Forty Shades of White, Orange and Brown: 40 Reasons to Praise Greater Manchester Transport

East of the M60‘s rundown of all things of a Greater Manchester Transport nature

8551 Leyland Atlantean ANA 551Y, Northern Counties body, Greater Manchester Transport (1981 livery)
Icon: bus, colour scheme and M-blem. Enough said.

Almost 40 years ago, the Lazy S of SELNEC would give way to the iconic M-blem. At one point, SELNEC’s successor was almost going to be known as ‘Manchester Metropolitan’ or ‘Metro’ (how much confusion would that have caused if the latter was adopted?), and have a different logo to the M-blem. Instead, also reflecting its influence from the newly formed Greater Manchester County Council, ‘Greater Manchester Transport’ was adopted.

From a personal view, also for the time as well, a real style icon. Oranges and browns galore, the tightly kerned Helvetica typeface, modernist design, and of course, the SELNEC and GMT standard double decker bus.

In no more than forty steps, here’s our Forty icons of Greater Manchester Transport, celebrating the 40th anniversary of its inception. Each listing is set in, as near as possible, chronological order of each event.

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  1. The M-blem: before the adoption of TfGM’s version, the M-blem was the third most recognised transport logo in the UK (British Rail’s double arrows and the London Underground logos were first and second). The M-blem was designed by Ken Hollick, a London based industrial designer, and outlived GMT by 25 years.
  2. Helvetica typeface: after using SELNEC Alpha (a custom typeface designed by Brunning, Manchester), GMT plumped for Helvetica, which would be used on almost everything from the M-blem to its timetables and signage.
  3. GM Publicity: another part of Greater Manchester Transport would be GM Publicity, the creative brains behind its posters, leaflets and timetables. Besides the buses and signage, Greater Manchester Transport’s modernist design principles would also be seen in its publicity material. The clean cut Helvetica typeface would be put to good use on informational displays, though there would always be room for fine art. Case in point with the pen drawings of the borough guides, or the dreamy background of the ‘Just Up Your Street’ poster. Today, Transport for Greater Manchester Marketing Communications continues this role.
  4. Bus Guides: instead of paid-for area timetables, Greater Manchester Transport opted for the more pocketable Bus Guides. Using the glorious Helvetica typeface, they would be printed in a single colour on glossy paper, often in maroon, purple, blue, green or red. Plus you could send off a rather natty ring binder to keep your timetables, hence the perforations on each guide.
  5. Ken Mortimer: the design genius behind the Mancunian style Leyland Atlanteans would also be the brains behind the 1981 livery. Other contributions would include the Express livery introduced in June 1986, months before the start of deregulation.
  6. The Trans-Lancs Vehicle Rally/Transport Show: in 1974, the first Trans-Lancs Vehicle Rally had a cavalcade of vintage restored buses along the 400 route from Bolton to Stockport. The route would later change with buses assembling at Heaton Park. Today, it is now known as the Trans-Lancs Transport Show and the rallying element ceased in 2011. Without the Trans-Lancs Vehicle Rally, there probably wouldn’t have been…
  7. The Greater Manchester Museum of Transport: opened in 1979 as a partnership between Greater Manchester Transport who owned part of the Boyle Street base next to Queens Road depot and the Greater Manchester Transport Society. It remains a popular attraction today with its host of special events and heritage bus shuttles on these days from Manchester Victoria railway station.
  8. Centreline: Greater Manchester’s first successful attempt at offering a cross-station bus service in Manchester city centre. Though created by SELNEC in late 1973 with a Centreline route around Bolton town centre, it came into its own in 1974 using Seddon Pennine IV midibuses. They were originally for a series of residential services (akin to for instance the 41 from Dukinfield, Tennyson Avenue) which would have been too narrow for standard buses.
