Giving Change a Chance (or “Megarider…”)
The start of 1997 ended exactly as it began for me.
I was bored and workless.
And what did I do to quell this boredom?
At the start of 1997, it was for trying to rescue my engineering course and watching The Mighty Stalybridge Celtic. By December of 1997, it was for my City and Guilds course in Desk-Top-Publishing (which was more fruitful by turning myself into a Proud Mactard several years on) and the odd trip to the Job Centre (oh, and Stalybridge Celtic). With the budgetary demands of and the budget cuts of a Labour council under a Tory government, the newly renamed Manchester Megarider was my weapon of choice. And there were enough Stagecoach buses in Dukinfield for me to do just that. Only just.
* * *
Stagecoach Manchester began to make their mark even more on Greater Manchester’s bus network. The end of 1997 would see Alexander bodied Volvo Olympians and Alexander PS bodied Volvo B10Ms alongside GMT standards. Some of which, mainly the Leyland Atlanteans and older Leyland Olympians would see continued service for Stagecoach as ‘Magic Bus’ vehicles. Instead of the Starsky and Hutch-esque orange, red and blue relief on white, Magic Bus vehicles were given an all blue livery. The bulk of which appeared on the Wilmslow Road and Stockport Road corridors.
North of Ashton, FirstBus made cosmetic changes to its existent fleet. A new tangerine livery was introduced with the FirstBus logo and Greater Manchester text in navy blue. Some buses, particularly those in Wigan and Bolton would be given a golden livery with the navy blue lettering for their ‘Gold Service’ routes. Where some buses retained the GM Buses North livery, a white label with ‘Greater Manchester’ and the FirstBus logo in navy blue was superimposed on the GMN logo.
The former corridor faced competition from another upstart, UK North. Formed from the ashes of Mybus, they too used GMT standards in a mainly red livery. Finglands and Walls Coaches were among the others.
On the 330 route, it was still business as usual, though Pennine rerouted their 328 service from Ashton to Stockport via Brinnington along King Street and Globe Lane. Minor changes to the 221 saw Stagecoach Manchester relinquish a late morning peak journey to Mayne of Manchester. Instead of the competition hoped for by the previous government, mere tinkering was the rule in Dukinfield.
The following year would see the big bus owning groups gain further dominance, and Magic Bus hitting the Hyde Road and Ashton New Road corridors.
Part 12A follows tomorrow.
S.V., 12 October 2011.