My Life in the Company of Buses: Dukinfield and Bus Deregulation: Part 3, 1988

Routemasters and DMSs, oh my!!!

There was nothing unusual in my usual bus journeys. MCW Metrobuses were a staple of the 339, 340 and 346 routes. You could always guarantee a Leyland Atlantean or Olympian aboard the 343 route, but one thing you couldn’t envisage in Dukinfield were the arrival of AEC Routemasters.

My most unusual journey of the year started from Ewing School on a Little Gem minibus with the return leg covered by a Dennis Domino in Centreline livery. This was for a First Group outing to Hyde Road Depot in January. The visit involved going through a bus wash and a tour of the Bennett Street training area on a Leyland Atlantean. We returned to Ewing School with a goody bag (how I wish I kept my Little Gem keyring).

Meanwhile at West Didsbury, my relationship with the Palatine Road/Wilmslow Road services grew. In September, AEC Routemasters were seen on the 143. Happy bloomin’ days!

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If anything, competition in Dukinfield was static with the exception of Yew Tree Estate. The biggest change affecting the Tameside area was Mayne of Manchester’s increased presence, by means of finding niche markets. June 1988 saw the launch of Mayne’s 424 service. Operating every half hour, it would compete with the 409 from Ashton to Hathershaw, before turning right onto Fir Tree Avenue. A direct link between Ashton and Fitton Hill was made for the first time. The service was operated with middle-aged Bristol VRTs, though the end of 1988 saw the Daimler Fleetline DMSs as standard fare.

As of 1987, GM Buses dominated Dukinfield with the Bee Line Buzz Company in second place. The only inevitability in operations was that bus fares started rising on an annual basis. Instead of being modest rises (in comparison with inflation rates), fares rose by 10% on average – twice the 1988 rate of 4.9%.

With issues regarding through ticketing validity a major problem, a multi-operator bus only pass was introduced. Entitled the ‘Every Bus Saver’, it offered the same benefits as the SaverSeven, SaverMonthly and SaverAnnual cards, though without the rail element. At the time, there was also numerous single operator day saver and season tickets (such as GM Buses’ Busabout ticket) which – as is true to some extent today – a source of confusion. Even so, there was no cheaper day ticket for all bus operators than the Greater Manchester Wayfarer.

Further changes to Dukinfield’s network were around the corner.

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At Chez Vallantine, we made slightly more journeys than in 1987 on non-GM Buses vehicles. These included Citibus’ 419 service, which took the sting out of making three journeys to see my late Grandma in Chadderton. Prior to September 1988, we would change at Oldham for a 421 after getting a 409 or 410 to Shopping Giant.

My Auntie also moved to another part of Fitton Hill closer to the 424 route. Its half hourly service became a more attractive option than walking up Fir Tree Avenue after alighting a 409, 410 or 400 from Hathershaw.

Most memorable journeys of 1988:

  • The Ewing School trip to Hyde Road Depot on a Little Gem and a Centreline bus;
  • Mayne of Manchester’s Summer Holiday Express service to Colwyn Bay;
  • Aboard a Leyland Panther on Citibus’ 419 route to The Dog Inn, Chadderton;
  • October 1988’s journey to Manchester with Ewing School aboard an AEC Routemaster;
  • Daimler Fleetline DMS Heaven aboard the 424 on the Shortest Day.

Part Four follows tomorrow.

S.V., 03 October 2011.


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