Bus Route Wonders of Greater Manchester #6: 22, Bolton – Stretford – Stockport

The Sixth of East of the M60’s Seven Bus Route Wonders of the Greater Manchester area

There is only a small number of bus routes in Greater Manchester which traverse both FirstGroup and Stagecoach territory (and one of them was our second route). One recent development has been the extension of First Greater Manchester’s 18 route to Rusholme. Our sixth route is one of Greater Manchester’s longest routes, taking 2 hours and 1 minute from end to end.

Brief History:

The original 22 route was jointly operated with the North Western Road Car Company and Manchester Corporation. It operated between Levenshulme and Eccles via Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and converted from a tram route between 1938 and 1939.

Under Greater Manchester Transport and GM Buses, the route was extended at both points: northward to Bolton from Eccles, and eastward from Levenshulme to Stockport. The link with the Lloyd Road terminus was discontinued. Since deregulation, it had a number of operators as well as GM Buses and today’s successors.

Today’s service reaches Stockport via Burnage Lane and Heaton Moor, whereas the Bolton section north of Eccles takes in Swinton and Farnworth. There are three different operators, though unlike the 343 (which has one for evenings, weekdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays), some odd sections of the half hourly journey are covered by different operators.


First Greater Manchester runs most of the service, but a smattering of journeys during lunchtimes and peak hours are operated by Stagecoach in Manchester. Late evening journeys are operated by Manchester Community Transport.

Basic Frequency: every half hour; hourly on evening journeys.


  • Local History and Art: Stockport and Bolton have good art galleries a short walk away. In Stockport, there’s the Hatworks and Staircase House.
  • Real Ale: Chorlton-cum-Hardy is a real sensory overload for real ales, with the Sedge Lynn (a JD Wetherspoon house), Dulcimer and Font Bar to name a few. Stockport and Bolton are also happy hunting grounds for cask conditioned ales.
  • Shopping: The 22 links a great many local and regional shopping centres, including The Trafford Centre. Also on the route is Merseyway and Stretford Arndale shopping centres as well as local facilities in Farnworth, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Heaton Moor, Swinton and Urmston. Why not look at the quaint shops or visit the Unicorn Grocery if you alight in Chorlton? Or visit traditional markets in Stockport, Urmston, Farnworth and Bolton.
  • Live Performance: The Bolton Octagon, plus Stockport’s Garrick and Plaza theatres are at the northern and southern termini of this route. Chorlton-cum-Hardy also has vibrant pubs and bars with live music (i.e. Dulcimer’s folk nights). Occasional live events take place at The Trafford Centre.
  • Family Entertainment: the Grand Central complex in Stockport has a Cineworld multiplex cinema as well as its two theatres. If you alight at The Trafford Centre on the 22, you are a short walk away from the up and coming Sea Life Centre, The Chill Factor and Legoland.

Best Value Fares: to get the best value of your journey aboard the 22, go for any of System One’s day tickets, such as the Any Bus DaySaver at £5.00 (or £5.60 before 0930 on Monday – Fridays).

Travel Tips: The 22 is not the most scenic of routes. Unless you like the urban nature of the route, I recommend taking a good book.

S.V., 04 May 2013.


2 thoughts on “Bus Route Wonders of Greater Manchester #6: 22, Bolton – Stretford – Stockport

Add yours

  1. I have heard rumours that this service is on its last legs. Some have suggested it will become a Bolton – Trafford Centre Service, linking up with the likes of the 23 at the Trafford Centre to do the Stockport leg of the journey.


  2. I came across a 22 timetable the other day and looked at it quite confused as to why there was a smattering of Stagecoach journeys in with First.

    Then it hit me – back in the Greater Manchester Transport days it must have been organised to be operated (presumably) by Bolton depot. But that would have meant that there would be no early morning services from Stockport – hence that depot was tasked with running a couple of buses on the route.

    And so it continues today. And so Stagecoach run the first three buses from Stockport, which then come back, then head off to Bolton again, and so on and so on, whilst First do the rest.

    That it’s still running that way in this era of deregulation is amazing.


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