346 service extension suitable prescription for better links?
- Stagecoach Manchester 346s extended to Tameside Hospital;
- Peak hour upgrades for 219 and 409 services;
- Glossop’s Stockport link discontinued.
The end of October is usually synonymous with horror or mild peril, even in the world of public transport. Throughout the last three months of each year, bus usage is reputed to be higher than any other time due to Christmas shopping traffic.
For the Tameside area, October’s set of changes is more ‘treat’ than ‘trick’. Among the goodies are slight improvements to peak hour journeys.
The orange cream in our bus orientated box of Quality Street comes in the form of changes to the 346 service. Almost four years after its upgrade comes a northbound extension to Stagecoach Manchester’s journeys. From the end of October, the popular service via Newton and Dukinfield will continue to Tameside Hospital on Monday to Saturday daytimes. Times will also be changed, probably to allow for extended running times via the BT junction, and irksome traffic lights outside the Albion School building.
This will not only mark the 346’s first northward extension since 1979 (when some journeys used to continue to Droylsden till 1985). It reestablishes a direct link between Dukinfield and Tameside Hospital – a connection severed on the loss of Checkmate Coaches’ 220 journeys in April 2014 (and the curtailment of the 217 service the same month). On the other hand, a 346 terminating at the hospital would have less dead time between Hartshead Building North and Stagecoach’s garage off Clarence Street.
At present, Stagecoach Manchester’s 231 is its only commercial service to run to Tameside Hospital. Could this mean more competition against First Greater Manchester, whose 350 service offers six buses per hour to Tameside Hospital? Stagecoach Manchester’s change could see five buses of theirs per hour making the journey to Fountain Street. Furthermore, the people of Newton gain a faster link to the hospital (at present, this means changing at Ashton or Stalybridge).
Whilst in Stalybridge, some peak hour journeys of the 219 service will be extended from Ashton to the Cheshire town. A move which is not only useful, but one that also reduces dead time. Passengers of the 409 service will also benefit from extra peak hour journeys, this being on weekdays.
Of late, High Peak extended their 394 service from Stepping Hill to Stockport. Owing to reliability problems and the cursed A6, its southern terminus will revert to Stepping Hill Hospital.
Though a little off Glossop, yet relevant in this context, the 192 service is going to be given another boost. In addition to the already frequent service from Hazel Grove to Piccadilly Gardens will be a new express service. The X92 will offer peak hour journeys on weekdays from Stagecoach’s recently opened Park and Ride site south of the Rising Sun public house. Could the express service be more of an enticement than the all stops 192 service? Anecdotal evidence on the P+R site has seen reports of empty spaces galore.
With the summer season coming to a close, Tates Travel’s 901 weekend service from Glossop to Holmfirth and Huddersfield will be hibernating for the winter.
As well as January’s set of changes, expect to see a preview of what we may be about to receive in Easter 2016. Also, as soon as we find out, expect to see details of this Christmas’ and New Year’s Day 2016’s night buses.
S.V., 30 September 2015.
Postscript (02 October 2015)
Sometimes, orange creams can have a Marmite effect on chocolate lovers. In the case of the 346, the somewhat negative or ‘meh’ effect in October’s changes. In spite of its extension to Tameside Hospital, Stagecoach Manchester’s daytime journeys will be cut by 33%: from three buses an hour to two buses an hour. Bah! (Don’t get me started on why Quality Street tins have shrunk either).