Manchester Public Transport

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Going to Manchester soon and want to know how Manchester public transport works? You’ve come to the right place! Manchester is the third biggest city in the UK and, as everywhere in England, has a very good public transport network.


There are many things to do in Manchester and knowing how to get around is important as it will make your stay way easier! Especially if you are only staying for one day!


Here is everything you need to know about Manchester public transport.


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Manchester public transport bus at night


Stagecoach operates all buses in Manchester. The network includes over 100  bus routes going all around Greater Manchester including Stockport, Bury and Ashton.


Where can I buy bus tickets in Manchester?


The best place to buy your bus tickets or passes is in the bus itself. You can simply jump in, ask the driver and pay in the bus. It is possible to buy them online however it’s way more hassle than it should and it won’t be any cheaper. Whether you are in Manchester for a visit or to live here, you will find it easier to buy your ticket on the bus.


How can I pay for bus tickets in Manchester?


You can pay directly on the bus with cash, card and phones (Google & Apple Pay). Every bus is equipped with a contactless card reader. Quick and effective!


If you pay in cash it is recommended to have the exact amount or at least as close to it as possible. You can pay for single, return tickets and weekly passes.


Do I need a bus card?


You don’t need a card for any single or return tickets. If you wish to take a weekly or monthly pass, you will need to have a bus card but don’t worry about it, it will be provided by the driver.


There is a £1 fee for the card but you can have it back if you bring your card back. There is no name on the card which means you can also borrow it from someone. Only one pass can be added per card though.


How much does it cost?


The standard fares on Manchester buses are £2.40 for a single ticket, £4 for a return ticket and £16 for a weekly pass.


This is the case on all buses in Greater Manchester except the following:

  • Bus 43 for the airport will be £3.50 single.
  • Magic buses are £1.50 single and £9 for a weekly pass.


Magic buses provide the same service as any other bus in Manchester. You can recognise them by the look,  they have a magician on them, and the number, they are all the 100s lines.


They were originally created to help the students travelling around Manchester at a reduced price but anyone can take them for the same fare. Most magic bus lines are in South Manchester near the universities.


Here are a few examples of Magic bus lines: 143 goes West Didsbury to Piccadilly Gardens through Fallowfields and Rusholme. 142 goes from East Didsbury to the city centre through Fallowfields and Rusholme…




manchester tram


Trams in Manchester are operated by Metrolink. There are 7 lines from Manchester city centre to termini at Altrincham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bury, East Didsbury, Eccles, Manchester Airport and Rochdale.


Tickets cost £1.40 (1 zone) to £4.60 (up to 4 zones) for a single. There are also some return and weekend tickets available. Each tram stop has machines where you can buy your tickets with cards or cash.




Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria are the main stations in Manchester. That’s where all the national trains are leaving from. You will be able to get anywhere in Britain including Wales and Scotland from either of these two stations. But Manchester railway network is way bigger than that, it includes dozens of local and regional stations that will represent a much quicker alternative to buses or trams depending where you’re going.


Some of these stations include Oxford Road, Burnage, Didsbury and many more.


How to plan my journey on Manchester public transport?


The best way to plan your journey would be to use the following apps: Google maps and CityMapper. The entire network of Manchester public transport is updated on Google Maps and CityMapper. You only need to put your starting point and destination and it will show you the different options.


It will also recommend you the easiest and quickest option. In terms of cost, if your journey includes a train you can check the price on Trainline. Everything is indicated in real time which makes it very accurate. You also have the option to indicate the time and date you want to leave or arrive by and the app will calculate everything for you. It’s free and extremely convenient.


How to get to Manchester airport with public transport?


There are many different ways to go to Manchester airport from the city centre. If you choose to go via public transport you have 3 options.


Train from Piccadilly Station to Manchester Airport


The train is the best, cheapest and quickest way to get to the airport from Manchester city centre. They leave every 20 minutes from Manchester Piccadilly and will bring you to the airport in less than 20 minutes. Several companies operate these trains including Virgin and Transpeniene, which makes the ticket price range from £2.50 to £10.


In order to get the best price, it’s recommended to check the trains on Trainline. Trainline will show you all the options and departure times so you can choose the train that suits you the most in terms of time and price.


Tram to Manchester Airport


The tram to Altrincham stops at the airport too and cost between £1.40 and £4.60 depending on where you take it from. Although it does bring you straight to the airport, it is important to note that it’s probably the worst way to get to the airport, at least if you are leaving from the city centre. It takes over an hour to get to the airport.


It’s slow, crowded and not particularly cheap.


However, it can be a very good option in these two circumstances: 

– if you are already on the tram line

– if you are close to a tram stop it will make your journey way easier as it’s direct.


Also, you will only pay one fare and won’t have to take a bus plus a train ticket for example.


If you took a weekend or week pass then your fare will be included and you won’t have to pay more to get to the airport. Although it might be a bit longer, it will be included in what you already pay. Perfect for travellers on a budget.


Bus 43 to Manchester Airport


The bus 43 goes from Piccadilly Gardens to Manchester Airport. It costs £3.50 and takes about 1h.


If you are in the city centre, this wouldn’t be the best way to go to the airport, however, if you are in Rusholme, Fallowfields, Withington or pretty much anywhere in south Manchester, this will be the best way!


It runs all night which means that even if you need to be at the airport at 5 am, you will be able to take it. Please note that between midnight and 5 am it only runs every 30mins (keep that in mind to plan your journey). During the day, it runs every 10mins.


You may also be interested in:

Things to do in Manchester

Things to do in Manchester in Winter

How to spend one day in Melbourne: the ultimate Melbourne 1-day itinerary

What to do in Manchester when it rains

National Trust near Manchester

Manchester Christmas Markets


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