As soon as you leave Leicester’s Railway Station and hit the shops, it soon becomes apparent that the City’s football team triumph has provided a rather large bandwagon on which local commerce should jump. Shop window after shop window contains tenuous links to the beautiful game. In the main pedestrianized shopping area, the bizarre sight of a miniature Shetland pony with a football scarf around it’s neck, it’s owner randomly breaking into some unidentifiable speech.
Around the corner, in the freshly reopened Haymarket bus station, another spectacle.
What looks like a pop-up jumble sale turns out to be a gaggle of mainly older ladies, perusing a load of bus timetable leaflets on a table top.
Upon closer inspection, it is an enquiry desk. But it brings home – in graphic form – the need for printed timetables in this technological World. I eventually fight my way through the crowd to snaffle a bus map, risking a hand-bagging, rather like the “baddie” in 1970s TV wrestling.
The good folk of Leicester now have 2 quality bus stations to use. This one has been transformed from a collection of shelters into a facility fit for King (even ones dug up in Leicester car parks) and it is heartening to see it so busy in its first week of operation.
There’s plenty of space to mingle in, lots of digital information screens and toilets that are free to use – bucking the seemingly recent trend of charging to use them.
Talking of information, there’s plenty of that on the wall too, although it shows ALL bus services for Leicester, including the ones that don’t use Haymarket – and for my money, it isn’t immediately clear which ones are which.
Outside in the sun, two bus enthusiasts linger. One with a camera records everything leaving the station, the other with a notebook eyeballs me as I take pictures myself. There isn’t (to my knowledge) some secret bus enthusiasts’ secret greeting. So I nod my head at him, which momentarily surprises him. He stares back and makes a note of me in his book, as if I too have a fleet number.
Back inside, there are various people in hi-viz pointing people to their stops. The jumble sale of timetables has calmed down and I take a few for myself. On reflection, just like Leicester’s football team, this new bus station is just champion!
A quick stroll around to Leicester’s other bus station – St. Margaret’s – reveals a slightly less busy scene. My next move is a Skylink service to Derby via East Midlands Airport, although I’m a bit disappointed to find no printed timetables on offer – not even in the Arriva travel shop (although Skylink isn’t an Arriva-operated service, you still rather hope they’d have a timetable). A resulting moan on Facebook results in an Arriva Director “sorting” it.
The power of social media, eh?