  9. 200 Airport Express: starting from Manchester Victoria Station Approach, it was a precursor to today’s direct rail services to Manchester Airport, using specially branded coaches. There was few intermediate stops with the next stops being Piccadilly Gardens and the Trusthouse Forte Post House hotel in Northenden prior to arriving at Ringway. It was superseded by the 757 Airport Express which utilised coach seated Leyland Olympians.
  10. Joint operation with Mayne of Manchester: GMT retained the joint operational link with A. Mayne and Son, which stretched from the Manchester Corporation era on some routes along Ashton New Road. Prior to deregulation, SaverSeven passes and ClipperCards were accepted on their stage carriage services.
  11. SaverSeven tickets: launched in 1975 as a replacement for the Bus-Rail Season Ticket to reward regular bus users. At one time, available in four zones with bus travel throughout Greater Manchester and second class rail travel within one of more zones. Western and Eastern sections were added, and a fifth zone (covering New Mills) was added in 1985. In early days, there would also be Male and Female SaverSeven tickets (!). SaverMonthly and SaverAnnual tickets would later follow suit. They were replaced by today’s System One travel cards after 1995.
  12. The SaverSales Bus: where footfall wouldn’t guarantee the presence of a SaverSales office, some minor bus stations would see the arrival of a mobile SaverSales bus on certain days of the week. They would also call outside workplaces, in Trafford Park or other large industrial areas.
  13. Acquisition of Lancashire United Transport: prior to 1976, LUT was the UK’s largest independent bus operator with a footprint from Liverpool to Manchester, with its core area being Atherton, Leigh and Swinton. It was acquired in 1976 as a going concern with buses wearing a different version of the GMT livery – an all orange livery apart from a strip of white between top and bottom deck windows. In 1981, it was absorbed into GMT proper. LUT’s Atherton depot on Howe Bridge would remain in use till 1998 after two years under FirstGroup control.
  14. Metro Kiosks: before the early 1980s, Greater Manchester Transport/GMPTE used to run their own newsagent shops on their bus stations, known as Metro Kiosks. Each unit would sport the orange ‘Metro Kiosk’ or ‘Metro’ lettering in oblique Helvetica Black typeface (like Charterplan’s), or in the tightly kerned Helvetica Bold typeface. This would be prefaced with a brown M-blem in an orange circle. There was also Metro Flora shops, which as you may well have guessed, sold flowers at GMT’s bigger bus stations.
  15. The Foden-NC: after the consolidation of the GMT standard Leyland Atlantean and Daimler Fleetline, a joint partnership with Foden and Northern Counties would form part of a second generation GMT standard vehicle. Two were ordered in 1976, though would only remain in service till 1981.
  16. Interlink services: Launched in 1976 after the opening of Altrincham Interchange as a cluster of bus routes feeding into the bus/rail interchange from outlying parts of Altrincham. A typical three aperture display would see our indicators in white on black text, using the Transport typeface. Interlink services had yellow blinds with black text.
  17. Charterplan: taking over from SELNEC Travel, Charterplan was created as a commercially run coach hire arm of GMT. It would also absorb the Godfrey Abbott Group and Warburton’s Travel. As well as private charters, it would operate excursions, organise holiday breaks and be seen on National Express services. Its excursions and short breaks were taken over by National Holidays after the split of GM Buses.
  18. Dial a Ride: before LocalLink and Shopping Link became GMPTE’s/TfGM’s additions to Demand Responsive Travel, there was Dial-a-Ride. Passengers would book their journey by telephone up to 24 hours before travel within predetermined zones. Spun off from the Godfrey Abbott Group, operations began in Sale, which in 1975 had the highest number of households with telephones in the Greater Manchester area.
  19. Coaches to Paris: after acquiring the Godfrey Abbott Group, Greater Manchester Transport would be the first PTE operator to have an Anglo-French express link from Manchester to Paris.
