July Spawned a Monster
The commute to Manchester was going to be slightly harder after the end of 2007. Had swift intervention not applied, Stalybridge would have a worse connection with the Albion Hotel than Ullapool’s link with the Outer Hebrides. Though the 220 continued to serve me well, it still warranted a run from Stalybridge bus station to the railway station. Especially if it was held up by four traffic lights over its 1.9 mile journey, and a pelican crossing by The Pineapple.
* * *
2006 was quite sedate compared with 2007. Dukinfield was on the receiving end of her most swingeing service cuts since records began.
February 2007 saw First Manchester publicly announce the withdrawal of six ‘underperforming’ services. Two of which were in Dukinfield: the 343 and the 387. Leaflets were placed on buses informing passengers of the change. As a public relations exercise, it failed as only one was actually withdrawn (the 387). Another, the 33, was curtailed to operate between Manchester and Worsley. The 343 saw a change of operator.
Had the 343’s daytime service been withdrawn, Mossley bound passengers would have been forced to board the 349 to Carrbrook, changing for Mayne of Manchester’s 234 and 235 services. This incurred a financial penalty if the passenger had a FirstWeek pass. Numerous letters from disgruntled Mossley, Stalybridge and Dukinfield folk probably put paid to their plans, leading to a change of operator.
15 April 2007 saw the Monday to Saturday daytime service transferred to SpeedwellBus. Their white Optare Solos became a regular feature of the historic route – anathema to the faded double deckers and step entrance Darts which were commonplace. Sunday, evening and Bank Holiday services, plus two evening peak hour services were retained by First Pioneer, with one journey from Oldham to Mossley [Brookbottom] and a second from Oldham to Dukinfield [Albion Hotel].
The 387 was less fortunate with the Newton [Shaw Hall Estate] to Hyde section withdrawn. Therefore, the 387 service up to Newton and Hyde was rerouted to become another journey of the 389. The number 387 would be reallocated the following year for SpeedwellBus’ 238 service.
September saw changes to Stagecoach’s 389 service. This time it would cease to serve Marple. Instead it would terminate at Stockport, serving Lower Bredbury along the way. The ‘full fat’ 389 from Ashton to Marple would be operated by First Pioneer on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes as the 388.
By late October, the cuts continued. This time it affected the 349 which offered a half hourly service from the Albion Hotel to Stalybridge and Carrbrook. It offered an effective peak hour connection with Manchester Piccadilly, Victoria and Liverpool Lime Street trains. In its place was an extension of the 419 service from Middleton to Ashton. This offered a hourly service between Ashton and Stalybridge, along part of the 349 route. There was no proper peak hour service. On the other hand, its stablemate (the 348) saw its daytime frequency soar from every half hour to every 10 minutes. Its Sunday daytime service would also be upgraded, operating every half hour.
Meanwhile in Westminster, plans were afoot for a national concessionary fares system. It would offer free bus travel to persons over 60 years of age. The 2007 Concessionary Bus Travel Act gained Royal Assent on the 19 July.
* * *
My Most Memorable Bus Journey of 2007:
Once more, these were away from the GMPTE boundary.
- Liverpool Lime Street station to Pier Head – complete with suitcases – en route to the Isle of Man..
Part Twenty Three follows tomorrow.
S.V., 22 October 2011.