Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, Spring 2015: Local Services Slashed

Plus: some severance of links with Tameside and Saddleworth areas

  • Off-peak cuts to 408 service;
  • Frequency reductions for 402. 406, and 410/411 circular routes;
  • 6pm curfew for 353 and 354 services;
  • 64 curtailed to Higher Blackley, though replaced by new route.
Volvo B7RLE First Greater Manchester, MX05 CHJ, Oldham bus station
Chopped and changed: the 408 service, on the receiving end of Oldham’s service changes.

Whereas its neighbours in the Tameside area have been royally shafted, the government’s attack on hardworking bus users has left a comparatively slight dent on Oldham and Saddleworth’s bus network.

The borough’s most significant changes affect a number of First Greater Manchester routes, three of which link the borough with Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge. Two in Saddleworth are set to lose their evening journeys, whereas one is set to see a change of operator.

Oldham changes

For almost a year, the 408 service, has linked Shaw and Oldham with Dukinfield, Droylsden and Audenshaw. This, compensated for the loss of the 217/218 services in the Tameside area, within Mossley, Stalybridge and Dukinfield. From April, the Droylsden to Stalybridge section will be discontinued, along with changes to five off-peak return journeys. Therefore, ten journeys will only operate on part of the route from Buckstones to Oldham, with peak hour connections along the full route to Stalybridge.

Whereas First Greater Manchester will operate on Monday to Saturday daytimes, Manchester Community Transport will operate the 408’s evening journeys. Stagecoach Manchester will operate Sunday and Bank Holiday services, but journeys will no longer serve the grounds of Royal Oldham Hospital.

The 64 service, which serves Chadderton Hall Park and Middleton before continuing to Manchester, is set to be withdrawn north of Higher Blackley. In its place, a new 412 service, operated by three companies: the present operators of the 64 (First Greater Manchester), Stagecoach Manchester, and Manchester Community Transport.

The 81A, sister route to the 81 route into Derker, will see its evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys taken over by Stagecoach Manchester.

Other than the Stagecoach’s 81A, their 343s will also be seen on Lees on a Tuesday night. Major changes to the 17 mile route from Hyde to Oldham will see Stott’s Tours take over the Saturday daytime service. Evenings, Sundays and Bank Holidays will see Stagecoach Manchester buses.

From April, all journeys of the 343 service will observe the present daytime route via Roaches Lock and Staley Road. Sunday, Bank Holiday and evening journeys will be extended to Gee Cross via Waverley Road, terminating at The Grapes Hotel. This takes over part of First Greater Manchester’s Hyde to Gee Cross section of their 389 service.

As with the Tameside area, a number of local services have seen their frequencies slashed. Once again, Manchester Community Transport has become the biggest beneficiary. The 410A and 411A will be incorporated into the 410 and 411 services, with the circular routes via Clarksfield, Roundthorn and Waterhead slashed to once hourly. This is also true of Royton Circular routes 402 and 406, and the 419 service from Ashton-under-Lyne to Middleton, via Chadderton. Its link with Firwood Park will be restored.

Saddleworth changes

Denshaw’s only bus route from Oldham is set to see a change of operator with Stagecoach Manchester taking over from Stott’s Tours on the 407, on its Sunday and Bank Holiday daytime journeys. Of greater significance, and taken over by the same company, will be evening journeys of the 350 service via Delph, Uppermill and Mossley.

However, Saddleworth’s most direct services to Tameside, the 353 and 354, will see the loss of its evening services. Though Roaches would be served by a revised 343 service, the people of Roughtown and Heyrod will be bus-free after 6pm. Thus making The Rising Sun a less attractive proposition for car-less real ale fanatics. Manchester Community Transport will operate its Sunday daytime journeys.

On the 184 service, part route workings to Uppermill will also serve the turning circle of Saddleworth School. Owing to traffic conditions, early morning weekday journeys from Huddersfield will be retimed.

Minor changes

Sholver passengers will benefit from an extra journey on the 83 service. A part route working from Oldham to Manchester will be extended to Sholver, departing at 0605. The X84 limited stop service from Carrcote will be retimed, as will the 425 from Holts Estate to Fitton Hill.

The 415 service sees the withdrawal of a part route journey, the 0816 from Chadderton to Oldham.

Operator revisions

At a glance, the following services which have changed operators:

343: Oldham – Mossley – Hyde: Stott’s Tours on Monday to Saturday daytimes, Stagecoach Manchester on Sundays, evenings and Bank Holidays;

350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley [Hey Farm] – Oldham: from First Greater Manchester to Stagecoach Manchester on evening journeys;

353: Ashton-under-Lyne – Carrcote/Denshaw: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes;

354: Ashton-under-Lyne – Carrcote/Denshaw: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes;

402: Oldham – Royton Circular: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport;

406: Oldham – Royton Circular: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport;

407: Oldham – Denshaw: from Stott’s Tours to Stagecoach Manchester on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytime journeys;

408: Stalybridge – Oldham – Buckstones: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport on Monday to Saturday evenings and Stagecoach Manchester on Sundays, evenings and Bank Holidays;

410: Oldham – Waterhead Circular: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport;

411: Oldham – Waterhead Circular: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport;

419: Ashton-under-Lyne – Chadderton – Middleton: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport.