  20. Tameside Garage: Greater Manchester Transport’s first purpose built bus garage, it replaced the two depots on Mossley Road (ex-Ashton-under-Lyne Corporation) and Tame Street (ex-SHMD Joint Board) in late 1977. Uniquely, waste oil from the buses would be used for heating the garage. A big version of the M-blem would look out to the River Tame towards Riverside (highly visible from a 346 or 351). It closed in 1991 and is used by Olympia Furnishings.
  21. Sounds in Motion: today, the only music you are likely to hear on the 236 is somebody’s smartphone. From 1978 to 1981, so long as you liked Dean Friedman’s Lucky Stars, Sounds in Motion meant piped music on the top deck of a GMT standard double decker bus, with adverts every so often.
  22. Rochdale Bus Station: in the midst of demolition at this very moment (new Rochdale Interchange opened in November 2013), but Essex Goodman and Suggitt’s magnum opus was pretty state of the art for 1978, with subways linking to each of the 26 stands, steps to the multi storey car park and footbridge access to the Rochdale Shopping Centre. It was also home to Rochdale MBC’s Council Offices.
  23. MCW Metrobuses: to make up for delivery delays at British Leyland over an order for Leyland Titans, Greater Manchester Transport turned to Washwood Heath and Metro Cammell Weymann, where the MCW Metrobus became GMT’s integral bus of choice from 1979 to 1983. In 1986 – 87, they were joined by coach seated variants for Express routes, bodied by Northern Counties.
  24. Arndale Bus Station: the closest Greater Manchester Transport passengers had to the subterranean joys of a trip to Birmingham New Street railway station (apart from Greengate and Chorlton Street perhaps). Its opening was delayed by insufficient clearances at the Cannon Street entrance. After opening in September 1979, a fair number of Bury, Bolton, Salford and Wigan services – mainly Lancashire United Transport routes would terminate there. Today, Nandos, Poundland and Bella Pasta are on the site of the former bus station.
  25. ClipperCards: before the Oyster Card, countless operators had self validating tickets for more sporadic passengers. Greater Manchester Transport’s was the ClipperCard launched in December 1979, offering ten journeys for the price of nine. For example, a 23p ClipperCard (Ashton – Dukinfield [Albion Hotel] fare rate on the 346 in 1979) would set you back £2.07. There was also Off-Peak (originally Shop ‘n’ Save), Teen Travel Club and Concessionary versions. They were discontinued in 2004.
  26. Stockport Bus Station: the first GMT bus station to adopt what would later become a prefabricated design repeated on numerous bus stations thereafter. The modular design by Essex Goodman and Suggitt was first used on Stockport bus station in late 1980, and would be repeated at subsequent bus stations including Wythenshawe (1982). Manchester Airport (1983), Ashton-under-Lyne (1985), Bolton Moor Lane (1987), Wigan (1987) and Leigh (1991).
  27. Open Top Bus Tours: sometimes in the summer months, open top vehicles would be seen in central Manchester on regular services.
  28. Football Match Buses Beyond Aytoun Street: for several years, right from the start of Manchester Corporation’s undertakings there has always been Football Match buses to Manchester City’s or Manchester United’s grounds from Aytoun Street or Piccadilly Gardens. In the early 1980s, this was joined by a number of match buses to Old Trafford or Maine Road outside Manchester city centre, such as a regular service to Old Trafford from Stalybridge and Dukinfield along the 220 route up to Mancunian Way. Today, most of Greater Manchester’s match buses depart from Piccadilly Gardens with for example Stagecoach Manchester running duplicates on the 216 to the Etihad Campus.
  29. The Wayfarer ticket: part of a plan to boost recreational transport, it was introduced in Spring 1981, offering unlimited bus and rail travel in Greater Manchester, plus most of Derbyshire covering the Peak National Park, parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. Discounts for certain attractions would be included, with the ticket in Adult, Child and Group versions. Covered Metrolink services since 1998, now available today from TfGM Travelshops and any shop in Greater Manchester with a PayPoint sign.
