Travel & Tourism

Travel advice issued in Manchester to avoid chaotic Christmas shopping scenes again

Town is getting seriously busy - last weekend shoppers were 'trapped' in a car park queue for up to five hours

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 2nd December 2022

Mancs have been issued clear travel advice in a bid to prevent chaotic scenes in Manchester city centre.

Last weekend saw shoppers queueing for up to five hours to get out of the car park adjacent to the Arndale shopping centre.

It was a perfect storm that brought so many thousands into town, from pay day to Black Friday sales to the Christmas Markets.

And with Peter Kay performing at the AO Arena in Manchester this weekend, things might be about to get even busier.

Even before last weekend’s insane scenes, which left people ‘trapped’ inside a multi-storey, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) had issued some travel advice.


They said that the same weekend last year saw an 11% increase in peak journey times, with between 3pm and 7pm the busiest part of the day.

The first weekend of the Christmas Markets this year reportedly led to a 7% increase in vehicles around the city centre.


TfGM encouraged people to use public transport or active travel wherever possible, predicting a massive upswing in visitor numbers coming to the city to shop, eat, drink, attend concerts and see the Christmas Markets.

TfGM outlined a few options available to cope with the increase in trips in the festive season.

Travel advice has been issued for the festive season. Credit: TfGM

There are thousands of free park and ride sites around Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network, with family tickets offering travel for one to three children and one or two adults from as little as £3.60.


The new bus fare cap is in place now too, so a single trip will never cost more than £2 (or £1 for a child).

Congestion has increased in the city centre and inner ring road, with car trips returning back to pre-pandemic levels and some big road layouts that leave less space for cars (like the pedestrianisation of the Northern Quarter).

Travel advice for drivers is as follows:

  • Drive at a quieter time – this means avoiding driving to and around the city after 12pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and between 3pm and 7pm during the week.
  • Know where road congestion may be – our data shows that journeys along the Mancunian Way typically have higher journey times during the week, and journeys along the northern section of the Inner Ring Road (Great Ancoats Street) have higher journey times at the weekend.
  • Take a different route – if you need to drive across the city at the weekend, it may be quicker to use Alan Turing Way/Mancunian Way.
  • Park on the same side of the city as your route if you can – driving across the city can add additional time to your journey, so if it’s an option for you, park in a car park closest to your route out of the city centre.
  • Check for quicker routes before every car journey on Google, Waze and other Apps. You can also use TfGM’s journey planner.

TfGM’s Get on Board Christmas campaign has helpfully mapped out festive offerings around the region – from food to free things to family activities – and includes travel advice on how to get there.

TfGM’s Head of Highways, Peter Boulton, said: “We want everyone coming to enjoy the many great attractions that the city centre and Trafford Centre have to offer to enjoy the festivities and have a great time.


“The number of trips on our roads is back to where they were before the pandemic and that is leading to added congestion at key times – which means more people stuck in traffic.

“To avoid this, we’d encourage people to plan their journey by thinking about how they plan to get in, around and out of the city centre.

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“Public transport is a great option, with frequent services and great value products as well as plenty of staff and information on hand to help you plan the perfect journey.”

Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Manchester City Council, said: “It has been great to see people returning to Manchester to enjoy what the festive season has to offer.

“We are expecting it to be increasingly busy the closer we get to Christmas which is why we’d urge people to plan ahead before they travel and stay up to date with the region’s transport network through the TfGM website.


“We’d encourage people to use public transport as much as possible when travelling into Manchester as it is the most environmentally friendly method, as well as the best way of beating the traffic.”

Featured image: TfGM