Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, January 2017

FirstGroup retime journeys following consultation events 

First Greater Manchester Alexander Dennis ALX400, YJ51 RCX, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station
The 409 to Rochdale: one of a few Oldham and Rochdale bound services covered by FirstGroup’s retiming exercise.

If you’ve ever tried catching the 409 in the evening peak, it can be quite a chore. At about half five, you would have had your fill of late buses, missing journeys, and packed vehicles. In this set month’s set of changes, could Oldham and Saddleworth passengers be benefiting from the results of FirstGroup’s consultation?

The result of the consultations have been a retiming of some of its trunk routes. An hors d’oeuvre for April’s changes once Tameside’s operations have been integrated with Wallshaw Street?

Oldham changes

Possibly reaping the benefits from First’s exercise will be passengers of the 52, 58, 59, 408 and 409 services. Retiming on the 58 and 59 services will see some changes between Rhodes and Oldham. From Middleton to Oldham, more time will be allowed via Chadderton whereas there will be less slack between Rhodes and Middleton. On weekday journeys of the 409, there will be some slightly wider gaps between departures. (Which in laypersons’ terms, modest cuts: every 10 instead of every 9 minutes).

There will be some rerouting of the 149 service to Cheetham Hill. Weekday peak hour journeys will reach Chamber Road via Ashton Road instead of Coppice Street. As detailed in our Tameside Bus Service Changes bulletin, two journeys of the 408 service will depart ten minutes earlier. This concerns the 0658 from Shaw to Stalybridge, and the 0804 journey in the reverse direction. From the 30 January, these will depart at 0648 and 0754 respectively.

Stagecoach Manchester’s 76 route will also seen some retiming. These affect the service’s evening journeys on weekdays and Saturdays.

Saddleworth changes

Some minor changes are planned for Saddleworth’s buses with FirstGroup’s routes (180 and 184) and positive ones at that for once. On Monday to Saturday, the 2250 180 from Piccadilly Gardens will be extended from Oldham to Grotton. The 2320 journey of the 184 will also be extended to Grotton.

Whatever Next?

As per usual, April’s changes are set to be the most far reaching and severe. This time, Oldhamers will be at the sharp end.

Firstly, there will be more changes following on from First Greater Manchester’s reorganisation of Oldham’s bus routes. Secondly, the integration of services [from the 23 April] hitherto operated by their Tameside garage which could see some weird and wonderful dead time workings. Thirdly, these will affect First’s tendered services in the Tameside area, that are otherwise out on a limb: most of their tendered routes are up for renewal.

Needless to say we shall be curious as to who could take over. Or as to how many may be culled. In TfGM’s last Bus Network Subcommittee meeting, there could be cuts to Sunday and evening journeys on the 340, 406, 407, 408, 412, and the 425 routes. Proposed for the 340 are earlier finishing times: around 8pm on weekdays, 9pm on Saturdays, and 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Sunday and Bank Holiday services also could finish earlier on the 406, 407, and 412 routes. Worst of all, the 408 (our candidate for The Most Emaciated Bus Route in Oldham) could see a marked loss in its Sunday service. A proposed frequency of every two hours without an evening service. Okay for Tameside Hospital and Royal Oldham Hospital visiting hours but nothing more.

Lastly, the 425 – Fitton Hill’s principal bus route – could be curtailed, though not at the Fitton Hill to Oldham section. The Holts Estate section – which could be affected by changes to the 408 – may see an early finish. The weekday and Saturday evening service could finish two hours earlier than at present. As for Sunday evening services, possibly nil. Nada. Zero. Duck. Love. In advance of the worst happening, get those taxi numbers added to your phone.

If you’re an Oldham-based bus user, April 2017 could be a brutal one. Take cover. All will be revealed towards Easter.

S.V., 23 January 2017.

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