MCT and Stagecoach benefit from FirstGroup retreat
- Spring 2015 cuts confirmed: affected services running to similar timetable as Sunday services;
- FirstGroup lose evening services;
- Dukinfield’s Mancunian way, three return journeys on weekdays.
Apart from the fact the scale of Spring 2015’s cutbacks had been anticipated, the biggest headlines should be reserved for the operator changes.
As part of its central government imposed departmental cuts on hardworking bus users, Transport for Greater Manchester has changed its tender procurement measures. Instead of on a service-by-service basis, in the form of blocks with more than one service in a given area.
The most marked aspect is First Greater Manchester’s retreat from a number of evening and Sunday services. This includes the 343, 348 and 350. Some of their tendered daytime services will be following suit.
As stated in our preview on the 22 January, Dukinfield is set to be at the sharpest end of Spring 2015’s changes. Therefore, the 220 and 221 journeys operated by First Greater Manchester will be withdrawn, whittling the town’s Mancunian link to three return journeys on a weekday basis. From April, Stagecoach Manchester’s 221 journeys (AM to Manchester, PM to Tennyson Avenue) will be the town’s only direct link. To compensate, the Tame Valley Local Link service is set to be expanded.
The 408 service, which has provided Dukinfield’s link to Droylsden and Audenshaw will be severely cut back. The Droylsden to Stalybridge section will be discontinued, along with changes to five off-peak return journeys. This will see ten journeys operating 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.
With Astley Street and Globe Square soon to see its buses reduced between 33.3 (daytime) and 50% (evenings), its main two services are set to see operator revisions. The 335 and (Sunday, evening and Bank Holiday journeys of the) 345 will be operated by Manchester Community Transport. Stagecoach Manchester is set to introduce further afternoon journeys on the 345’s daytime service.
Besides being cut back to once hourly, the 41 will see a change of operator. This time, Manchester Community Transport will operate the service seven days a week, with most journeys departing from Ashton bus station at 25 past the hour. Weekdays will see extra journeys at 0717 and 0817, with the first Saturday journey departing at 0825. There is no change to the Sunday and Bank Holiday timetable apart from the addition of a part route journey at 2335.
There will be major changes for Stalybridge’s bus users as plans to axe evening journeys on the 236, 353 and 354 services have been confirmed. The 353 and 354 services, as well as seeing its evening journeys axed will see a change of operator. This time, Manchester Community Transport will run both services on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes. Their début in Stalybridge will also be marked by the 408‘s Monday to Saturday evening journeys. As stated in the “Dukinfield changes” section, ten off-peak journeys will only operate between Oldham and Buckstones, in addition to the cessation of the Stalybridge to Droylsden link.
With a trip to Hurst Cross requiring a cab or a change of bus, the joys of watching Stalybridge Celtic on a Tuesday night will also be less pleasurable. The 236 is set to lose its evening journeys. Its sister route, the 237, will be retimed to operate once hourly. Also, along Mottram Road, there will be minor timetable changes to First Greater Manchester’s 387 service.
Whereas FirstGroup is very much involved with the 387, its retreat from the 343 service is complete after April. Stott’s Tours will take over the Saturday daytime service from Stagecoach Manchester. In turn, First Greater Manchester’s evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys will be taken over by Stagecoach Manchester. Furthermore, all journeys will observe the present Monday to Saturday journeys. Which, not only avoids confusion, but also gives the people of Roaches an evening service. (Passengers continuing to Uppermill from Roaches, after the April changes may need to change at Hey Farm for a 350).
Furthermore, its evening journeys will be extended to Gee Cross, via Waverley Road and The Grapes Hotel. By day, this is served by the 344 Hyde – Backbower Circular. April also sees the severance of the Hyde – Gee Cross section from First Greater Manchester’s 389 service. Therefore, the 389 would only follow the daytime route on a full time basis.
A number of local services is set to change operators with Manchester Community Transport its biggest beneficiaries. As well as the 41 mentioned earlier, the 339 (Ashton – Crowhill) and the 419 (Ashton – Middleton) is set to follow suit. Both services will see frequencies halved to once hourly. The 339’s sister route, the 338, will see its evening journeys withdrawn. However, its Sunday and Bank Holiday daytime journeys will continue to be operated by First Greater Manchester.
