In the eye of the storm 

Sadly, my stint in Bredbury only lasted till the 30 January. In one way, it meant being free from the worst excesses of the A560. Then I existed on bits of work to avoid the DWP’s weaponised regime on unemployed people. This meant a brief return to Oldham (for odd copywriting and coding jobs), and the possibility of S.V. going it alone as a freelancer.

Then, something changed. Courtesy of Facebook Messenger, a former colleague, and free WiFi, an opening had emerged in central Manchester. Security as well as return to Manchester city centre was a major incentive for me. I took it with both hands. By July, I was back on the 221. Or the 343 and the train. Or the tram, or bus to Ashton then a 346. I was back in Manchester: my spiritual and creative home.

The only downside was less time for blogging. In spite of that, yours truly was happier. Busier. Sometimes too busier than I wanted to be, but I never one for sitting still. Not only from an early age, but also on the shocking Marshall-bodied Dennis Dart SLFs (which I hate as much as Nina Myskow hates Little and Large).

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Sadly, 2015 was an awful year for the Dukinfield bus scene. The cuts that had been brooding for the last five years reached their zenith. Most notably were changes to the forerunners of the 21 and 21A services.

The 408, which replaced the 217/218 between Droylsden and Stalybridge, was severely cut back. From Oldham to Stalybridge, no off-peak weekday and Saturday journeys and numerous operator changes. From Droylsden to Stalybridge, gone completely. In the space of eight years, the number of daytime buses from the Albion Hotel to Stalybridge town centre, fell by 75%. From four per hour to once hourly. A trip to Audenshaw meant walking or changing at Ashton.

What of the evening 220? In April, this too was withdrawn, giving Stagecoach a monopoly in peak hours (three eastbound 221s, PM; four in reverse, AM). Their tendered Saturday morning journey of the 220 to Stalybridge (and the 221 to Piccadilly) also went the way of the dinosaurs and Cheetham Hill Road branch library.

The 41 service to Tennyson Avenue – affected by traffic on Oldham Road – saw its daytime service halved. There was a change of operator: from First Greater Manchester to MCT Travel. Its Crowhill section formed part of the new 339 service to Ashton bus station. A small but significant bonus (for this fellow on a personal level), was a later last bus on Sundays and Bank Holidays – at 2335 from Ashton bus station.

There was another change to the 343 service. Its evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys, hitherto the preserve of First Greater Manchester, were taken over by Stagecoach Manchester. Its main changes: the severance of Richmond Terrace and the junction of Micklehurst Road in favour of the daytime route. Also a renumbering, to that of 340. Another variation to the 340 was the omission of Brushes Estate and Carrbrook Village, and a diversion via Greenacres Road (compensating for changes affecting the 415 service).

First Greater Manchester’s final peak hour journey of the 343 (the 1646 to Mossley railway station) was withdrawn. It had taken them eight years to offload the 343 route, since their consultation exercise of February 2007. Today, since April 2015, Stott’s Tours run the Monday to Saturday daytime service of the 343 (and a single weekday morning journey of the 340). The 340 – your 343 for Sundays, Bank Holidays and evenings – is the sole preserve of Stagecoach Manchester. Their journeys are operated from the former JPT Travel garage in Middleton.

A couple of changes affected the 346: April saw Stagecoach on evening journeys taking over from First Greater Manchester, whereas October saw a curious extension. With their daytime service cut to half hourly, Stagecoach’s journeys were extended to Tameside Hospital. A change which proved to be short lived).

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My Most Memorable Bus Journeys of 2015:

  • Huddersfield to Greenfield, aboard the 184: as well as enjoying the free WiFi aboard First Greater Manchester’s service, my father and I were en route to Boarshurst Band Club after seeing Black Dyke Band at Huddersfield Town Hall.
  • Glossop to Holmfirth, aboard Tates Travel’s 951 service: the seasonal route takes in Crowden and Holme Moss. It is now operated by Ladies’ Only Travel. This is also followed by South Pennine Community Transport’s 351 service which operates on Fridays.

Next up on My Life in the Company of Buses…

Our 31st and final part takes us towards the present day: in other words, 2016. A year which, in comparison to previous, was a quiet one for Dukinfield bus users.

S.V., 30 October 2016.

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