Wednesday, 8 May 2013


The difference between a single and a return rail fare is so small that to get full value from an unused uncollected return it's necessary to find an alternative way of making the second outward journey. So yesterday I made the journey from Lancaster back to the boat at Marple by bus.
The number 41 to Preston stops at the end of our street and conveniently has a departure from town at exactly 09.30 which is when my bus pass becomes valid for the day.
It's a fast run down the A6 to Preston with only a small diversion to serve the market town of Garstang en-route. There was time for "tea-and-two-toasts" in the cafe in the iconic 1960s but soon-to-be-demolished bus station at Preston after which the fastest way south is on the 125 to Chorley and Bolton.

Not for me though. I got the 109 to Chorley, which follows an indirect route via Leyland (where most British buses were built at one time) solely because it is operated by a local operator, Fishwick.
A Fishwick bus at Preston Bus Station
J Fishwick & Sons has been running buses between Preston and Leyland since 1907. It's survived threats to its existence from the cut-throat competition of the 1920s; regulation, licensing and the consequent growth of national combines in the 30s; nationalisation proposals in the 40's; the decline in bus use of the 50s and 60s; more nationalisation in the 70s; deregulation, privatisation and renewed competition in the 80s and the dominance of international transport groups (First, Stagecoach, Arriva etc) in the 90s and currently.  Throughout all this and for over 100 years Fishwick's has continued to run its two-tone green buses between Preston, Leyland and Chorley and has retained its independence and profitability. It must be doing something right!

At Chorley I rejoined the 125 route to Bolton from where I got a 22 to Stockport. A marathon run of over two hours through the western and southern suburbs of the Manchester conurbation. The 22 crosses the Manchester Ship Canal at Barton Bridge and this marks the very-pronounced divide between the rather run-down, post-industrial areas of the north (Bolton, Eccles, Salford) and the leafy, prosperous southern suburbs of Urmston, Chorlton and the like.  By now it was mid-afternoon and the rush-hour traffic was beginning to build. Our driver was doing a heroic job in keeping to time (although I'm always sorry to see that even bus drivers go through red lights nowadays). I was going to complement him on his work when we arrived, but at the last minute, being unaware that I was the last passenger on the vehicle he went straight past Stockport bus station and took me round the block and into the bus garage instead!  I've been in plenty of bus garages in my time but this was the first one I've ended up in by accident.  (He explained that he'd thought the bus was empty and was finishing his shift so saw no point in going into the bus station).
After that there was just a sedate ride on the 384 to Marple, a walk to the boat and, as I was in danger of overstaying my welcome on the visitor moorings a short hop down to High Lane.


Halfie said...

Out of interest I used to see how long it would take to drive from Lancaster to Marple: it suggested an hour and a quarter. Selecting the option for public transport it seems you can do the journey in under two hours by train with two changes. It appears that it took almost all day to do the journey by bus! (Yes, I know you're a bus man, and that, like boating, the journey is all part of the fun.)

Jim said...

Halfie, I doubt that in the real world you could drive from Lancaster to Marple in an hour and a quarter!
Allowing for traffic I'd add at least 20mins.
The train takes 2 hours with only one change but it takes me 25 mins to get to the station.
Yes, the bus takes all day but i could have done it in about four hours if I'd always caught the next available bus but I like to have a break ad i go along.
As you say though I love bus travel, can tolerate trains but hate driving.

D Hart said...

Lyme view Marina has the worst management / owners ever
Avoid and take your custom somewhere it will be appreciated