My Life in the Company of Buses: Dukinfield and Bus Deregulation: Part 7, 1992

Pennine Blue gains at expense of GM Buses’ rationalisation

1992 was a most eventful year for me, having spawned the loss of two honeymoon periods. The first was my honeymoon period at All Saints which resulted in continued taunts each day. The second honeymoon period was bus deregulation itself.

At Chez Vallantine, we were spoilt for choice. There was GM Buses’ 1 service to Ashton via King Street and the [Top] Astley Arms. Pine also turned their 1 service into the 50p Budget Bus. Then there was always the rolling bus museum that was Pennine Blue’s beautifully turned out blue and cream vehicles.

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The impact of GM Buses’ Tameside Garage closure was felt by many a Dukinfield bus user. GM Buses’ 346 service was reduced from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes. Pennine Blue filled in the gaps with a half hourly service. This meant a 15 minute daytime frequency which was maintained till May 2011. Sunday journeys on the 220 route were operated by C-Line, successors to Crosville in the Greater Manchester area, with Bristol VRTs and Eastern Coach Works bodied Leyland Olympians introduced to the route. A Saturday only route from Ashton to Stockport (along the 346 route), introduced by GM Buses was taken over by Pennine Blue.

Competition hotted up on the 1 route with GM Buses offering an alternative link to Ashton from Hyde. Pine’s P1 route was rebranded the Pine Budget Bus with former Ribble Zippy! Mercedes minibuses their weapon of choice. Three years on, Pennine would do the same with the 40 route.

Though GM Buses closed their Tameside Garage, there was still a sizeable presence with the launch of low-cost operating units offering lower pay rates and minibuses as standard. Bennett Street, Ardwick and Mumps Bridge, Oldham were among the depots a few yards from Hyde Road and Wallshaw Street respectively. Therefore, 1992 also saw GM Buses regain the Sunday 343 service, possibly through one of their low cost units.

If 1992 was hubristic, the following year would make that assumption an understatement.

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My Memorable Bus Journeys of 1992:

  • A far from bog standard 346 journey home aboard a former Leeds City Transport Jumbo Atlantean, head to head with a GM Buses vehicle;
  • A journey back from Manchester on a 219: with the 220 directly behind, Dad and I alighted at Openshaw Technical College to board 220 bus home.

Part Eight follows tomorrow.

S.V., 07 October 2011.

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