On Sunday we travelled by train from Blundellsands & Crosby on the Merseyrail Northern Line to Wrexham. This meant changing at Liverpool Central to the Merseyrail Wirral line, and then changing at Bidston to the main line to Wrexham. There was a bus replacement service from Bootle Oriel Road to Liverpool.
The bus got to the centre of the city but went a rather odd way for Central Station. It stopped on Lime St outside St George’s Hall. As I had a big suitcase I waited for the other passengers to get off. I realised that everyone was getting off. I spoke to the driver.
‘Is this Central Station?’
‘Yes,’ he lied.
‘It looks more like St George’s Hall to me.’
‘It’s the best we can do. We can’t get any closer,’ he lied further.
Of course I knew perfectly well that we were not at Central Station and so did the driver. (In fact we were a good five minutes’ walk away at the best of times and maybe a quarter of an hour for us with a big suitcase apiece.) My question was intended to ask whether this was what was regarded as the Central Station stop in terms of a bus replacement service, which has to visit every stop on the route, including the last one, though as I had seen all the other passengers get off I guessed that this was the terminus for the bus and there was a certain element of sarcasm in my question. The driver chose to answer my metaquestion (Is this what is regarded as the Central Station stop in terms of a bus replacement service?), which told me what I wanted to know, but he should not have done so. I had a suitcase and I was asking for Central Station. Had I been a stranger to Liverpool wanting to leave the city (and Merseyrail connects with the main line at Chester as well as at Bidston) I might well have assumed from his answer that the large station on the other side of the road was the one I was seeking. But that is Lime Street station.
Then there is his second answer. As we walked from where the bus had stopped to Central, we passed along Elliot St, next to Canning Place. There we saw a parade of three bus stops, obviously closer to Central Station than St George’s Hall is. But that was not all. The street on which Central station stands (it is an underground station with a small entrance) has no bus stops but does have traffic running in both directions; I can’t see why a bus couldn’t have stopped there. But even so, opposite the station entrance is a piece cut out of the pavement, maybe 10 or 15 metres long, marked as a loading bay for the nearby shops. This was not used on a Sunday afternoon, so there is no reason at all why it should not be used as the stopping place for a bus service to Central Station.