The Park Lane bus station opened in Sunderland in 2002 and has quickly grown to become the busiest bus station in the UK outside London. Local services into Sunderland bus station are operated by Stagecoach Sunderland, which runs buses to South Shields, Doxford Park and South Helton. The extensive bus network in Sunderland allows passengers easy travel in and out of the city centre and its university via the bus station. National coach services are offered by both the National Express network and Megabus, the Megabus service is limited to coaches travelling from Wales, London Victoria and Newcastle while National Express operates a more extensive service that includes coaches to Sunderland from Blackpool, Glasgow, Plymouth, Hull, London Victoria, Cambridge and many more destinations throughout the UK.
The city of Sunderland in the north east of England covers a large area of County Durham and is sometimes referred to as Sparta of the North. Despite not being well known for its literary roots, Sunderland is the location that inspired many of Lewis Carroll's works, and a statue of the Walrus from The Walrus and the Carpenter can be found in Mowbray Park. The artistic freedom found in Sunderland is best depicted in the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art within the city centre. Sunderland is also known for the ferocious support the local football team inspires, with Sunderland A.F.C. playing home games at The Stadium of Light. The Empire Theatre is incredibly popular, with touring companies bringing hits from the West End to its locals, and is thought to be home to the ghost of actor Sid James, who died during a performance at the Empire.
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