First Greater Manchester Finds Cheaper Way Up Town

Lower season tickets and day rover tickets slated for 18 November 2012.

First Greater Manchester, Enviro 400 SN12 AOF, Oldham Bus Station
Between Bardsley and the Summit, passengers on the 409 can benefit from First Greater Manchester’s new FirstWeekOldham and FirstDayOldham tickets.

In the last decade, First Greater Manchester (and First Manchester before then) has often been associated with high fares, old buses and poor timekeeping by the travelling public. Whereas most folk at FirstGroup Towers up in Aberdeen would like to forget 2012 with great relish, it has been quite a good year for its Greater Manchester operation. Not to be content with the arrival of Enviro400s, the cascading of Volvo B9TLs to Dukinfield and its new livery, our fellows in Greater Manchester are seeing out 2012 on a high by lowering travel costs for most of its passengers.If you happen to live inside the M60 motorway and/or inside Oldham Council boundaries, say hello to cheaper weekly travel, or a cheap trip from Failsworth to Dumplington. Or Prestwich to Burnage. With money tight among us all, any price cut is welcome. As for cheaper bus fares? Even more so.

From the 18 November, First Greater Manchester will introduce four new local tickets: two FirstDay rover tickets and two FirstWeek season tickets:

  • FirstDayOldham and FirstDayM60: £3.90;
  • FirstWeekOldham and FirstWeekM60: £13.00.

Compared with First Greater Manchester’s standard FirstDay and FirstWeek tickets, passengers save 60p or £5.00, so long as journeys are either made inside the M60 motorway or the Oldham Council boundaries. Therefore, anyone wishing to travel to Bolton, Bury, Rochdale or Ashton-under-Lyne may need to purchase the bog standard FirstDay/FirstWeek/FirstMonth tickets. Therefore, using the FirstDayOldham or FirstWeekOldham, passengers can travel between these points on the following cross-boundary routes:

  • 24: Up to Thornham (Summit);
  • 58, 181, 182: Up to Jubilee (Milnrow Road);
  • 64: Up to Mills Hill (Railway Station);
  • 184: Up to Diggle (Great Western Hotel);
  • 343: Up to Grotton (Under Lane/Quickedge Lane);
  • 350 and 354: Up to Friezland (Royal George Hotel);
  • 353: Up to Grasscroft (Mossley Road);
  • 408: Lees New Road (outside Cockfields Farm garden centre);
  • 409: Bardsley (Kerfoots’ works) – Thornham (Summit);
  • 415: Up to Middleton Junction;
  • 419: Mills Hill (Railway Station) and Bardsley (Kerfoots’ works);

What’s more, the FirstDayOldham and FirstWeekOldham tickets are valid on the entire route of all Manchester bound services starting anywhere in the Oldham Council boundaries, which also includes the X84, 181 and 182 as well as the 81, 81A, 83, 180 and 184 routes.

It is hoped that the FirstDayOldham and FirstWeekOldham tickets would lead to similar tickets being launched in Rochdale, Bury, Ashton-under-Lyne and Bolton. Oldham’s launch came about following passengers’ requests and the council’s ‘Fares Fair’, where it was stated that Oldhamers paid 50% more for single operator season tickets compared with their peers in Hyde and Stockport. Neighbouring West Yorkshire, FirstGroup territory for a similar period of time as Oldham, has had cheaper local tickets alongside more expensive whole area tickets for around a decade.

Even so, area specific tickets aren’t a new innovation to its area, hitherto covered by GM Buses North. FirstGroup’s own offerings included the Tripper 7 season ticket for First Pennine passengers; the FirstWeek and FirstMonth tickets originally had versions for travel inside or outside the M60 as well as all zones passes. Before FirstBus, GM Buses North’s Big Orange tickets included area specific ‘segments’ and ‘slices’, with Bury and Moston having such tickets.

At present, there are still discounted season tickets and day rovers available for passengers using the 17 from Rochdale to Manchester, and an Ashton day ticket for First Pioneer’s 348 and 350 routes between Mossley and Ashton-under-Lyne.

We shall see if the experiment pays off. In Oldham, First Greater Manchester has competition with the Metrolink as well as Stagecoach Manchester’s upgraded 76, so the results should be interesting.

S.V., 09 November 2012.

Update: First Greater Manchester have extended the FirstDay M60, FirstWeek M60, FirstDay Oldham and FirstWeek Oldham ticket offers till the 30th April 2013. Happy days!

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11 thoughts on “First Greater Manchester Finds Cheaper Way Up Town

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  1. First in Wigan have expensive fares, unreliable services run by old vehicles. Investment in the Wigan fleet has been virtually non existent for several years. I’m so glad Stagecoach are soon to take over the Wigan operations. Now we may get a service network that is worth using. Good riddance to First.

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    1. Hi Jim,

      Like myself, you would be no stranger to the differences between First’s operations in Wigan and Stagecoach Manchester’s. The situation in Wigan was also true of Tameside till the fleet was modernised by means of Solo SR hybrids and 08 reg Volvo B9TLs. Even so, there are still a few old Dennis Dart SLFs on the 346 and 389 routes.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Wiganers returned to their buses in great numbers once the white, orange, red and blue swirls usurp Barbie. On odd trips to Wigan, I’ve seen buses which looked like hand me downs from my local garage in Dukinfield (and they dumped most of their older P-reg Darts and R/S-reg Arrows to other depots)! Though good for the enthusiasts, older buses will never ever be a selling point to regular passengers, let alone casual users. Poorly maintained instead of immaculately maintained older buses, even less so.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      P.S. You may be interested in my recent article on Stagecoach Manchester’s acquisition of First’s Wigan operation: https://mancunian1001.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/wigan-depot-defects-to-stagecoach-manchester/

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      1. Hi James,

        I thought First Greater Manchester still did the 348/350 day return tickets but wasn’t too sure if they still did them (many thanks for confirming this). I’ve also noticed that Fitton Hill and Holts Estate passengers still have a special rover ticket for the whole route of the 425. Therefore, there’s still other Cheaper Ways of Going Up Town along with the new offerings due this coming Sunday.

        Bye for now,

        Stuart.

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  2. Leaflets on buses and webpages about the new tickets. The FirstDayOldham and FirstWeekOldham tickets are only valid on services 24, 82N, 83, 180, 181, 182, 184 and X84 to/from Manchester. 81/81A only valid to Owler Lane (just before Moston), although people living on Owler Lane will have the choice between the two.

    Tickets are only valid until 31 January 2013 at the moment, but wouldn’t be surprised if they’re extended beyond the date.

    http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/greater_manchester/tickets/save_manchester/
    http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/greater_manchester/tickets/save_oldham/

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    1. Hi Shaun,

      I’ve picked my leaflet up from a 409 this morning. The neo-Communist/Socialist style of design is a real departure from the Barbie colours which characterise FirstGroup (and I love it). I too wouldn’t be surprised if the scheme was extended beyond January 2013. Not least the political will and potential public support likely to warrant its retention.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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