The 419 service will see its Firwood Park link restored. Also transferring to Manchester Community Transport will be the 217 service. Only a year ago, it was part of the rambling yet handy circular service that took in Dukinfield, Stalybridge and Mossley. From April, with a sigh of relief for its regular passengers, MCT will become the sole operator. At present, the service is operated by S&S Travel Services and Stagecoach Manchester.
In place of the 331 on Sundays and evenings is the new 232 service, offering a new link via Smallshaw and Broadoak. This will complement the existing 231 and 332 services. Its sister route via King’s Road, the 38, will see its evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys taken over by Manchester Community Transport.
For the first time since the loss of SpeedwellBus’ S48 and S50 services, the 348 and 350 will no longer be the sole preserve of First Greater Manchester. Most evening journeys will be operated by Stagecoach Manchester.
The most significant changes entail the 236’s evening service as detailed in the “Stalybridge changes” section. On a more positive note, this coming Monday sees an extension of the 394 service to Stepping Hill via Marple. On weekdays, High Peak’s service will be extended along the A6 to Stockport.
There is set to be minor changes to five Stagecoach Manchester routes. Timetable changes will affect the 168 (Ashton-under-Lyne – Chorlton), 169 (Ashton-under-Lyne – Southern Cemetery), 205 (Manchester [Piccadilly Gardens] – Dane Bank – Denton) and the 219 (Stalybridge – Manchester [Piccadilly Gardens]). With the 219 service, it is probably the cessation of its Night Service.
For the 346 service from Ashton to Hyde, a new journey from Ashton will be introduced at 1828 on Mondays to Saturdays. In the reverse direction, Stagecoach Manchester’s last Ashton-bound 346 will be 1900, taking over from First Greater Manchester.
At a glance, the following services which have changed operators:
- 38: Hazelhurst Circular – Ashton-under-Lyne: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport on Sundays, evenings and Bank Holidays;
- 41: Dukinfield [Tennyson Avenue] – Ashton-under-Lyne: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport;
- 217: Manchester [Shudehill Interchange] – Droylsden – Ashton-under-Lyne: from S&S Travel Services and Stagecoach Manchester to Manchester Community Transport;
- 332: Ashton-under-Lyne – Hartshead Circular: from First Greater Manchester to Stagecoach Manchester on Sundays, evenings and Bank Holidays;
- 335: Ashton-under-Lyne – Dukinfield [Globe Square] – Denton [Town Lane]: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport;
- 338: Ashton-under-Lyne – Crowhill – Taunton: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport;
- 343: Oldham – Mossley – Hyde: Stott’s Tours on Monday to Saturday daytimes, Stagecoach Manchester on Sundays, evenings and Bank Holidays;
- 345: Ashton-under-Lyne – Dukinfield [Globe Square] – Denton [Pendle Road]: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport on evenings, Sundays and Bank Holidays;
- 348: Ashton-under-Lyne – Carrbrook: from First Greater Manchester to Stagecoach Manchester on most evening journeys;
- 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;
- 393: Ashton-under-Lyne – Smallshaw: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport and Stagecoach Manchester on some 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;
- 419: Ashton-under-Lyne – Middleton: from First Greater Manchester to Manchester Community Transport.
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There we have it, what could be Tameside’s and Glossop’s last set of service changes under the present Coalition Government. Hopefully the last in my opinion.
This April sees the biggest swing to Manchester Community Transport. With the way this Spring’s tenders have shaped up, purchasing a single operator ticket in the Tameside area will be poorer value for money. Especially in Carrbrook which has been virtually Badgerline/Firstbus/FirstGroup territory since 1993, apart from Speedwell’s S48 and Mayne of Manchester’s 232 – 235 services. Still, when GetMeThere is rolled out, it probably wouldn’t matter.
For enthusiasts, from the middle of April onwards, interesting times in terms of the variety of buses and operators. As for the Summer and Autumn changes this year, that partially depends on the choices we make on the 07 May 2015. A pro-car and/or anti-bus government in the next parliament would see more severe cuts to our bus services. Which, as well as a handy, leisurely form of public transport, is also a lifeline.
S.V., 25 March 2015.