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