217/218 and 343 Re-routing: Tameside Bus Service Changes Extra

Almost 30 years to the day when the 416 (Oldham – Mossley) joined up with the 343 (Mossley – Hyde), Tameside’s most changed (citation needed) bus route is to get another change to its route.

Having seen five changes throughout 2009 alone, Speedwell Bus’ weekday daytime service of the 343 route will be rerouted away from a section of Huddersfield Road (between Staley Road and Winterford Road), and will no longer serve Egmont Street. Instead (using the Oldham route as example), it will turn left after the Stamford Arms towards Staley Road, then Station Road and Winterford Road before turning left at Mossley Hollins School, continuing to Well I’Th’ Hole Road junction. From there it will turn left at The George, serving Roaches Lock via Manchester Road before turning right at Mossley railway station to continue along the current route for Top Mossley and Oldham.

Whereas this revision improves connections between Hyde, Stalybridge and Dukinfield with Friezland and Roaches, the negative side is a much more convoluted route from The Stamford Arms and Bottom Mossley at The Commercial Inn end of the town. Passengers for the ‘Best o’ Brass’, ‘The Britannia Inn’ and ‘The Friendship’ pubs and the Country Style Café may be better off alighting at the stop nearest Raja Bros (Cheshire Street) then walking towards the New Bridge Inn and Waggon Road. The impatient amongst us may be best following this route and rejoining the 343 at the stop outside The Britannia Inn pub!

Another downside is the loss of a direct link from Richmond Crescent with Oldham, leaving passengers with no option but to walk to Mossley Hollins school or The Stamford Arms. Reassuringly, the 217/218 will be virtually unchanged around the Huddersfield Road area. The only change which will be made is a change of terminus at Manchester.

Instead of Piccadilly Gardens, the 217/218 will terminate at Shudehill Interchange, former terminus of Mayne of Manchester’s 232 – 235 routes in the company’s twilight years as a bus operator. This will improve connections between Dukinfield, Stalybridge and Mossley with the Northern Quarter plus Bury and Altrincham bound Metrolink trams, Megabus.com coach services and Terravision’s shuttle service to Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

The Evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday 343 route will continue to serve Huddersfield Road up to Winterford Road and Egmont Street, as has been the case since its 1950s origins as SHMD route 4A. Both [217/218/343] services will be allocated an extra bus to improve timekeeping on the routes, frequently held up by schools traffic. Changes will be effective from the 26 July this year.

Whether the rerouting of the 343 during the weekdays would have a positive effect on passenger numbers remains to be seen. I think any growth may be modest, though I can imagine it reverting to First Pioneer’s route by the end of this year at the earliest.

Postscript: the changes will come into effect 30 years and 6 days on from the major changes made to Mossley’s bus network by Greater Manchester Transport. As well as the formation of today’s 343 route, it also involved substantial changes and simplification to Mossley’s links with Saddleworth. A future post on East of the M60 will focus on that footnote in Mossley’s transport history.

S.V., 02 July 2010.

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8 thoughts on “217/218 and 343 Re-routing: Tameside Bus Service Changes Extra

  1. Hello again Stuart,
    Me again :)

    I wasn’t going to comment on the 343 as its a route ive never used, but must try some time!

    From what ive read and heard about these changes, the hope is that by making these changes GMITA are hoping they can increase passenger numbers and also the performance of the daytime 343.
    The re-routing of this service does seem a little baffling given that the evening and weekend services will remain unchanged but GMITA will have carried out research before making these changes and im sure given time it MAY work.

    On another note, slightly off topic. I managed to catch the Checkmates C20 home this afternoon and was surprised that along the way it picked up a very good load and by the time it reached Ashton there were no empty seats. Not bad for a postioning journey!

    All the best Stuart,
    FelixFind

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  2. Hello,

    Good to hear about checkmates hefty passenger numbers, independents need it. How much is it to board the C20?
    Monday is the start of the full S48, and I wonder what will happen to the 343 timetable as a result? and the single 344 journey?

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  3. Hi William.

    Im not sure on Checkmates fares on the C20 as i used my Any Bus day saver but someone did get on in Openshaw with a Stagecoach Daysaver and the driver let him on. What i find interesting is by the end of week 1 Checkmate’s C20 had a full load, now i wonder if Speedwell had run to a similar route, ie along Ashton Old Road and then along Lord Sheldon way into Ashton, would there S50 have done better?

    But as you say William its good Checkmate have made it work. Oh by the way, the C20 DOES run into Ashton Bus Station and not past it. Apparently Checkmate made a mistake when registering the service and it was too late to correct it as timetables had already been printed.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with the 343. The changes are crucial to insure the service carries as many passengers as possible but i can see the axe falling on it in the near future.

    FelixFind

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  4. I do apologise for sharing your comments a bit later than normal. I had been busy doing some serious track-bashing on the East Lancashire Railway, celebrating their Diesel Weekend. On the following day I went to Brighouse to see the excellent hymn and march contest there.

