My Life in the Company of Buses: Dukinfield and Bus Deregulation: Part 17, 2002

Where Did You Go On Your FirstDay? Halifax Bus Station.

The tedium of unemployment (following the end of my contract at Groundwork Tameside) and attending an interview skills workshop did more to quench my desire for longer distance bus travel. The willing was there, but the finances weren’t (though the Manchester Megarider sufficed on most occasions).

Then FirstGroup decided to extend the validity of their FirstDay ticket to cover West Yorkshire.

Bad. Move. Now, where’s that 562 from Oldham…?

*                    *                    *

From a operational point of view, 2002 was a stable one for Greater Manchester and Dukinfield. It was also the year of The XVII Commonwealth Games, which were held in Manchester. To meet the demand, extra buses were ordered by Stagecoach Manchester and First Manchester, for the ferrying of spectators and staff to and from the venues. For three weeks, Dukinfield benefited with its evening 220 service operating every half hour – double the usual frequency.

January 2002 saw Pennine gain the 220’s evening service. This would be followed by their acquisition of the 343’s Sunday service in autumn of this year. The norm would be Dennis Darts or Mercedes minibuses. On the down side, the 389 lost its full evening service with journeys finishing at Gee Cross instead of Marple. The Gee Cross to Marple section was replaced by a demand responsive transport service.

October saw the end of the 238, Ashton to Hattersley and Glossop circular (via King Street). This was replaced by a rejigged 397, operating between Hyde, Ashton and Tameside Hospital. The 239 compensated a little for the lost Ashton to Stalybridge and Mottram section, as did an extended version of the 201.

Dennis’s Coaches have in the last year expanded their operations and outgrew their Crickets Lane depot, in favour of a new site on Charles Street, Dukinfield. This was accompanied by the purchase of new single decker and double decker buses, mainly bodied by East Lancashire Coachbuilders. After upping the ante on Ashton New Road, Dennis’s Coaches decided to compete on the 330 and 347 routes. Secondhand purchases from The Go-Ahead Group (mainly Wright Handybus bodied Darts) enabled them to compete with Stagecoach on the 330 from Ashton to Hyde. On the 347, they would compete with their popular route and the last 1.5 miles of the 204 route from The Top House pub [Haughton Green] into Hyde.

FirstGroup’s progress in working on a national brand continued to pay dividends with their FirstDay ticket. Spring of 2002 saw them extend the validity of Greater Manchester’s ticket to West Yorkshire. Therefore the 365, 528, 562, 589, and 590 cross-boundary routes were available to anyone purchasing their FirstDay ticket on a 409 from Ashton or Oldham. This was accompanied by the FirstWeek and FirstMonth season tickets. Regular passengers could purchase a ticket for travel outside or inside the M60 motorway. Or, they could purchase one which covered both. Pennine routes too were covered, given that one of the first changes in their September 2000 acquisition concerned the ticket machines (ERG becoming the standard make). Prior to 2000, Pennine services used the Almex Timtronic machines.

Typical fare on the buses were Volvo B10Ms on Stagecoach’s peak hour 220s and 221s. Northern Counties MCW Metrobuses were seen on any First route other than the 400, with standard single deckers (instead of dual purpose ones) being seen. Leyland Olympians of Stagecoach and First varieties were a common sight on the 346 (with Stagecoach’s journeys co-working with the 236 and 237 routes). Former Brighton and Hove Scania N113s were a common sight on Mayne’s 220 journeys.

*                    *                    *

Due to unemployment, most of my journeys were for signing-on. Then there was the odd journey with my Dad and Stalybridge Celtic matches. The end of 2002 would see me looking forward to a new job in January 2003, and a strengthened bond with Greater Manchester’s bus network. Happy bloomin’ days, prepare to meet thy Buscard.

My Most Memorable Bus Journeys of 2002:

  • Halifax to Oldham on the 562 with hours to go before attending a Christmas do;
  • Brighouse to Chez Val (2002 Brighouse Brass Band Contest, Bethel Square) via Halifax and Oldham: missing the 343 home meant cheating a little by getting a taxi to Ashton and boarding the last 339 of the day (2215, Stagecoach Manchester, Sunday night).

