My Life in the Company of Buses: Dukinfield and Bus Deregulation: Part 21, 2006

If Anything, More of the Same

Still working for the same company in Manchester, the train moved towards becoming my main form of transport. Not only was this true of my commutes, it was also true of my more pleasurable outings. As for the bus, short journeys to the railway station, though there was a number of exceptions to that rule.

Following three years in Manchester and increased HTML and CSS coding skills, I built my own website in January. Then I followed it up with this little blog, which is now a cross between Buses Magazine and The Daily Mirror. Only with due emphasis on parts of Oldham, Rochdale, Tameside and Stockport east of the M60 motorway.

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2006 was a quiet old year compared with the hubris of the previous one. Fares still went up, services were retimed and the odd one may have been withdrawn along the way. By contrast, the following year would prove to be rumbustious.

The biggest event affecting Dukinfield passengers concerned users of the 330 and the 346. The MAN single deckers proved to be inadequate for some journeys of the 330 route. In their place came Alexander Dennis ALX400 (Enviro 400) double deckers. Within five years, they would become Stagecoach’s standard low floor double decker, replacing step entrance Olympians. Fans of the step entrance Olympian and Scania N113 buses would have been placated by the 236, 237 and Mayne’s 218 routes.

On the 346, low floor vehicles were introduced on Stagecoach’s route. Most of which included MANs displaced from the 330 route and modern single deckers inherited from Dennis’s Coaches. Though their 220 route wasn’t 100% low floor, Enviro 400s made cameo appearances.

By contrast, First Pioneer’s service offered passengers a mix of step entrance and low floor Dennis Darts. On the 346 and 349 services, they became the standard single decker. Dennis Arrows started to put in an appearance, having replaced the Hong King tri-axle buses, which at that time moved to Great Yarmouth’s Blue Bus depot.

Changes to cross boundary services in April 2006 saw the demise of the 562 from Oldham to Halifax. Operated by First Manchester, the service over its last year was rerouted to serve Royal Oldham Hospital taking in Royton and cutting out Ripponden Road south of Sholver. In the evenings and Sundays it offered a two hour frequency (operated by First Calderline) with a hourly Monday to Saturday daytime frequency. It offered an alternative route into Halifax for Oldhamers reluctant to change at Rochdale or Huddersfield. The Oldham to Denshaw section was replaced by the 407 service, which additionally called at Pennine Meadows estate.

Speedwell’s West Yorkshire adventure was over in autumn 2006 with their Sunday operation of the 365 service from Oldham to Huddersfield withdrawn. At the same time as the 562’s withdrawal, First Huddersfield’s 365 service was absorbed by First Manchester’s 184 route. This combination allowed for a direct route from Manchester to Huddersfield via Hollins Road, Oldham and Uppermill. The Sunday service followed suit, putting to an end Speedwell’s adventure on Marsden Moor.

Closer to home, the 339 and the 340 followed the 365 and 562 into the Great Bus Terminus in the Sky (aka Cheltenham Coach Station or Lower Mosley Street). In its place was the stronger 41 service. In the daytime, it was operated on a half hourly basis by Speedwell, with hourly evening journeys operated by First Pioneer. Speedwell took over the daytime journeys in July with First’s Sunday and Bank Holiday service following suit in late September.

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My Most Memorable Bus Journeys of 2006:

Again, most of my frutiful bus bashing kicks were away from the GMPTE boundary. This time, Norfolk was the source of these jaunts:

  • Great Yarmouth to Winterton-on-Sea – aboard a former First Pennine tri-axle Olympian;
  • Great Yarmouth to Cromer – 90 minutes of North Norfolk scenery on a bumpy MAN 11.190/Optare Vecta single decker.

Part Twenty Two follows tomorrow.

S.V., 21 October 2011.

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5 thoughts on “My Life in the Company of Buses: Dukinfield and Bus Deregulation: Part 21, 2006

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  1. I remember seeing the Enviro400s for the first time, when they were confined to the 192 route. In August of the above year had made the trip to Manchester on the first 221 of the day on Stagecoach 18379, an Alexander Dennis Trident/ALX400. I spotted 19009, among others, with its modern curved glassy front, then the “smiling” bottom rear windscreen. I was absolutely mesmerised at them, and then wondered when we Tamesiders would get them! I didn’t realise that they’d be everywhere in GM South territory within a couple of years! The first one I saw in Tameside was 19066, on a 216 at Ashton about a month or so later. The earlier half of the year, with Speedwell still pumping out nice Solos, I had enjoyed these on many a journey to my then home in Gee Cross near Backbower, listening to the often funny chatter between regular passengers and a very friendly regular driver called Emma. I often chose the 342/344 service she drove, over the oft late Stagecoach 346. 2006 was the year I ended high school, I moved to Dukinfield in early August, (and so can relate to this even more!), and started an NVQ in Business Admin at Age Concern Training Ashton (which would the following year result in me being taken on as “Office Assistant” at what to the present day remains my current employer) with an absolutely fantastic trainer called Alan. At the training centre, and at my first placement at a small housing association office also in Ashton, if I finished my work early I could leave early, resulting in some great bus bashing opportunities taken up, including one outing taking in Uppermill (350), the City Centre (184) and Sale (Finglands 41), as well as hour-long lunch breaks sat with either a pastie from Greggs, a jacket potato from Mr. Spud or an egg, bacon and sausage muffin from Mr. Chips, at the gardens near the Burlington or the sheltered bench by Wellington Road, watching the buses go by. Mornings would entail either the 330 or, again, Speedwell’s Solos and couple of great regular drivers, this time on the 41. The good life on this course would continue into ’07. I apologise for writing an essay! I do remember the 339 and 340, in the final weeks/monts before withdrawal.

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    1. Hi Mark,

      I had the same sort of feeling as yourself when I boarded my first Enviro 400 on the 1743 (Piccadilly – Stalybridge) 220 route, and was amazed by the smooth ride quality. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the 08 – 10 Reg Enviro 400s; quality control in that department had slackened with the ride quality nowhere near as smooth as the 2006 models.

      I’ve yet to have the joys of Mr Spud in Ashton-under-Lyne; Sorrento’s Café or Hanson’s are too tempting! Dishy’s (now Sandwich Pound) remains a popular haunt for bus spotting bacon butty scoffers (I’m getting hungry just thinking about it).

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  2. The 184 extension to Huddersfield happened in 2004, as I remember it happened a few years after starting uni at Huddersfield and the extension allowed me to travel from home to uni on one bus. The Sunday extension happened in 2006

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    1. Bang on, Shaun. I also remember that between 2004 and 2006, SpeedwellBus operated the Sunday and Bank Holiday service. Hence that service being numbered 365 on these days till April 2006.

      Stuart.

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