The World’s Our Bus Stop
I was falling out with the slower journey times on the 220 and 221 routes, so much so that from February 2005 I decided to purchase a System One Countycard. By doing this I gained access to the rail network, though still caught the bus home (owing to its convenience). For at least five years, I never looked back.
It was also the love of the iron road and circumvention of peak hour restrictions with this very ticket that allowed me to reach Hagley on the 11 May 2005. I paid for a Saver return from Stockport to Hagley, avoiding Virgin’s ridiculous peak hour restrictions for travelling from Manchester Piccadillly. The Countycard was useful on the eight miles from Piccadilly to Stockport.
On reaching Hagley at around 11 am, I continued my journey on foot to Lower Clent for Sunfield School. It was there when I saw Donna Williams [of Nobody Nowhere and Somebody Somewhere fame] for the first time.
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Unfortunately, the bus scene in Dukinfield and the rest of Tameside didn’t quite have the same dramatic ending after walking along the Bromsgrove Road to Lower Clent (no buses to that village hence the walk). Fare increases, acquisitions, withdrawals and retimings happened as they would normally do. Most of which happened between February and April.
January 2005 saw the omission of Ridge Hill from the 218 route. The only Manchester bound route servicing this area was the 220, with one am journey from Manchester and a return pm journey the opposite direction. The route was changed in Droylsden, this time with Greenside Lane no longer served.
In February, First Manchester was rocked by a cut in vehicle allocations following a VOSA inspection. To circumvent this, they resurrected the First Pioneer name, created on acquisition of Sports Tours’ [Pioneer Travel] bus operations in Rochdale. From then on, some buses with First Manchester legals had a ‘for hire to First Pioneer’ sticker on the windscreen, prior to receiving First Pioneer legals a month on. The whole operation was done with minimal effect to commercial and tendered services operated from their Dukinfield garage. The only exception to this concerned the evening 220 service. From the end of May, its Sunday evening service was taken over by JPT Travel. Bank Holiday evening services were discontinued on the 220 as a result; this was compensated (between Audenshaw and Manchester) by the return of Bank Holiday evening journeys on the busier 219 route.
April 2005 saw the end of Dennis’s Coaches’ bus operations, selling the business to Stagecoach. As a result, the Perth based giant had a virtual monopoly on Ashton New Road and Ashton Old Road. The 345, whose daytime service was put out to tender by Stagecoach and won by Dennis’s Coaches, became a Stagecoach route again. One year after the loss of the 400, they presided over the loss of another express route. This time, the 153.
The 153 was Mossley’s most direct bus into Manchester offering a real alternative to crowded trains. Launched in 1959 by Manchester Corporation, the 153 was a peak hour express route for the then new Carrbrook overspill estate. Its terminus moved to Mossley [Brookbottom] on deregulation day with an upgraded service. In 2005, it reverted to being a peak hour service with three am journeys to Manchester and three pm journeys to Mossley.
Stagecoach’s 238 service saw minor changes in the April of 2005. It was diverted to serve Tameside General Hospital offering a second more direct link with the hospital for Ridge Hill residents. By October 2006 it had changed operators; this time it was the fledgling Speedwell Private Hire.
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My Most Memorable Bus Journeys of 2005:
Again, most of my frutiful bus bashing kicks were away from the GMPTE boundary, apart from one circumnavigate in November 2005:
- Skegness to Chapel St. Leonards on a soggy Monday night in search of a pub;
- Skegness to Boston on a lovely old Hunts of Alford coach from the Embassy Centre;
- A seminal clockwise circumnavigate around Greater Manchester in what was then the coldest day of 2005, later entitled The World’s Our Bus Stop.
Part Twenty One follows tomorrow.
S.V., 20 October 2011.