Fear and Loathing It In John Dalton Street/StalyVegas (delete as appropriate)
The start of 2003 saw me settle into the role of Technical Assistant/SEO Consultant for a now leading search engine consultants in central Manchester. This meant a daily commute on the 220 and 221 routes with nothing but a bag, today’s Guardian and a hope that the seat above the back wheel of a Volvo B10M would be vacant.
Being a man of substation, the bus became a convenient way of connecting with the local rail network. The Young Persons’ Railcard finally found a good use, other than summer holiday transportational needs.
* * *
2003 would be symbolised by the demise of the Trans-Lancs Express as a network and the loss of the former North Western Road Car Company route from Manchester to Derby. May of 2003 saw First Manchester deregister the 400 and 401 [Bolton to Stockport] routes with the 500 [via Eccles] following shortly after. Horwich company Blue Bus and Coach took over the 400 service, with an hourly frequency on weekdays, and a two-hourly frequency on Saturdays. The success of the latter saw the Saturday frequency double to once hourly in September.
The X1 from Manchester to Derby had a worse fate. The full service was relegated to three return journeys on a summer Sunday from Manchester. Autumn saw its terminus moved to Stockport. Worse was to come the following year when it was split into three routes: Stockport to Macclesfield; Macclesfield to Ashbourne; and Ashbourne to Derby.
The close of 2002 saw the Hyde link of the 41 discontinued, with the service operating between Tennyson Avenue and Ashton. The Hyde section was replaced by the 42 between Newton and Hyde. This was withdrawn in autumn of 2003 with changes made to the 389 route. In place of the old 41 and 42 services came the 387, a rerouted 389 journey per hour serving Newton [Shaw Hall].
By 2003, Dennis’s ceased operations on the 330 and the 347 routes, focusing on its established 216 and 219 routes. Mayne of Manchester also withdrew their 221 route, leaving the 220 its sole Manchester connection from Dukinfield. The following year would see that route reduced further.
For the first time, Stagecoach Manchester introduced a Summer Timetable, taking advantage of the reduced traffic outside of schooldays. The 330, along with Ashton’s and Hyde’s trunk routes, would see faster journey times during the summer break. When Stagecoach reverted to the normal timetable, some peak hour journeys on the 220 and 221 were withdrawn. Significantly this included the loss of evening peak journeys from Stalybridge and most morning peak journeys from Manchester. All the former Universal Buses journeys remained, though the next part of the noughties would see operator revisions and withdrawals.
Another 238 was introduced in the same month of the 220’s revision. This time it served Hyde, Hattersley, Mottram and Ashton via Stalybridge, replacing the 201 and 219 extensions.
* * *
Working in Manchester had me more acquainted with the vagaries of city centre traffic. So much so I began to accept The Guardian as a better alternative to the Metro. I used the long bus journeys to write poetry, or read lengthier tomes. After buying Manchester Megariders on my first month of starting work, I went over to the System One Buscard and I didn’t look back: this meant a few scoops after work on Friday and the joys of First Pennine’s 220 thereafter.
Another thing I learned was the fact that the 153 was a better alternative to the 216. If I missed a 220 or 221, or caught a 346 or 349 to Ashton, I would wait for the 153 in Ashton, due to its faster journey times. Soon, I realised the joys of being in Manchester before 8 pm and a laid back yet faster way of getting to work.
My Most Memorable Bus Journeys of 2003:
- A post-pub journey on the 220 from Manchester: the journey itself was far from special, but best remembered for completing Donna Williams’ Somebody Somewhere (borrowed from The Central Library) on reaching the Top Astley;
- A slow journey from Manchester to Stalybridge on the 236 due to an accident on the M60. Stood me in good stead for slower journeys affected by Metrolink works five years later;
- Newton Abbot to Brixham on the 12 (Stagecoach Devon), after catching a 220 to Manchester Piccadilly railway station and boarding a train between Lancashire and Devon.
Part Nineteen follows tomorrow.
S.V., 18 October 2011.