*                                      *                                     *

This could be Oldham’s and Saddleworth’s last changes under the Coalition Government. I hope so myself. Though Oldham’s cuts haven’t been as perverse as the ones Tameside bus users are about to receive, there’s every chance the next set could be worse.

What is clear, as with the changes made to Tameside’s services this April, is FirstGroup’s retreat from a number of tendered services. Perhaps their near monopoly in Oldham and Saddleworth is about to be shaken. Some may say “not before long” but there’s no way they would part with its biggest hitters, the 83, 180, 184 and 409 services in a hurry.

For enthusiasts, from the middle of April onwards, interesting times in terms of the variety of buses and operators. One where the Barbie livery is being increasingly usurped by the white and red of MCT, or the swirls of Stagecoach. The state of Oldham’s and Saddleworth’s buses in the Summer and Autumn 2015 changes is in some part down to us. Vote one way in May, key services saved and a better deal for bus users. Vote another way, expect more swingeing cuts, probably worse than the ones you are about to see next month.

S.V., 25 March 2015.


4 thoughts on “Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, Spring 2015: Local Services Slashed

Add yours

  1. i think the stagecoach 348/350s in evenings would be done by the 36421 to 29 batch of buses as for the day time ones i wonder if they will interwork 348 and 350 again as one of the 350s from hey farm at 28 and 58 have nearly 15 mins waiting time at hey farm


    1. Hi Michael,

      I can imagine the Enviro200s being seen on the 350, likewise with the 348. As for 348/350 interworking at Hey Farm, I doubt it given the evening service does the full route in Saddleworth. Hence it compensating for the withdrawn evening journeys on the 354.

      I assume that the 343 and 350 services could be worked from Middleton and Ashton garages. The former garage presently does the Saturday 343s. 348s, Ashton without a doubt.

      Bye for now,



  2. Thank you for a brilliant detailed in depth article on the service changes; the only place on the internet that provides such detailed information!

    I don’t have too much knowledge into Tameside services as such, but as far as Saddleworth goes, (and I guess Tameside too for this one), 350 is a bit of a shock!

    As for 353/354, I’m very glad the traditional weekday (and Saturday) daytime services have been retained. From a local’s perspective, I have never seen 353/354’s with more than maybe two passengers on after sort of maybe 20:00, but then again as you say, there is now a bit of an indirect link to the towns of Mossley and Ashton as well as Stalybridge at night from the Saddleworth area which on paper does seem a bit of a loss. These services have seen all sorts of evening changes over time, it seems strange the 354 was once terminating at Diggle Station and the 353 once ran all the way to Oldham … maybe one day in the future they will have a new evening timetable at some point.

    Interesting times ahead; are Stagecoach finding their feet a little bit in the Saddleworth area with working the 350 in the evenings I wonder?

    Perhaps next we might see them take over some 180/184 journeys although that seems very unrealistic!

    I wonder when the last time Stagecoach actually operated one of the main Saddleworth services? I could be truly mistaken, but I seem to remember the last time they had a notable input was perhaps the early noughties (around 1999-2002) when they operated 351/352/353/354/356. (Of course, Universal Buses probably also deserves a mention here too). I don’t recall them having any notable workings in the Saddleworth area after October 2004 although I could be wrong.

    Great article as ever


    1. Hello Forgotten Tunnel,

      Long time no see in these parts!

      2003 was the last year when Stagecoach Manchester had a significant presence in Saddleworth, and this was following their acquisition of Universal Buses’ operations in 2000. They lost the 353 to Bu Val; sister route 354 – also Stagecoach Manchester from 2000 – was taken over by the Rochdale operator in 2002.

      The 352, withdrawn after October 2004’s reorganisation of Saddleworth services, was also Stagecoach Manchester till 2002, after the Perth-shire giant took over Glossopdale in 1999 (who had the route since 1996).

      The 351 and 356 were newly created routes, courtesy of Labour’s Rural Bus Initiative. Starting in 1999, Universal Buses were the original operators, a year before Stagecoach’s acquisition. Bu Val took over the routes from Stagecoach Manchester, operating them till their cessation in 2007.

      I remember Stagecoach Manchester’s involvement on the 353. Besides the more usual minibuses, they would have some right gems on that route. For instance, their usual Alexander bodied Volvo Olympians, and an earlier version which was inherited from Busways. That not only retained its prominent bumper, but also the Tyne and Wear PTE moquette (which had buses and Metro trains instead of the usual pattern).

      Universal Buses sometimes had the Wright HandyBus bodied Dennis Darts as well as their run-of-the-mill Mercedes Vario minibuses. I remember JPT’s original minibuses back in 1996 on the 354 service which had three return journeys (and only one of them along the full route to Denshaw).

      I too remember the surreal evening timetable – First Pennine operated them. The joys of a quick trip to The Diggle Hotel for a summer pint – in a yellow and red minibus! Needless to say, they would turn out to be baby steps towards the present day much-expanded 350 service. Apart from the link to Diggle.

      Owing to the number of journeys they have won tenders for, their involvement in the Saddleworth area is actually as great as its 2000 – 2002 zenith. Greater still if you count the 343 which takes in Lees, Grotton, and about two acres of Friezland outside The Royal George Hotel. Also the 81A in Lees.

      Bye for now,



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