  30. The White, Orange and Brown livery: a colour combination which some regard as a 1970s relic, though for me, still the greatest combination committed to a service bus or three. Ever. Especially when combined with the M-blem of course. 1981 would see the first GMT livery of orange and white (with a deeper shade of orange than SELNEC’s sunglow orange) replaced by the ‘Jaffa cake’ livery. It was in use till 1989 when GM Buses launched a new orange and white livery with greater use of orange.
  31. The Teen Travel Club: if you were a 1980s bus passenger in your late teens, membership to the Teen Travel Club was almost a rite of passage. As well as a cheaper ClipperCard (and a 16 – 19 Bus Pass from January 1986), you could also enter competitions and be given a customer magazine every quarter or so. Nowadays, there is still a Young Persons’ pass available from System One Travelcards, available for 16 – 25 year olds.
  32. The 1982 Papal Visit: how many buses? Greater Manchester Transport literally pulled out the stops on the eve of Pope John Paul’s visit to Heaton Park. Special souvenir tickets were made available with buses from Glossop to Abbey Lakes and Macclesfield to Bacup deployed. There was also extra services on the Bury to Manchester Victoria line.
  33. The 1982 to 1986 Adult Fares Freeze: with Greater Manchester County Council changing over to Labour from Conservative the previous year, a fares rise under Sir Norman Fowler’s watch as Transport Minister saw a marked loss of patronage. For a limited time there was a Great Spring Fare Saving Promotion on Ashton New Road services. By 1982, single fares were frozen, and remained the same till May 1986. In four years, it led to a modest rise in patronage.
  34. Sunday Rover tickets: before multi-operator bus tickets became the norm after 1998, the Sunday Rover could enable you to ‘Hound Around For A Pound’ within Greater Manchester, on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Not only on GMT buses, but also those of National Bus Company subsidiaries and aboard West Yorkshire PTE’s 65 service up to Diggle. When released in 1982, they sold for 80p, then £1.00.
  35. Acquisition of Northern Counties: for a short time, the Wigan based bodybuilder was taken over by Greater Manchester PTE in 1983 becoming in effect GMT’s in-house bodybuilders.
  36. Travel Companions’ Club: also from 1983, The Travel Companions’ Club was the aged persons’ equivalent to The Teen Travel Club. Instead of being entered for a draw to win a Wham! album, they would meet up on sociable jollies to Tatton Park, Blackpool or the Isle of Man, often on a Charterplan coach.
  37. Free Travel for Under Fives: before 1984, children aged three and upwards would travel for child fares. This was changed to five years of age enabling any child born later than 1979 to travel free with accompanied parents (of course). The concessionary fare was 10p, with child concessions on buses after 2200 hours introduced in 1981.
  38. Localine: in a era before low floor buses were the norm, people with physical impairments were unable to board standard service buses. Augmenting its stage carriage routes, Greater Manchester Transport launched Localine services in Wythenshawe. Services were operated with Leyland Cubs with rear doors for wheelchair bound passengers.
  39. ‘They Cut The Fares, They Cut The Fuss’: in September 1985, for the first time ever, Greater Manchester Transport advertised its ClipperCard tickets on commercial television. The advertisement, using the slogan denoted in bold featured a pencil drawn animated Cheshire Cat, ending with the punchline ‘Get a ClipperCard and you’re laughing…’.
  40. The rebranding of Express routes: Greater Manchester Transport not only had express routes in the form of the 200, 400 and 500 services, but also limited stop routes like the 153 and the 236. Before June 1986 (Airport Express excepted), there wasn’t a generic express livery. Cue Ken Mortimer, a mainly peach livery with some orange and red vinyls on the brown skirt, and the Crillie Black typeface, red with black stroke. Mr Mortimer’s livery would see further use into the GM Buses era.

