Almost Full Circle
I was tiring of the indifferent commute to and from Altrincham, though this was compensated by the relaxed environment of my latest employer. Though the customers didn’t exactly come in thick and fast, it was good being able to drink tea with a kettle rather than a vending machine.
Then came the General Election. In some camps, particularly true blue Alty, Labour were as popular as the arrival of a Merseytravel PTE specification Pacer unit instead of a luxury coach on a rail replacement service.
08 May 2010: Hung Parliament. Choose wisely please, Mr Clegg…
11 May 2010, 1950 hours, The Houses of Parliament: ConDems sworn in; coalition between Conservatives and Lib Dems. OMG…
11 May 2010, 2150 hours: Looks like I’ll be out of a job next year, then?
You can guess the rest… like, will I still have a bus to catch in the next five years? Will my train fares be rising faster than interest rates or the readership of this blog?
* * *
2010 began almost the same way as 1986 ended. Our buses were still deregulated, the Tories were back in power (albeit as part of a coalition), plus unemployment and VAT was starting to rise again. Along with bus fares and service cuts. Of course.
In spite of this background, SpeedwellBus plugged away with the S50 service. Due to traffic problems on Ashton New Road, it was curtailed to run between Hey Farm and Ashton. Following the success of this route, they launched another SpeedwellValue route. This time, the S48 from Ashton to Carrbrook. As with the Mossley service last year, services began with free travel on the first week and a modest hourly frequency. This was upgraded to every 20 minutes, in line with the S50. The end of October would see the launch of their third SpeedwellValue route, the S49.
June saw the extension of Stott’s 41 route. Their weekday route absorbed the 337 service from Ashton to Crowhill offering Dukinfield residents a direct link with The March Hare and Crowhill estate. Both the 41 and 337 have interworked in the past, so Stott’s quite rightly made it one through service, so as to reduce layover time.
July saw a change of operator for the evening 346 service. New to stage carriage operations in Tameside, The Coachmasters have only been seen on rail replacement duties. Their bus début [for Dukinfield] was marked by new Enviro 200s and Plaxton Primos. As part of the GMPTE tender, the vehicle needed CCTV capabilities. This followed reports of antisocial behaviour along some sections of the route, which led to the previous operator [Checkmate Coaches] making occasional diversions.
Diversions of a more permanent nature would await the 343. This time, Staley Road and Carrbrook Village would return to SpeedwellBus’ route. Micklehurst Road would be omitted in favour of Hey Farm and Roaches (via The Dysarts Arms, The George Hotel and the Tollemache Arms). On JPT Travel’s route as well as Speedwell’s route, Micklehurst Road would no longer be served.
The future was also yellow for passengers of the 217 and 218 Sunday and Bank Holiday services. In October, JPT Travel took over the part route journeys of Stagecoach’s service. This was the third change to affect the route; July saw a change of terminus to Shudehill Interchange, and the curtailment of one 217 journey, finishing at Dukinfield Town Hall instead of Manchester.
October’s launch of the S49 route was SpeedwellBus’ first attempt at breaking First’s monopoly on the Ashton Road corridor. This started off as a Sundays only service, again with free travel on the first week.
The start of 2010 saw discussions over a Greater Manchester Combined Authority, effective from the following year. Part of this included the reorganisation of GMPTE/GMPTA into Transport for Greater Manchester and the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee. Due to a change of legal status, this also meant a break with a past, one which has served GMPTE so well since 1974…
* * *
My Most Memorable Bus Journeys of 2010:
Both away from the GMPTE boundary this time.
- The 2010 Arriva Tour – several Arriva depots visited in Dewsbury, Wakefield, Heckmondwike, Selby and Castleford;
- Hastings to Eastbourne on the 98 – a lovely ride through South Downs villages, though one to shun in favour of the 99 if in a hurry.
The Twenty Sixth and Final Part follows tomorrow.
S.V., 25 October 2011.