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.