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Any More Suggestions?

Is there anything else you would like to add to the Forty Icons of Greater Manchester Transport? Or would you like to elaborate on the aforementioned forty? Feel free to comment in the usual fashion.

Most importantly, if you have any recollections as a member of staff or passenger in the GMT era, share and share alike. Race you to the queue for my SaverSeven at Whitefield Bus Station!

S.V., 25 March 2014.


17 thoughts on “Forty Shades of White, Orange and Brown: 40 Reasons to Praise Greater Manchester Transport

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    1. Hi James,

      Thanks for the update on Tameside Garage. I wonder who owns the premises now after Olympia’s departure, and as to whether it is it in restorable enough condition, as a possible future home for the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport?

      As to when Olympia Furnishing closed, it was early last year with the loss of all 135 jobs.

      Bye for now,



  1. I visited Manchester the other day by bus all the way from Leeds (via the transport museam up Cheadle Hill which is an excellent place by the way and thanks for the recommendation) and was a bit miffed on a few fronts. I came down from Huddersfield to Oldham on the 184, however even with a break up Marsden, I still found this route quite slow due to the many times it stopped. I’d have thought with the additional 180/4s it’d be a bit faster than it was, traffic lights from Oldham Mumps causing firther delays as well! Now First in conjunction with West Yorkshire’s Metro are looking at smart ticketing Oyster style, Metro have already started to convert paper tickets (Metro Cards) into plastic smart card format so I think they’re serious about pressing ahead with the scheme. This is something Manchester badly needs, the number of fare paying passengers on the 184 was high.

    My second gripe is the way lettered bus stops for Picadilly Gardens are classed as being in Picadilly Gardens when some are not. I intended to come back via Rochdale on the 24 and the Calder Valley routes 589/90/92 to Halifax, I found a guide in Picadilly with no map which said bus 24 stopped at stand F in Picadilly Gardens, however when I tried looking for the stop for route 24 I struggled with Manchester version of the alphabet because I couldn’t find stop F anywhere in Picadilly Gardens, I finally found an inspector who told me it was on the other side of the square down a street called Lever Street! This is also where stop E is hidden, not exactly obvious to an outsider. Now I will admit I did find a map whilst looking for the stop however I didn’t look at it as I rightly assumed it would be in the area around the bus station/tram stop and not in another street. Of course I missed the 24 so decided I’ll come back on the 184, now I did know where the 184 stop is (in Oldham Street) however this together with another stop is classed as Picadilly Gardens, It used to be classed in Metro timetables as Oldham Street however they too have called it Picadilly Gardens.

    My third gripe is an extreem lack of real time bus information on stops I used in Lever Street and Oldham street as well as other stops I noticed here and there. For someone who comes from a county where nearly every stop has real time information screens, especally in town and city centres, this is something of a shock. They say Manchester is advanced, sorry but cramped bus stops full of disorganised buses, no real time displays when you need them, a lack of organisation with bus stop lettering/classification, that’s really advanced.


    1. Hi Leeds,

      Couldn’t agree with you more on the loading times of the 184 services. I have caught it a few times from Oldham into Manchester and found it no faster than the 83 service. Furthermore, from my observations, cash seems to be king in Oldham and Tameside, though less so in the latter with MegaRiders and FirstWeeks popular options.

      At one time, the 180 and 184 services used to be limited stop; this arrangement ceased when the 429 and 427 (the all stops services to Greenfield and Diggle) services were withdrawn in 1997. Furthermore, the 184 worked with the 183 with both services having a circular section via the Saddleworth villages east of Lees and Greenacres. Today, the Dobcross – Waterhead section of the 183 and 184 forms part of the 350 service from Ashton to Oldham via Mossley. Plus, as you may well remember yourself, the Oldham – Huddersfield part of the 184 was the 365.

      Hopefully, Manchester’s answer to the Oyster should be ready for next year. However, I would love to see a Super Oyster for cross-boundary services (i.e. the 184 you describe, the 125 from Bolton to Preston, and the X43 Witch Way). Furthermore, Get Me There – when it arrives – would also be good for casual passengers, filling a gap lost by the demise of the ClipperCard.

      If you look at the bus stops around Manchester city centre, the ones besides the stands at Piccadilly Gardens and Shudehill Interchange are prefaced with ‘N’, ‘E’, ‘S’ and ‘W’ as in directions (with the ‘C’ prefacing City Centre stands other). All pretty easy if you understand the geography of Manchester city centre, but there is also a handful prefaced with ‘T’ to denote ‘temporary’ which are non-geographically specific.

      Before deregulation and the arrival of the Metrolink, Piccadilly Bus Station was denoted by means of colour coded zones. Therefore, the first stand on Red Zone would be ‘RA’, ‘YC’ for the third stand in Yellow Zone.

