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Moving to Manchester, England from Lagos, Nigeria means that I’m suddenly exposed to a myriad of both local and international travel opportunities.
For the first time ever, at the beginning of 2019, I created an international travel schedule. I’ll talk more about how I plan my travels in subsequent posts. But most recently, I expanded that schedule to include domestic travel around the United Kingdom. So, at the top of my bed, I have a post-it note with a list of cities I want to visit between now and the end of the year.
One of the best things about living in England specifically and Europe by extension is the seamless transportation system. Coming from Lagos, Nigeria where our transportation system is literally in shambles. It is literally difficult to get from point A to B without traffic. I welcome this ease of travel with all my limbs.
For the month of May, I was due for a local day trip so I looked around my Google Maps for the cheapest ways to travel from Manchester to everywhere else.
One of the options presented to me was through a coach specifically through National Express.
Naturally, I went on to their website and was amazed at how outrageously cheap it was to travel to nearby cities. After a bit of back and forth, I booked a return ticket to Liverpool and patiently waited to experience National Express for the first time. While that was happening, I went through their website to familiarize myself with the service and set a tiny bit of expectations. Frankly, I didn’t have that many high expectations because it is England, everything works.
On the day on my trip, I should have sensed that I was gonna have a bad day because of the following incidents;
- I miscalculated the distance from my house to the coach station. In my defence, I didn’t miscalculate, I just didn’t leave extra time for uncertainties such as the bus coming late.
- Yes, the bus from my house to the coach station came almost five minutes late and that was when everything started to go downhill.
- Of course, I missed my bus to Liverpool so I had to sit at the coach station and make two crucial decisions; either buy another single one-way ticket or go back home because my return ticket from Liverpool back to Manchester was still very much valid. So, I went with the first option and bought a slightly inflated single ticket. I didn’t mind much as long as I got to Liverpool that day.
- I waited patiently for about thirty to forty minutes for my coach to Liverpool to arrive. It did slightly earlier. But because of how early it was, I didn’t know that I could board the coach even before the takeoff time.
- Yes, you might have guessed. The coach to Liverpool left me behind AGAIN. It has such a horrible day but as my mother would say every disappointment is a blessing. I might have just avoided a major road accident, who knows?
Now, I take full responsibility for missing the first coach but I’ve decided to split the blame with National Express for the second coach.
My major issue with the entire experience was that there were no user guides or directions for first-timers. This is such a flaw in the system because you could just be roaming around the coach station and there would be literally no one asides from the tickets and the security guards to direct you on how it works which is so crucial to the overall user experience.
I work in Digital and I know more than a ton of websites that usually have an ‘how it works’ section either on the navigation bar or on the footer. But if you scroll long enough, you will find something to help the first timer.
For Manchester Coach Station in Chorlton, I was deeply disappointed and angry even. But it’s been about two weeks since that day and my anger has somewhat dissipated. Regardless, I didn’t have a good first-time experience.
Will I use National Express again?
Well, I plan to travel around the United Kingdom and until I find a cheaper and/or better alternative, I’ll learn from my mistakes and use them again.