Not that I was going from Wolverhampton to Liverpool you understand. My journey had started in Stourbridge and I was headed home to Lancaster, but that would have cost ten times as much.
Stourbridge is hardly a centre of the rail network anyway. All journeys from the town must start with the short ride to Stourbridge Junction and a change of train. Going anywhere north of Birmingham requires a further change there, so my bus to Wolverhampton didn't take any longer and even without my free pass would have been considerably cheaper. It also gave me a chance to inspect the brand-new bus station at Stourbndge, opened only last month and which replaced an extremely run-down facility which was a major disincentive to bus use.
|The new Stourbridge Bus Station|
|The Great Western|
|Wolverhampton Low Level - across the road from the Great Western|
Things got better after Preston. The number 40 is allowed much less time for its journey in the evenings, when car and passenger traffic are, in theory, lighter. In practice this means it has to charge up the A6 flat out, but it does show that modern buses can easily keep pace with the traffic when they need to and we were rarely overtaken.
Another advantage of public transport is that arrival times are exactly predictable. The number 40 stops at the end of our road and I was able to tell Hilary I would be home at 19:32 precisely - which I was. It wasn't the fastest of journeys, but it was certainly the cheapest and a lot more interesting than a thrash up the M6 or even the West Coast Main Line would have been.