      At one time, there used to be a separate class of ‘A to Z’ stands at the Arndale, Lever Street and Victoria bus stations. Stevenson Square was meted with similarly, though the stands outside Manchester Victoria railway station would be ‘AA’, ‘AB’, as an exclave to the Victoria Bus Station which was actually in Salford (though only just).

      I totally agree with you on the state of real time information in TfGM boundaries, particularly given Manchester’s image as the Second City of the UK. Though Transport for Greater Manchester’s newer bus stations have adopted it, the lack of real time information on principal stops does get my goat. I would love to see RTI on the Albion Hotel stop in Dukinfield (my local one), which sees 10 bus movements per hour on Monday to Saturday daytimes. Likewise on smaller bus stations like those in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Stalybridge and Radcliffe.

      Perhaps (other than money), it might be the issue of sourcing information from the 40 or so operators in Greater Manchester. Yet, Metro West Yorkshire’s boundaries, of similar complexity to Greater Manchester has had RTI since the late 1990s. Nowadays, it is probably a lot easier with FirstGroup, Arriva and – though a late arrival – Stagecoach, using Twitter for service updates in Greater Manchester.

      One other final note, Metro should revert to using ‘Oldham Street’ instead of ‘Piccadilly Gardens’ on its 184 timetable. I would also like to see maps in Metro’s timetables which may assuage concerns with finding one’s way around Manchester (or to the Mancunian for example, any given part of West Yorkshire), yet Greater Manchester has had maps in their timetables since 1976.

      Bye for now,


      P.S. The Greater Manchester Museum of Transport is in ‘Cheetham’, not ‘Cheetham Hill’ nor ‘Cheadle Hill’. : – )


  2. The 500 Bolton – Airport was a good service. It was a shame that this was scrapped. I doubt that any of these services will be brought back in the near future. TfGM seem to be unable to stop the rot of cut backs that have set in. All we see are consolidation projects on the most major routes eg. First Rusholme. We don’t see anything of the scale that is required to get back to the good days of GM public transport.

    Presently under threat are the 12/25/26 – They want to re-route the 68 to take some of the 12’s route near Roe Green. They will have the X34 to cover boothstown during the day and the 33 in the evening and there’s talk of resurrecting the 39 day service to cover the latter part of the 12’s route.


    1. Hi Andy,

      I liked the 500 service, though I know GMPTE tried to come close to resurrecting the service in some way. Around 2008, there was much talk about creating orbital services or some sort of network to form an orbit. One part of the chain was a service from Sale to Stockport, with some speculation about a revived service from there to Bolton and – if my memory serves me right – either a revived 400 Trans-Lancs Express or improved connections with the incumbent 471, 409 and 330 services.

      Though the concept seemed to have sunk, with cross-city services proving more favourable of late, there was one service which came to fruition: the X5 from Sale to Stockport operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach, now operated by Stagecoach Manchester. The hourly daytime service is still subsidised by Transport for Greater Manchester, with a non-stop section between Sharston and Stockport along the M60.

      The recent revival of cross-city services, on a commercial basis, seems to have scotched a misnomer about their viability. Just to put the record straight, it was down to Manchester City Council, whom in 1995, banned cross-city services (till renewed came in 2008) to improve traffic circulation.

      I dread to think what dogs dinner the people in former LUT territory are about to receive. However, I have received news of a new 38 service about to begin operations in May. Operated by Stagecoach Manchester, it will start at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and terminate at Farnworth, going via Manchester City Centre, Swinton, Walkden and Little Hulton. This was announced on Stagecoach Manchester’s Twitter feed today!

