the Salford traffic, then you need to join the lengthy queues of traffic coming off the M602 then...
Okay, what about the Metrolink? Well, now you're talking, the tramway was built following the line of the pre-existing railway track, about fifty yards to the right of it, if you're coming out of Eccles. Let me explain it the way I see it - Coming out of Eccles towards Manchester city centre there are two big A roads, Eccles Old Road and Eccles New Road. One Urban Motorway (M602) A railway line (under-used) which runs alongside the Motorway. And the Metrolink which shares space on Eccles New Road for part of its route, and also runs parallel with the pre-existing railway track and the motorway and Eccles Old Road.
Well, now that you mention it there are a couple of other alternatives. You see, also running parallel to the five above mentioned conventional routes there are at least another three alternative routes you can take - two of which are definitely quicker than any of the available road, rail or tram routes. The easiest of these would be to cross over the Centenary bridge into Trafford Park and follow the city centre signs. Travelling this way in the morning rush hour we did it in under fifteen minutes from Eccles Library to the Hilton Beetham Tower on Deansgate. Of course if you want to be really radical and not even have to worry about a parking space then you could take a waterbus straight along The Manchester Ship Canal, which is probably the most direct route to central Manchester and these days definitely the least congested.
So, which route should I take? Well, the Metrolink takes the longest time about ten to fifteen minutes longer than the bus and all the road routes are congested because they all lead to other traffic streams, for example Eccles Old Road runs into the A6 which is a very busy road in its own right, however, at this point it has just swallowed up all the traffic coming in from Liverpool off the A580 East Lancs Road and all the traffic exiting the M60 Manchester Orbital Motorway and all the traffic coming in from Preston, Blackpool and beyond off the M61 Motorway and all the traffic coming in from Bolton on the A666 (hell of a route!) So, I can't recommend Eccles Old Road!
Eccles New Road? No chance, because when you get to Trafford Road roundabout, you need to join Regent Road which is the dreaded A57 which is the link road through Salford from the M602 Motorway and it is mega busy at all times of the day. So, no I'm sorry I can't recommend Eccles New Road.
ANY SPARE RIBS?
Well, yes there are one or two Jibs you could try. When I lived at Fitzwarren, near Salford Precinct, I used to use Liverpool Street - that was a good Spare Rib in those days, it is still possible to go that way but the route runs out near Salford Rugby Club and you need to Jib over to Eccles New or Eccles Old Road to complete the journey. Of course heading for the city centre you would need to do this in reverse (not gear) if you get my drift. However, I must tell you that you need to really know where you're going when you reach the Oldfield Road area as there is so much new development there - you are likely to end up back on the A57 or the A6. - So, Jibbers only for the Spare Rib!
Hey, this is getting a bit MAD! So, to reach a speedy conclusion I will have to nominate the Trafford Park Route as the winner - But I must warn you that even this route can have serious tailbacks on the Bridgewater Way section of the A56 which you would use as the most direct link to the centre. Phew!