An Arranged Divorce by Government Edict
1993 made 1992 seem quiet. Almost a year after subtly changing their livery and adding some new Scanias to the fleet, the re-elected Conservative government forced Greater Manchester Buses into an arranged divorce case. It was claimed that the very size of GM Buses ‘inhibited competition’. Like my rear end it did, considering that West Midlands Travel – biggest operation outside London – was able to keep its operations intact.
Puberty or the run-up to puberty was bad enough without an unnecessary reorganisation. Finding out about the split of GM Buses after a disastrous Christmas dinner at school was the last thing I wanted to hear on Granada Reports.
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The start of 1993 saw the absence of Pine Coaches from the Dukinfield bus scene. Dennis’s Coaches stepped in to fill the gap left by the P1. It did so by retaining the link with Morrisons’ forecourt and extending some of its 216 journeys to serve Dukinfield and Yew Tree. This gave Armadale Road a direct link to Manchester, and Dukinfield its first link with Droylsden.
On a less happier note, GM Buses pulled out of daytime operations on the 220 and 221 routes. January 1993 saw them transfer to Mayne of Manchester. The Sunday service followed suit a month later with Mayne operating most of the route apart from peak hour journeys. On a happier note, Dukinfield Town Hall became a stop on their revised 401 route. The revision saw Wigan shunned in favour of Bolton as its terminus, and an extension to Stockport in line with its senior stablemate, the 400. From Ashton, it would stop at the Town Hall before reaching Hyde bus station, Denton [Crown Point] and Stockport via Brinnington.
Pennine Blue consolidated its presence in what turned out to be its last year as an independent company. The end of 1993 saw a change of livery to the red and yellow of Potteries Motor Traction and the addition of a badger at the back sides of its vehicles. This feature denoted its ties to Badgerline, a big bus owning group whom in 1995 would form FirstBus on merging with the GRT Group. Their 334 route was merged with the 346 adding a Stockport extension to the latter route.
In nearby Hyde, GM Buses’ 204, 210 and 211 routes faced competition from Mybus since the start of the 1990s. This would come to an end at the close of 1993 as maintenance issues put paid to their operations. They would resurface in 1996 as UK North.
As with the day before deregulation, the day before the split of GM Buses seemed like a normal day, except with 68 different operators in Greater Manchester. Stuarts still competed with GM Buses on the 330, Pennine would co-exist quite amicably with them on the 346 route, and the 343 would still be the preserve of aging GMT standards.
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My Most Memorable Bus Journey of 1993:
- Granada Studios Tour, Easter Monday: 346 up to Ashton, 216 from Stand C to Manchester. Excellent outing spoiled by Dad getting chewing gum on his coat, on a nearly new Scania N113. At least Mayne’s 220 didn’t let us down on the way back, though hunger pangs meant the sharing of a cheapo easter egg at Piccadilly Gardens.
Part Nine follows tomorrow.
S.V., 08 October 2011.