Living at Manor Park in my first year was difficult. It sometimes felt isolating and like I was missing out on the stereotypical student experience. Many of my new friends were able to, quite literally, roll out of bed and into the lecture theatre within 5 minutes. They could stumble home from a night out at Rubix alone, because they lived down the road. Even small things, like not having to buy or prepare a lunch for when you’re on campus all day because you could just pop home, were all luxuries that I never got to experience.
While I am aware that the 20 minute walk and 10 minute bus ride might not seem like much, the buses were unreliable and sometimes I didn’t want to be sat in a seminar still catching my breath and wiping the sweat from my walk.
However, this is coming from someone who was only at Manor Park – I can only imagine the hell of living at Hazel Farm or even further around the city.
Thankfully things are changing, as the University has taken action and the experience of living away from Stag Hill should be made much easier as a result.
At the beginning of this year the Student’s Union announced that they would be switching bus companies from Arriva to Stagecoach as the preferred campus operator. Stagecoach have made a number of promises that will, hopefully, make travelling around Guildford easier for students, and improve their experience of the university massively.
One of these benefits is that Stagecoach is offering an annual bus pass at £155 for students - £10 cheaper than the deal Arriva offered last year. While, admittedly, that is still a lot of money, it is a worthy investment, saving you, potentially, hundreds of pounds in the long run.
The night bus was the most frustrating aspect of the buses last year, it ran twice a week, and even then there was only one at 1am and a second at 2am. While the walk home was a fun addition to a night out, especially when buying late night snacks from Tesco, it was sometimes a bit too much. Stagecoach have not only answered our student prayers, they have exceeded them, with night buses running every hour from 11pm-4am, Monday-Saturday.
The increased frequency of the buses doesn’t stop there either, as Stagecoach has timetabled their daytime buses to be at Stag Hill campus every five minutes during peak hours in the semester. This will provide extra flexibility for students living off campus, as they won’t be wasting their free time standing at bus stops.
Here is a link to the new timetable: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/currentstudents/campus/transport/bus/semestertimetable.pdf
In addition to the University’s improved bus service, there will now be a bike hire scheme in select areas around Guildford after the success of the Santander Cycles University Challenge that took place last autumn. (If you’d like to hear more about the competition and how the scheme came into place, you can read about it on the university website: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/news/nextbikes-set-guildford-launch-following-successful-santander-cycles-university-challenge).
50 Smart Bikes and 8 Stations will be available
Funded predominantly by the company nextbikes, 50 bikes and their docking stations have been dotted around Stag Hill, Manor Park, Surrey Sports Park and beyond. This will be a welcome addition to the University as it provides students with even more choice with their travel and will help to make that divide between Stag Hill and Manor Park even smaller.
This should also be a really affordable travel option, with prices starting at 8p a day to hire a bike for students. Cycling may end up being the faster way to travel too, with Guildford being crowned the fifth most traffic-congested city in the UK!
Hopefully this bike hire scheme will be as successful as the fundraising, and will start to expand over the next couple of years.
The implementation of both these new travel options should improve the experience for students living off campus, making travel easy and accessible for all.