Not-so-light tweaks order of the day with curtailments and contract changes
- 415 reverts to Oldham – Middleton only service;
- Operator changes for 408 and 412 services;
- 425 evening changes and service cuts;
- 81A evening journeys replaced by revised and renumbered 343 route.
For Oldham and Saddleworth bus passengers, a case of few changes in number though with each one having a more tremendous impact than those affecting its Tameside neighbours. Whereas many of Tameside’s changes are brought about by Manchester’s traffic and some tender changes, Oldham’s will have more of an effect on its overall network.
The most striking changes involve the Lancashire town’s short distance routes. Particularly the 425 service from Fitton Hill to Holts Estate. The present half hourly evening timetable will be cut to once hourly. Furthermore, the service will split at Oldham town centre with two different operators at either end. Journeys from Fitton Hill to Oldham will be operated by First Greater Manchester as of now. East of Oldham, journeys to Holts Estate, via Abbey Hills Road, will be operated by Stagecoach Manchester.
More complicated is the saga of the 408 service. Last April saw the hourly service butchered between Oldham and Stalybridge, with the full route operating on Sundays, Bank Holidays and weekday peak hours. Continuing the saga, First Greater Manchester’s off-peak journeys from Shaw to Oldham will be taken over by Rosso (perhaps there could be some interworking with the 435 service from Rochdale). Therefore, the pattern from the 04 April will be as follows:
- Weekday peaks: First Greater Manchester (Stalybridge – Oldham – Shaw);
- Off-peak weekday and Saturday daytimes: Rosso (Oldham – Shaw);
- Monday to Saturday evenings: MCT Travel (Stalybridge – Oldham – Shaw);
- Sundays and Public Holidays: Stagecoach Manchester (Stalybridge – Oldham – Shaw).
As seen above, the service pattern is about as complicated as a 3-2-1 clue. Rosso will also run the 412 service from Middleton to Oldham (via Boarshaw) on Monday to Saturday daytimes. A GetMeThere ticket is needed to get the full benefit of this service – MCT Travel and Stagecoach Manchester run its evening and Sunday journeys respectively.
Less complicated, though only more complicated in the form of its route is the 343 service. From the 03 April, its Sundays, evenings and Bank Holiday journeys will be renumbered 340. Journeys will follow the same route as the AM peak journey of the 344 (via Waterhead and Lees).
Its Carrbrook Village and Brushes Estate spurs will be discontinued, with these parts transferring to First Greater Manchester’s 348 route. The Gee Cross to Hyde section will be transferred to the 389’s evenings, Sundays and Bank Holiday journeys. The AM peak journey will be renumbered 340. Thankfully, it is ‘as you were’ with the operators (Stotts and Stagecoach Manchester).
Prompting changes to the 343 service and its spin-off route are those affecting the 81A service to Holts Estate and Manchester. Its part-route evening journeys will be withdrawn and replaced by the 340. Given that its part-route journeys arrive at Oldham a minute later than the present 343’s departure times to Hyde, minimal impact to the Mossley bus’ running times.
This spring will see a fair number of changes for Middleton-bound routes. As well as the aforementioned 412 service, the 406 from Mills Hill to Oldham will see its Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys revised to operate between Oldham and Chadderton Hall Park. Weekday and Saturday journeys will also see a change of operator, from Stagecoach Manchester to M Travel.
As further proof of this pattern, the ping-pong battle for the 415 service has taken another turn. Once again, the service will be curtailed, operating between Oldham and Middleton with the same half hourly frequency. Being a regular on Oldham’s longest running bus route is far from dull.
Of greater impact south of Hey Farm are changes to the 350 service. Within Tameside, its frequency will be every 12 minutes. The only 350s serving Hey Farm Estate will be the twice hourly journeys that continue to Saddleworth and Oldham. First Greater Manchester will regain its evening journeys which, for the last year, have been operated by Stagecoach Manchester.
As mentioned earlier, there has been much noise about the 407 route from Oldham to Denshaw. Our friends at Rosso shall be taking over the Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys of this important service with Stotts running the Monday to Saturday journeys as at present. The main difference will be the loss of its 1830 (from Oldham) and 1855 (from Denshaw) journeys.
Last year saw the retreat of First Greater Manchester from Tameside. This year, it is Oldham where First Greater Manchester have reduced their presence. Especially through tender changes on services north of Oldham Edge.
As for the next round of changes, I doubt as if they will be anything other than the Summer Timetables during the school holidays. Then again, one never knows.
S.V., 17 March 2016.