A Tameside Bus Service Changes Special Edition
Could this be the tip of the iceberg? We hope not, though this prophecy could well be true given Gideon’s penchant for shrinking the public sector to the size of a walnut. Therefore, from the 28 April 2014, the most tangible signs of George Osborne’s £1billion departmental savings, from the Autumn Statement will be seen in Dukinfield.
As detailed on East of the M60 earlier, Transport for Greater Manchester has been affected by this. Thus meaning cuts to existing service frequencies, or the non-renewal of expiring tenders. Even the withdrawal of some Local Link services. As the briefing for Friday’s meeting with the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee states, a great number of revisions will be taking place after the 27 April 2014.
The most perverse changes are set to happen in Dukinfield. From the 28 April 2014, it will become the second biggest urban centre in Greater Manchester without a full time, regular, direct service to Manchester city centre (the largest is Golborne with 23,119 people according to the 2001 Census). No buses from 0800 to 1910, to Manchester; only the peak hour 221s to Manchester in the morning and the return journeys in the evening. The only 220s left, at least for now, will be First Greater Manchester’s evening journeys from the top of Boyd’s Walk.
And no Sunday and Bank Holiday buses to Manchester city centre, either. For a town with 18,885 people, this is despicable. Dukinfield’s last trains left in 1959, and no-one – as yet – has suggested extending the Metrolink to Stalybridge via Boyd’s Walk and the Albion Hotel.
Instead of doing something I may regret outside Piccadilly Gardens for years to come, I shall save my anger for the dishonourable member for Tatton (and I will probably be more annoyed after Wednesday).
The 217/218 service is at present TfGM’s third most expensive tender. On Mondays to Saturdays, the full route east of Tameside Hospital and Stalybridge forms part of a loop via Mossley and Micklehurst. Whilst the tendering process was under way, the figures quoted by potential operators were double present rates. Notwithstanding the fact the full route required five vehicles.
In the end, it was cheaper to scrap the 217/218 route in its present form. Instead, the 217 would be retained, this time via its pre-2004 route between Ashton and Manchester, via Clayton, with an hourly frequency.
The daytime 217 service will be operated by S&S Travel Services, a newcomer to the Greater Manchester bus scene. In the last year, they have operated school services in Oldham using Blue Bird single decker buses, and bus replacement services.
Though First Greater Manchester’s evening 220s wont be affected, Checkmate Coaches’ two journeys on the 220 will be withdrawn. The 0753 journey from Manchester, Piccadilly Gardens to Tameside Hospital and its southbound 1455 counterpart will disappear after 26 April 2014. Also facing withdrawal will be the C20 service from Mossley to Manchester, which co-worked with the 220s to eliminate dead time.
What would have been more perverse than severed Mancunian links would be severed links between Droylsden and Stalybridge with Dukinfield. In place of the 217/218 will be an extended 408 service. At present, the 408 service operates between Stalybridge and Shaw (Buckstones) via Oldham, and is operated by Oldham and Dukinfield garages. From the 28 April, its new terminus will be Droylsden, by the Metrolink stop, where it will follow part of the present 217/218 service up to Stalybridge.
After Stalybridge, there will be no changes to the 408 service apart from its route around Tameside Hospital. From Montague Road, it will turn right onto Darnton Road then left onto Mellor Road, calling outside the South and North entrances of the Hartshead Building. Therefore, in spite of lost off-peak Mancunian connections, Dukinfield also regains a direct link to Tameside Hospital.
Not only Tameside Hospital, but also The Royal Oldham Hospital too; also a second bus per hour to Oldham town centre. For the first time in Dukinfield’s history, direct links with Royton and Shaw. Most importantly, transfer from bus to rail will be more seamless at Stalybridge (and given the changes, it needs to be, so long as the connections work out).
Dukinfield’s longest established link with Oldham, the 343, will see a route change on its Monday and Saturday daytime journeys. Brushes Estate, presently on the 217/218 services, will be part of the 343 route from the 29 April 2014.
It is anticipated, and has been recommended by TfGMC, that the Sunday and Bank Holiday services of the 408 would have a similar timetable to its Monday to Saturday equivalent. As soon as the timetables have been finalised, East of the M60 will state this in a future Tameside Bus Service Changes bulletin.
Summary (from 28 April 2014):
- 217: daytime journeys operated by S&S Travel Services, between Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester [Shudehill Interchange]: no change to existing evening service;
- 218: withdrawn: Droylsden – Stalybridge section replaced by extended First Greater Manchester 408 service;
- 220: Checkmate Coaches journeys withdrawn;
- 343: Monday to Saturday daytime journeys revised to operate via Brushes Estate, section hitherto part of 217/218 services;
- 408: terminus extended from Stalybridge bus station to Droylsden [Metrolink stop] via Audenshaw and Dukinfield. Route via Tameside Hospital revised;
- C20: withdrawal of commercial service necessitated by cessation of 220 journeys.
S.V., 17 March 2014.