    @FelixFind: Though I’m a little sceptical, I do hope the diversion works well, though the most confusing aspect would be the variation of route in the evenings, Sundays and Bank Holidays. I would assume that the variation is to compensate for the lack of evening service on the 217/218 (other than the short 217 from Ashton to Manchester).

    Weighing up any further advantages, I realised that the new route will improve access between Dukinfield and the following CAMRA Good Beer Guide listed pubs: The Dysarts Arms; The Tollemache Arms; and The Britannia Inn. Stalybridge Labour Club is also CAMRA listed and on the 343 route. Perhaps the 343 route could be used to promote CAMRA listed pubs for the benefit of walkers and real ale enthusiasts!

    @William: I am glad to hear positive reports about Checkmate’s C20 service. It is high time that Mossley had a fast bus route into Manchester again; running via Mossley Road rather than Huddersfield Road is a much better move. At about 0725 hours, the train to Manchester Victoria from Mossley is packed. Therefore, the C20 could capitalise on this. I would also like to know how many more people started getting the train from Mossley to Manchester Victoria following the withdrawal of the 153 service?

    I would assume that the 344 may retain its existing route. I have a feeling it may follow the new 343 route when the new Mossley Hollins School building opens.

    Bye for now,

    Stuart.

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  5. Hello,

    Looks as if the 343 is good for pub crawls lol I wonder if Checkmate would add to the C20, but then again they only have enough room for 4 buses I think.

    If there was an express service, it would have a lettered prefix i.e. X16, X19, X50 etc A problem with the 153 was alot of customers were upset with the limited stops, but who knows.

    The train station in Mossley needs a higher frequency, it is getting to the point were typically quiet journeys are rammed. The problem is the lack of free time and carriages, maybe Transpennine Express could bring a train an hour or something? a connection to Piccadilly would be great. I do recall, during the blizzard, the Hull train stopping in Mossley and that was a great surprise.

    Lets see what happens

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  6. Hi William,

    You are not kidding about the Mossley services. Whilst I was en-route to Brighouse yesterday, I saw no less than 50 persons lining the Manchester platform. Mossley definitely needs a frequency akin to Stalybridge and Ashton on the local services, but the track paths on the double line are limited. Hence the hourly frequency, as it is shared with 4 Transpennine Express services per hour in the (Monday – Saturday) daytime and the odd freight train.

    With hindsight, closing the Stalybridge – Micklehurst – Diggle line was short-sighted, but BR did not anticipate the amount of rail traffic and patronage which Mossley would get in 2010. Nor did they anticipate bus deregulation and the rail revival caused by the former.

    I didn’t know that people were upset by the 153 being a limited stop route. I sometimes used to catch it to Manchester over the 216/219 routes which would take 50 minutes in the peak hour from Ashton (unlike 25 minutes on the 153).

    Perhaps advertising a few bus routes as being good for pub crawls should be considered. In West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire, local CAMRA Branches advertise and organise crawls along bus routes. They even advertise which ticket should be purchase and state which operator runs the service(s).

    Bye for now,

    Stuart.

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  7. Hello again,

    I do prefer getting the train to Manchester because it is quite cheap, but that incentive will be outweighed by the minimal space and having to stand for about 25 minutes. I do think there must be a way for Transpennine Express to drop 1 train in Mossley, surely. I am aware of that classic rail line, although I’ve never seen it, and it sounds absolutely great for this time. Then again Mossley had a tram service 100 years ago and now they cost Billions to build now.

    I remember the odd occasion on the 153 when the odd individual wanted to go up to Every street or that area and ended up in Droylsden lol I was only a kid then but my parents remember it well and they thought it was quite funny. It may have led to a build in complaints though.

    It couldn’t hurt with both First/JPT/Speedwell promoting that idea along with the pubs, and maybe a heftier passenger could build, I mean the numbers shouldn’t drop atleast and there’s no harm going for it. If there’s a build then all for the better.

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  8. Hi William,

    It is probably down to the wherewithal of the companies to promote the pubs on their routes. The problem is that pubs can change hands or open and close as often as bus companies revise their routes. I know for sure that the Stockport CAMRA branch have published pub guides with reference to bus and train routes. These have been done in co-operation with GMPTE.

    I’ve always remembered the 153 as going via Ashton Old Road. Could it have been a diversion? There was one instance in December 2004 where Ashton Old Road had to be sealed off due to a potentially exploding gas cylinder. That morning – and also the evening peak – saw traffic chaos along Grey Mare Lane, Pollard Street, Every Street and Ashton New Road. It was that bad I decided to continue my journey towards Oxford Street on foot from Great Ancoats Street.

    I doubt as if I could see Transpennine Express adding a stop at Mossley – unless it was on, for example, any service that didn’t stop at Stalybridge (i.e Newcastle Central, Middlesbrough or Hull Paragon trains).

    Perhaps I should take a lead in building a website or blog on the 343 route with reference to the pubs. For the sake of time constraints, a WordPress/Blogger one seems likely and more approachable.

    Bye for now,

    Stuart.

    P.S.: Since my earlier comment, I have since started work on the site. It is entitled ‘The 343 Bus Appreciation Society‘. Enjoy!

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