Part Eighteen follows tomorrow.

S.V., 17 October 2011.

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5 thoughts on “My Life in the Company of Buses: Dukinfield and Bus Deregulation: Part 17, 2002

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  1. the 562 was going well till Oldham took it over and then they got rid of it all together

    when I used it the buses sometimes where full always got the 5pm one from Halifax on a Saturday and it was full they used scaina single decks 8601-10 when Halifax ran it

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  2. I liked travelling on the 562, so was unhappy to see it go 5 years ago. Used to use it to make my way into West Yorkshire. Also took advantage of using the FirstDay in West Yorkshire too. Good thing back then was that it was possible to travel from Oldham town centre to Leeds city centre in about two hours by catching the 562 to Halifax and then changing onto the M62 service to Leeds via Brighouse, which is not bad for £3-3.50, as it was back then. Have got good use out of a FirstDay Manchester ticket in West Yorkshire over the years (might not please the locals that its cheaper to travel in West Yorkshire on a Manchester FirstDay ticket (currently £4.20) than on a West Yorkshire FirstDay ticket (£4.30))

    The downfall with the 562 was using older buses on the route, which meant reliability would be an issue and the fact that between Moorside and Oldham, people would catch the 83, which meant it was virtually empty on the west side of the Pennines (the service got healthier loadings between Rishworth and Halifax)

    Always felt that they should have maybe extended the 83 from Sholver to Halifax, copying the 184 being extending to Huddersfield replacing the 365. Have it jointly operated by First Manchester and First West Yorkshire, in the same way as the 184 (alternating after every two journeys) and the journey times would be similar to the 184.

    184 is my local route and have travelled a lot on the route to/from Huddersfield (mainly for uni) and certainly noticed an increase of passengers travelling on the route than on the 365. 184 has the extra appeal of running to/from Manchester, which meant a bigger passenger catchment (seen people travelling from Manchester or Failsworth to Huddersfield). Plus the service had more of a appeal in Greater Manchester, as the 184 was a more recognisable service than the 365.

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  3. I like the B7s Huddersfield put on some times 32509-19 if using bus to Huddersfield would use theirs as they stay to time I have seen the Oldham based ones leave upper mill for Manchester at least 6 mins early a few times should leave at 23 past they go at 17-19 past

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  4. Hello Shaun and Mike,

    Like yourselves, I miss the joys of the 562, given that the alternative of travelling to Rochdale adds 30 – 45 minutes on the trip to Halifax. Older buses were a major issue of the route; though First Calderdale’s evening route had marginally newer buses, they were always well kept and made for a pleasurable journey. Even so, I loved boarding First Manchester’s Northern Counties bodied MCW Metrobuses in the tomato soup livery.

    Even if the service continued beyond 2006, another major issue would have been compensation for concessionary fares. This would have meant juggling with GMPTE’s and Metro West Yorkshire’s concessionary systems – no easy task in 2006 – and an even harder one if a child with an iGo pass chooses to make a cross-boundary journey (half fare within TfGM boundary, full fare outside). Not least the losses incurred by pensioners’ free travel between the boundaries.

    If brand recognition was an issue (562 in Greater Manchester in 2003 also meant Bolton to Withins Estate), perhaps they could have renumbered them as 82s or 83s. Or 407, taking on the number used by Stott’s daytime service from Denshaw to Oldham. There’s also another reason for the renumbering of the 365 as 184: local routes in the Colne Valley area were similarly renumbered between 181 and 186. Therefore, it made more sense to have the 184 linking both sides of the Pennines with, for example the 352 (Huddersfield – Slaithwaite – Marsden, Hard End) being renumbered 182.

    Supposing the 562 is still going, and that similar logic was applied with Oldham and Halifax routes, it would have confused Boltoners and Oldhamers alike if the Bolton set of route numbers were allocated to Oldham! Ditto the above with Rochdale, with the 528, 589 and 590 routes.

    Bye for now,

    Stuart.

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  5. Halifax and Todmordon depots had some good buses on the above routes even Todmordon livery leporad 8534 was on the 562 once I loved travelling on the leporad coaches my fav was 1529 which had a leyland Tiger bottom front

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