On Trains & Buses

Travel news, views & information from Europe & North America by an independent public transport user

From St. Helier to Elsewhere by Bus and Ferry

Posted on April 14, 2023

Reading time: 4 minutes.

After seeing the transformative effect of spending some time in Ireland during March, I was lured into planning something similar around Easter. After surveying prospects of getting decent weather, I ended up plumping for Jersey after rejecting other possibilities like Galway, Stirling or Aberdeen. It helped that my brother enjoyed his stay on the island and that I went on a day trip there during a school excursion to Brittany.

Though Condor Ferries offer ferry connections from Portsmouth and Poole, I instead flew with EasyJet between Manchester and Jersey. Those flights were early in the day so that meant hotel stays that forwent breakfasting prior to being in an airport. Otherwise, they worked well, and I had empty seats next to me too. There was a delay to the return flight cause by understaffing at Jersey airport, but that was not critical for me.

Buses run frequently between Jersey airport and St. Helier from early until late, so that made the island’s largest conurbation my base for the trip. It also meant that I could make the best of its bus network for getting around the place, and that day outings by ferry became more realistic possibilities.

Liberty Bus (the name harkens back to the time of German occupation during World War II) operates all the island’s scheduled bus services on contract to its government. The company is owned by Tower Transit, who took it over from the now defunct HCT Group. Aside from arrangements for concessionary fare passengers, a flat fare policy is in operated. For contactless transactions, the tariff is £2.25 while this increases to £2.70 for those using cash. While there are Discover Jersey passes of one, three and seven day duration, the price of the single fare negated these, and I travelled on that basis around the island.

Aside from the airport travels, my journeys took me to L’Etacq, Rozel, La Corbière, Portelet, Gorey and St. John’s. Everything worked without drama, and the efficiency and the courtesy that I encountered was an example for operators elsewhere. My only concerns were centred around making the best of any walking opportunities and not to constrain myself with laggardness; there was a time when my plans were derailed by my reaching Liberation bus station too late on my second day on the island. There was always another option and some services ran very frequently; airport and Gorey ones stand out for me in this regard. Hourly frequencies are common though some places see less than this.

Though I had forgone ferry travel for getting between England and Jersey, I made use of its services for one day trip to Saint-Malo and another to Guernsey. Both had me forgoing breakfast at my hotel in favour of my getting something to eat during the crossings. Because there is often only a single sailing between destinations, not every day offered a day trip, so it was a case of picking from what was available.

In the case of Saint-Malo, it was a matter of choosing from the Saturday, Sunday or Monday options that were available to me. Because it offered the best chance of good weather, I chose the first of these. Many others did likewise, so the crossings were busy with queues for food service, especially on the morning sailing. Even so, efficiency and timeliness were the watchwords. On French side, that meant having plenty of buses available to convey passengers between the ship and the ferry terminal. It all allowed plenty of time to revisit somewhere that I had not frequented since my schooldays, and that was another attraction in going to Jersey in the first place.

Provision for day trips to Guernsey was not as extensive with only a Monday option working for me, though I seem to remember that there was a Thursday option too. Because the vessel was of a traditional type that also served Portsmouth, the food offer was better than on the catamaran that sped me to and from Saint-Malo. That was appreciated rather more than the delay to disembarkation that left me wondering how well St. Peter Port is for receiving foot passengers using minibuses. If the day had been brighter and drier, I might have on the outside deck more often. It probably was just as well that I was kept inside for getting something to eat; otherwise, I would have been torn between outside scenery ogling and the need to fuel myself.

The mix of Jersey island strolling and day-long getaways to other places all worked well. The weather may have been better earlier in the trip but even that was better than other locations that I considered. Transportation ran well in the main, with only ports and airports having any kind of untoward intrusion. This had been a worthwhile getaway.