      Bye for now,



  3. Hi Stuart, thought I’d offer a little more insight into the forthcoming changes in the former LUT area with First.

    . More reliable morning peak buses for Roe Green & Worsley with the provision of 2 Monday to Friday service 12 journeys that will start at Lumber Lane in Worsley at 0710 and 0802
    · New morning peak service 39 buses from Leigh at 0625, 0640 & 0655 to Manchester via Walkden which will replace 2 service 12 journeys starting from Leigh at 0625 and 0715
    · 68 service now rerouted to serve Roe Green in both directions to give customers a direct link to Bolton and additional links to the Trafford Centre, Eccles and Monton at all times
    · Boothstown will get an additional bus journey Monday to Friday with the X34 service from Leigh at 0625
    · New X34 journeys Monday to Friday at 0646 Pendleton to Leigh and 0842 Manchester to Leigh
    · New Saturday X34 journeys at 0758 & 0858 Pendleton to Leigh and 1745 Leigh to Manchester.

    I was hoping the 39 would be a little more than just a peak morning service, but I guess it is a start. I have deeply missed both the 35 and 39 for some years as well as the original 551, 552, 553 and 554 journeys.

    I was interested in hearing about the resurrection by Stagecoach of the 38 service, albeit a tad changed. Again, a service I used to use a lot when it ran to Westhoughton/Daisy Hill.

    Now that Stagecoach is gearing up for the A6 again, I wonder if they will begin to offer a little competition along the A666 route and bring back the 9, 21 or 28?

    It is a long time since I saw a Stagecoach bus in that area, not since the 25 and 27 ran full length from Bolton to Manchester by Ribble, then Bluebird. Both of which I used regularly when commuting to Hope Hospital from Bolton College on Manchester Road.

    I welcome any change that will bring more direct routes back. I’m not bothered which PRIVATE operator runs the route as long as it takes me where I want to go. Bring back PUBLICLY owned GMT/GM Buses I say!!!


    1. Won’t happen unfortunately. The viability of the 400 was destroyed by the M60, both in terms of losing adult (full fare paying) passengers to the car and the increased congestion, particularly at Heap Bridge and in Denton, that the M60 causes


  4. Hi Trystan,

    Where did you find out this service change information? The TfGM website seems to be void of such info.



    1. Direct from First Bus. I actually was amazed to get a response from the consultation regarding the service review on 12/25 and 26. I thought it was going to be a paper exercise.


  5. There is something further to add on changes expected, I had a leaflet dropped through my door today about the Leigh Guided Busway, Originally I had assumed the 32 would be converted to Busway operation, apparently not, Busway services using Atherton will terminate at Bag Lane Atherton according to PTE information, that there questions the viability of Services between Wigan and Atherton and Wigan and Manchester, as the Busway and the rail conection between Manchester – Atherton and Wigan would make any commercial venture on the 32 route as a parallel service unviable, that means Wigan may not have a direct bus link to Manchester and that there may only be a skeleton South Lancs service between Wigan and Atherton & Tyldesley, which seems pretty unusual to me when the simplest answer is surely to divert the 32 onto the Busway as a direct service.

    Also I suspect that competitive Cross City Services from FirstGroup and Stagecoach may cause issues, Oxford Road is already crammed with buses and every cross city route seems to end there, yet none have been put onto other Southern Corridors e.g to Tameside, Wythenshawe via Princess Road, Sale, Urmston or Stockport where there are also pickings to be had with Cross City Links.

    The risk is resources may be diverted by another Bus War and once operators try to pull back because of losing money we could end up with a fragmented un-intergrated network. I suspect the X34 journeys being added are a part response to the 38 being registered by Stagecoach, but something else will no doubt follow, and then in turn something else, garage space and staffing allowing. Incidentally where will the 38 be worked from as Sharston, Hyde Road, Middleton and Wigan theoretically could all work journeys on this?


    1. Surely, there is no reason why the 32 couldn’t simply join the Busway at Atherton, provided Stagecoach meet the quality criteria eg. Hybrid buses.

      The Cross city bus war will be limited, not so much because of Oxford Road, but because of TROs in the city centre itself.As regards other links, don’t forget Hyde Road and Ashton Old Road had cross city services until the 1995 City Centre Bus Strategy was put in place to meet the demands of Metrolink. I can see the possibility of First possibly wanting to go to Urmston or onto the 192, but the other areas you mention would be very unlikely due to Metrolink extensions or poor long-term demand.

