But before you get too excited, kindly read on

Manchester Community Transport Mercedes BV10 KJY, Oldham Bus Station
‘That MCW Metrobus hasn’t half shrunk in the bus wash’ – and it would take a Doctor Who style regeneration for it to change livery as well! Today’s 400 has been allocated to Oldham’s Metroshuttle service, sponsored by TfGM and Oldham Council.

For the first time since September 2004, there will be a 400 service operating from Oldham. However, passengers anticipating the return of the Trans-Lancs Express service from Bolton to Stockport and Manchester Airport should consider themselves disappointed.

Instead, the number 400 has been allocated by Transport for Greater Manchester for Oldham’s Metroshuttle service, which began operations yesterday (30 July 2012). The circular service will operate between 0930 and 1600 seven days a week, including Bank Holidays.

Operated by Manchester Community Transport, it aims to link Oldhamers with the temporary Metrolink station at Oldham Mumps from the bus station on Cheapside (Stand C) via St. Mary’s Way and Yorkshire Street. From Oldham Mumps, it returns to the bus station via Oldham Way and Manchester Street. With recent news over personal security issues at the stop, it aims to assuage these. Furthermore, it is a viable alternative to the longish walk in to the town centre for Metrolink passengers.

The service is sponsored by Transport for Greater Manchester and Oldham Council, operating every half hour. It is one of three Metroshuttle free bus services operated outside Manchester city centre. The other two outside Manchester are the 300 in Stockport and the 500 in Bolton.

East of the M60 took a trip along the new Metroshuttle service today, so we shall round off this post with a few mementoes of our journey.

Metroshuttle Timetable, Oldham Bus Station
Temporary timetable seen at Stand C of Oldham Bus Station.
Manchester Community Transport Mercedes BV10 KJY, Oldham Mumps Metrolink station
Your carriage awaits: the Mercedes bus used on the second day of Manchester Community Transport’s Oldham Metroshuttle operations outside Oldham Mumps station.
Oldham Mumps Metrolink station and Flexity Swift M5000 3017
‘Now I stand here waiting…’: Flexity Swift M5000 3017 at the Oldham Mumps Metrolink station bound for St. Werburgh’s Road.
Oldham Mumps TfGM bus stop flag
‘What can’t speak can’t lie’ – yes, that bus stop really does say ‘400’, but you need to change at Victoria for Bury or Bolton. Still, the Metroshuttle will connect with the 409 to Rochdale or Ashton (though you need to change at the latter for Stockport and Denton).
Metroshuttle Oldham timetable, Yorkshire Street
Official publicity for the Oldham Metroshuttle, seen at Yorkshire Street.

S.V., 31 July 2012.

12 thoughts on “400 Bus Returns to Oldham

  1. Hmmm… off peak, every 30 minutes, gap at lunchtime, operated using an 8-seater van? Not very appealing though!

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    1. Hi Nicholas,

      On my journey, I overheard references to them getting one of their Optare Solos on the route for future weeks. However, there was a sticker on the rear of the Mercedes which had the TfGM and Oldham Council insignia on the back. I suppose they may be testing the water with the smaller vans (which carry 15 on standard seats and 17 including two tip-up seats). Owing to the small size, I thought we were back to the good old days of The Bee Line Buzz Company!

      Vehicular shortcomings aside, they had no problem sticking to the schedule and the Oldham Way worked in our favour. Today’s Oldham Evening Chronicle had positive feedback from persons boarding the route yesterday, and photographs of the Mercedes vehicle on the front page and the fourth page.

      There is an abridged version of the original article on their website, and more cynical readers’ comments:
      http://www.oldham-chronicle.co.uk/news-features/8/news-headlines/72001/free-shuttle-bus-is-a-winner-with-the-public

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  2. Oldham Council says in its press release from last week that ‘the operator’ will use its own vehicle until mid-September ‘when it will then be replaced by a fully-branded vehicle, supplied by Transport for Greater Manchester’. They may be the hybrids used on the 9 in Salford, which will be withdrawn and replaced by the 50 at the beginning of September.

    As an Oldhamer, it’s good to have the Metroshuttle link between the tram stop and the town centre. It was never the best of walks from the old train station. Certainly can’t be good for the less-mobile person. Just a shame that it’s not a frequent service, as if you just miss one, there’s quite a long wait til the next one but I suppose it’s understandable given the short-term nature of the service starting. Hopefully, if the initial service proves popular, the service will grow with more and bigger buses used.

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    1. Hi Shaun,

      Fully agree with your comments. I too didn’t think the Mercedes vehicle would be a permanent solution, though some may sneer at it not being a slightly bigger minibus (i.e Optare Solo or Wright Streetlite). As TfGM own the vehicles used on the outgoing 9 service, I too can imagine them being on St Mary’s Way by September. I doubt as if they’ll change the pink livery being as the publicity is in Oldham Council’s corporate colours. (Then again, I suppose shocking pink would be a natural progression from the maroon and cream and the Pommard and Devon Cream Oldham Corporation Transport liveries).

      The walk into Oldham town centre from Oldham Mumps has always been dodgy, this being a causal affect of the Oldham Way’s construction in the early 1970s. It was worse when passengers had to use the subway (particularly at nighttime). It was quite forbidding in daytime, especially for lone passengers (now I know why my late Grandma used Oldham Werneth, as well as its proximity to her house at the time).

      We mustn’t forget that Stockport’s Metroshuttle had worse teething troubles since 2009 (with operator changes), though under Stagecoach’s tutelage it has consolidated well into the average Stopfordian’s transport habits. My ride was very good, well driven and the driver was friendly – friendly enough to allow me to photograph the image of the Mercedes outside Oldham Mumps station today. I think the joys of not needing to cross Oldham Way – and a fast journey to the bus station – should be enough to ensure its success.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  3. The number given to the service should not be all that surprising as it follows the same “00” ending as those in Stockport and Bolton. Still, Oldham Mumps has always been somewhat of a distance from the main core large-size retail units, so this service is indeed something well worth having until the Metrolink is actually running on the route through Oldham town centre.

