In Pictures Special: Middleton Bus Wars

East of the M60‘s last In Pictures Special of 2013

Over the last six months, there has been some competition between Stagecoach Manchester, JPT Travel and First Greater Manchester on services between Middleton and Manchester.

On the 17, JPT Travel has competed with First Greater Manchester with part route journeys between Middleton and Manchester [Shudehill Interchange]. This is set to finish on the 04 January 2014. Competition between JPT Travel and Stagecoach Manchester has remained buoyant on the 112 service. There has previously been competition between JPT and Bluebird Bus and Coach along the same service.

Will there be more of the same in 2014? We shall see. For the time being, here’s a few images from the last quarter of 2013.

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Optare Excel V386 KVY
A recent addition to JPT Travel’s cache of Optare Excels. This time, V386 KVY about to begin a northbound journey at Lever Street, Manchester.
Plaxton Centro, Stagecoach Manchester LL07 BLU, Middleton Bus Station
Seen at Middleton bus station is Plaxton Centro LL07 BLU, one of a number of vehicles inherited from Stagecoach Manchester’s acquisition of Bluebird Bus and Coach.
Volvo B9TL, First Greater Manchester MX07 BTE
JPT Travel have competed against First Greater Manchester in the last two years, on the 17 service with part route journeys. Seen here is a part route working of First Greater Manchester’s service, seen in a version of the Manchester City Transport livery.
Dennis Trident ALX400, Stagecoach Manchester, T651 KPU
Not inherited from Bluebird Bus and Coach, but third hand from Stagecoach South West. T651 KPU originally saw service with Stagecoach London and came to Stagecoach Manchester in 2012 to make up for the shortfall of some vehicles being deployed on Olympic Games duties.
Optare Excel, JPT Travel, S928 LBL, Middleton Bus Station
One of JPT Travel’s longer lived Optare Excels, seen at Middleton bus station. Since this picture was taken in late November, 171 (also known as ‘Gav jb’) has left the fleet.
Dennis Dart SLF, R562 XOM
Seen on Oldham Street is Dennis Dart SLF R562 XOM, previously of Travel Ludlows and Diamond Bus.
Transbus Enviro300, Stagecoach Manchester, MX57 OEL
Another vehicle inherited from Stagecoach Manchester’s acquisition of Bluebird Bus and Coach is MX57 OEL, a Transbus Enviro300. This vehicle, photographed from the exit of Manchester Arndale’s multi-storey car park is on a northbound journey.
Volvo B6LE ALX200, JPT Travel, P332 JND
Only sixteen years ago, this vehicle was often seen elsewhere in central Manchester: Piccadilly Gardens on the 216 service to Ashton-under-Lyne in Stagecoach livery. Today, it is often seen on the 112 as detailed here, and on Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys of the 217/218 services.

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There you have it, as a little bonus for you the reader, East of the M60‘s last post of 2013. We wish you all a Happy New Year. Here’s to 2014!

S.V., 31 December 2013.

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2 thoughts on “In Pictures Special: Middleton Bus Wars

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  1. The JPT vehicles look quite run down. Stagecoach have done quite a lot with Bluebird since take-over, as I understand it Bluebird where facing a number of issues that prompted the sale which First wasn’t too happy about as part of the agreement for the sale of Wigan was that Stagecoach didn’t compete with them for 12 months, however Stagecoach and First seem to have only stuck to this in Wigan itself. Recently Stagecoach’s Wigan depot sent quite a lot of 06 reg MAN’s to Middleton as they where needed for tenders there. Instead some X plate MAN’s where sourced from Stockport for Wigan.

    As for First it looks to be undergoing a transformation from the fleet enthusiasts love to hate as Worstbus to something quite decent. Giles Fearnley appears to be doing a decent job with its UK bus division and the change has started here in Manchester and in neighbouring West and South Yorkshire. Although some First vehicles are a little older than their Stagecoach equivalents there seems to have been significant effort put into plugging the gap with large batch’s of Volvo B7RLE’s, Volvo B9TL’s, Enviro E400’s and E300’s in recent years, along with some recent secondhand stock from other First Fleets. How Finglands operations pan out is anyone’s guess! Also the heritage liveries First have brought out are really good, The Lancashire United one is my personal favourite.

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    1. Hi Giles,

      Indeed they are. JPT Travel seem to have most of their older vehicles on the 112 service. Some of their older low floor rolling stock has been on tendered service too; en route to seeing Mossley A.F.C’s fixture versus Radcliffe Borough, I saw R562 XOM on a Hyde bound 343, but one of their Plaxton Primos on the 1650 Oldham – Hyde journey shortly after the game.

      I agree with you on the recent improvements with First Greater Manchester, even with the slight seniority in vehicle ages compared with Stagecoach Manchester. The Pioneer Depot Team’s fleet seems to be of comparable age to JPT Travel’s fleet with a fair number of pre-51 registration vehicles in regular service. This is more apparent on their 346 and 389 services, in spite of some ‘modernisation’ in the form of X-reg Marshall bodied Dennis Darts and three 56 reg examples from First Devon and Cornwall.

      I too love the heritage liveries, but the lack of a Pioneer Depot Team SHMD and/or Ashton-under-Lyne Corporation liveried Volvo B9TL is sadly missed. My favourites are the Bury Corporation, Salford City Transport and Manchester City Transport style liveries.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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