In September we finally paid a visit to somewhere (or is that something?) that had been on our local photography bucket list for some time – the Leigh Guided Busway. Or to give it it’s official title The Leigh – Salford – Manchester Bus Rapid Transit…….
Doesn’t sound that glamorous does it? I guess it isn’t but it is rather unique and, if you’re in the right place, offers great opportunities for some very different photos.
My home town of Leigh used to have a train station up to 1969 and the oft quoted "fact" is that it is the largest town in Europe without a train station. In reality it’s actually the 7th largest in Britain. However whether it’s the largest or smallest doesn’t matter, for years the town felt a bit cut off to put it mildly. So the transport planners came up with the idea of the guided busway and after years of opposition and the usual legal battles it opened in April 2016.
Since then a quiet revolution has taken place with over 2.7million passengers per year now using the service.
The first part of the service from Leigh through Tyldesley and onto the East Lancs looks like one of those Mattel Hot Wheels tracks from my childhood Christmas mornings except this one has the distinctive purple buses zooming up and down every 10 minutes or so. In addition the track has been built with a substantial walking/cycling path and bridleway at one side allowing all manner of people to take exercise through some glorious countryside, once scarred by numerous pits and spoil tips (rucks as we used to call them) now completely transformed.
When we posted an image on our Instagram account we were amazed by the number of people, all quite local, who didn’t know it existed.
There’s loads of local, and in our case, personal history around this part of the world and the Busway acts as a thread joining it all together.
So, something as mundane as a public transport system can be transformative, interesting and in our view photogenic too. That’s a win in our book!
For more photos of the busway (it's not just buses!) visit our gallery page.