      Finally, for those that don’t already know, the 38 is being run from Hyde Road depot. Also, the additional X34s are being run by Stagecoach, so are part of the same strategy (if there is one – lol) as the 38, not in response to it.


  6. Hi Stuart, I have fond memories of following several travel bus guides for teenagers in the early 80s. They were free publications from GMT. It stands in my memory as they were my first foray into independence by going off alone to travel by bus to Rochdale and Bury and the like.

    Possibly the ‘Adventurer Rider Club’? They were guides to destinations with some history, a map, which buses to catch etc. Typical bus pamphlet size and font from the era. I remember the Rochdale trip mentioned the Rochdale Pioneers/Coop. There was also a trip guide to the Dinting/Glossop area, which I never went on.

    Do you have any information on these? I can’t find anything on the internet.


    1. Hi GW,

      Well remembered! The club aimed at schoolchildren was the Adventure Rider Club and – yes indeed – it did have all the usual information focusing on trips out. As with the Travel Companions’ and Teen Travel clubs, members were sent newsletters. There was special excursions for Travel Companions’ club members, using Charterplan vehicles of course. The Teen Travel Club form invited members to list their favourite pop groups and/or singers. The 1985 leaflet had inside pictures of Wham!’s ‘Make It Big’ album and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’.

      Besides encouraging children to enjoy and get accustomed to GMT’s services, it enabled them to gain some interest in their immediate surroundings. Today, it is TfGM’s role to do just that, though minus today’s equivalent to the Adventure Travel Club. If Greater Manchester Transport was still around, there’s every chance its clubs would be harnessing social media. I wonder how well the Teen Travel Club would do in the era of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

      I would assume the Dinting/Glossop area guide would have covered Manor Park, the long closed Dinting Railway Centre and its open and indoor markets.

      If you look on, a fair few people have posted Greater Manchester Transport/GM Buses/SELNEC leaflets (myself included). There’s also a group entitled Lost Treasures of Greater Manchester Transport which I created.


      If you happen to live in Greater Manchester, you could always give the Museum of Transport in Cheetham a ring to book an appointment in the Museum Archives.

      Bye for now,



  7. Dear Stuart,

    Thanks for the prompt reply. I have checked out the links and I did spy the flyer for the Adventure Rider Club. I can’t recall if I actually joined but I do remember the pamphlets detailing the various outings.

    Perhaps these could be picked up from Ashton or another bus station at the time? I couldn’t see any of the pamphlets on the Flickr site – have you ever seen one? It would be great to one day revisit my teenage footsteps.. I remember the Rochdale Pioneers visit – as I learned for the first time about the Coop movement. I also visited Bury (from Dukinfield) on one of the trips. Certainly stood the test of time in my memory! I remember thinking what value for money I got for such a long journey. I can’t remember the fare as a teenager in the early 1980s – 10p?

    Many thanks


    1. Hello again GW,

      Among my collection of GMT/GM Buses/post-privatisation leaflets is the Adventure Rider Club leaflet that I pointed out earlier. Quoting from the leaflet (which shows a prototype Cabbage Patch Kid on the cover), you got on joining:

      • An Adventure Rider Club Travel Pack with several Adventure Rider Trails;
      • A sticker badge;
      • Its membership card;
      • A copy of its most recent newsletter.

      I would assume the leaflet with the Adventure Rider Trails may have been distributed to members of the club, rather than being made available at GMT’s information offices (in our case, next to the Metro Kiosk near Woolworths and Presto).

      From 1982, concessionary fare was 10p, before rising to 12p on the 16 May 1986 (I was nearly seven years old on that date). Therefore, a round trip to Bury Transport Museum would have been 40p based on boarding a 339, 340 or 346 into Ashton, then a 400 to Bury Interchange. Likewise with Rochdale on the 409 as well as the Trans-Lancs Express.

      You might like this snippet I found on the Adventure Rider Club from the Commercial Motor magazine archives:

      Bye for now,



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