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    1. Hi Paul,

      Indeed it isn’t too surprising, not least the fact the first number is consistent with the 1973 renumbering scheme (hence Bolton’s 500 and Stockport’s 300). I suppose that numbering future Metroshuttle routes in Bury and Wigan may be a little harder as 480 and 600 are already in use by service buses to Bolton and Leigh (perhaps 470 could be used for Bury’s with Wigan’s being 660).

      To be honest, there should have been at least one local service (possibly the Holts Estate routes or the 16 which forms part of today’s 343 route) – pre-Metrolink era, after the opening of Oldham Way in the early 1970s – which stopped at the forecourt of Oldham Mumps station. From the SELNEC era onwards, there never was. From the station, they could have ran non-stop to The Star Inn, turning around at the Market Place and stopping at George Street (outside St. Peter’s Precinct). It might have helped the then-British Rail London Midland Region service gain more passengers from Oldham Mumps.

      Therefore, long overdue for Oldham, some 41 years or so late I would say.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  4. And there was me getting so excited… and then I read on haha. Will we ever see a return of the 400/401?? As for the number 9 being replaced by the 50, I found out 2 weeks ago from my pa as he works at TfGM 🙂 I think it’s good that Stagecoach are now making inroads into First territory, maybe WORST will pull there tyres up and be more inventive. I am not impressed with them reducing the Leigh – Manchester routes (12 & 26) to hourly side thoughts that are now difficult to catch due to them being restricted stops. At one time the 26 was an every 15 minute express service and well used. GRRR! Oh how I wish for GMT to return.

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    1. Hi Trystan,

      I would assume that the student market and MediaCityUK would be a natural place for Stagecoach Manchester’s bid to compete against First Manchester. The extension of the 50 to MediaCityUK would also make getting to South Manchester easier for Salfordians, as well as allowing passengers from East Didsbury or Burnage to get to the Lowry Centre without cross-city transfers. Not least the fact that top whack single fares on Stagecoach Manchester is much cheaper than First Manchester’s!

      Though I would love to see the Trans-Lancs Express back, its problem is that most of the journeys can now be made on other forms of transport – including more frequent bus routes – more quickly and effectively. Bolton to Stockport by rail: 40 minutes if you play your trains right; Bury to Ashton-under-Lyne, 45 minutes if your train synchronises well with the tram. Bus lanes on the A627/A671 now means off-peak journeys on the 409 between Ashton and Rochdale run almost as fast as the 400 did in 1996. The lack of its unique selling point (a plush link to Manchester Airport) went when Ringway’s railway line opened in 1994.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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      1. Thanks for that Stuart. I suppose you are right regarding the Trans-lancs. I guess there aren’t that many people like us who like to take a refreshing ride round the county on a well earned day off. The 400/401 made it so easy in not having to keep changing buses. Being able to sit up top (When First ran deckers on the route) with a packed lunch and taking in all the surroundings with no interruptions or getting wet if raining was a plus of the 400/401. Same as the 22. I still like to have a trundle down to Stocky on that one and get the 330 back to Ashton, then the 409 to Rochdale and then either the 471 or 510 back to Bolton.

        I did a mammoth 15 bus journeys yesterday, all for the price of £4.80, you just couldn’t do it in a car for cheaper. I shall be embarking on another cram packed full day using the TfGM Wayfarer ticket at some point in September, hopefully ending up in Buxton on the train and then Crich via the Derbyshire bus network to visit the National Tramway Museum. All for the price of £10, again you could not do that in the car. I’m also looking forward to the introduction of the ‘Readycard’ which should hopefully standardise fare structures in Greater Manchester and then it won’t matter which bus company takes on a route thus making cross city travel even easier.

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  5. I meant either a 471 all the way back to Bolton from Rochdale or get the 471 or 469 from Rochdale to Bury and then a 510 to Bolton.

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    1. Hi Trystan,

      I agree most definitely with your third sentence: ‘ a refreshing ride round the county on a well earned day off’ – not least best enjoyed by the Northern Counties bodied MCW Metrobuses. The Superbus branded Volvos were good, but had inferior legroom and harder seats.

      The 22 is a good route for similar reasons to the original 400. Though shorter, I recommend the 247 from Altrincham to Eccles, particularly for the section between Broadheath and Flixton via Partington. Ditto the above with the 350 from Ashton-under-Lyne to Oldham (best bit is between Mossley and Waterhead via the Saddleworth villages, and the view of Hartshead Pike after passing Tameside Hospital), the 343 from Oldham to Hyde, and the 217/218 between Dukinfield and Ashton-under-Lyne (217/218/343 routes go via Dukinfield, Stalybridge, Carrbrook and Mossley; 343 now via Hey Farm and Roaches as well as Stalybridge and Carrbrook prior to reaching Mossley).

      I’ve done many a circumnavigation on Greater Manchester’s buses, most of which on my System One Buscard or CountyCard. Here’s a link to my 2005 circumnavigate (http://www.stuartvallantine.co.uk/articles001.htm) and another detailing journeys made in 1996 (http://www.stuartvallantine.co.uk/articles007.htm).

      I too eagerly await the MancOyster, not so much for being able to board as many company’s buses but also the ability to transfer between modes with significant financial penalty. At present, a Buscard user would have to pay extra tram/train fare if he or she wishes to go from Hyde to Bury (should they choose to eschew the 201/206 and 135 or the 330, 409 and 471).

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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