Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, April 2017

FirstGroup reorganisation and tender changes behind latest updates 

Enviro200 Stagecoach Manchester HH56 BLU, Oldham
Back on the Denshaw route: Stagecoach Manchester have regained the 407 service at the expense of Rosso – though with a reduced timetable. This image taken in 2015 shows one of their buses on a Bank Holiday Monday journey.

This month will see a few tender changes, albeit with some drastic cuts to their journeys. The already bricked-to-the-point-of-uselessness 408 service will take a battering for one. As for wanting a late night pint at The Fleece Inn in Mossley, you can forget that unless the 350 bus or County Cars forms part of your plans.

The much vaunted changes to First Greater Manchester services, following the closure of Dukinfield garage, were supposed to be subtle ones. It was anticipated that Tameside passengers would have bore the brunt of their changes. As it happens, Oldham and Saddleworth passengers have – though mainly in terms of operator revisions and some retimed journeys.

Stalybridge Connections Curtailed

Oldham’s bus connections with the Tameside area will be affected thanks to changes affecting the 340 and 408 routes. The 408 service will be cut to every two hours on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Stagecoach Manchester will take over from Rosso. There are no changes to the already thin weekday and Saturday journeys operated by First Greater Manchester and MCT Travel.

Bearing the brunt of the changes will be the 340 service. Though Stagecoach Manchester will retain its Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys, there will be no evening service. Furthermore, First Greater Manchester will take over Stagecoach’s weekday and evening journeys. This time with an earlier finish. At present, the last 340 service leaves Oldham at 2215 on weekdays and Saturdays. From Hyde bus station, 2325 up to Mossley (Brookbottom) From the 23 April, here’s how the revised timetable will look:

Mondays to Fridays:

  • 343: unchanged (Stott’s Tours);
  • 340 (from Oldham): 1825, 1925, and 2025 (First Greater Manchester);
  • 340 (from Hyde): 1830, 1930, 2030, and 2130 (First Greater Manchester);.

Saturdays:

  • 343: unchanged (Stott’s Tours);
  • 340 (from Oldham): 1825, 1925, 2025, and 2125 (First Greater Manchester);
  • 340 (from Hyde): 1830, 1930, 2030, 2130, and 2230 (First Greater Manchester).

Sundays and Bank Holidays:

  • 340: hourly but no service after 6 – 7pm (Stagecoach Manchester).

Outside of the 340’s revised operating hours, a trip to Stalybridge, Hyde, or Dukinfield would mean the half hourly 409 to Ashton. Then the 330 or 346 (Hyde and Dukinfield), or the 237, 348, and 389 to Stalybridge (or the 180 and 184 to Greenfield and a train).

Service changes and operator revisions

The 407 service from Denshaw to Oldham will see the return of Stagecoach Manchester on its Sunday and Bank Holiday service. Taking over from Rosso, the revised service from Denshaw will finish at 1534 – two hours earlier than the previous timetable.

Two operators could be sharing the 81 service at night time between Manchester and Moston, but the people of Derker will be seeing the changes even more. First Greater Manchester will continue to run evening journeys between Moston and Manchester. Evening journeys along the full route to Derker will be operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

At night time, the 149 will revert to its pre-2014 version – operating from Manchester to Oldham via Cheetham Hill as the 49. Lately, all journeys on the 149 have terminated at Cheetham Hill, with the Manchester to Cheetham Hill leg part of the 42 service. This will be operated by Stagecoach Manchester whereas First Greater Manchester’s 149 journeys will be retimed.

This is true of the 350 service via Saddleworth. Sunday and Bank Holiday evening journeys will be retimed to run slightly earlier. Furthermore, there will also be fewer Oldham bound journeys in the early mornings from Ashton. Two part route journeys will also be introduced towards Ashton: they will depart from Hey Farm at 0526 and Greenfield at 0633.

The 425 will be less of a muddle in the evenings. Recently, its Oldham to Holts Estate section has been operated by Stagecoach Manchester with First Greater Manchester running the Oldham to Fitton Hill section. Common sense as prevailed with First Greater Manchester running both sections as a single cross-Oldham route.

Switching operators in the reverse direction to Fitton Hill’s link with Oldham will be the 415. Its Sunday service will see Stagecoach Manchester buses passing Foxdenton Hall and Greengate. First will retain the Monday to Saturday service with some minor changes to improve reliability. Also making the switch to Stagecoach (this time at Rosso’s expense) will be another Middleton route. The 412 via Chadderton Hall Park. Its last bus will run an hour earlier than at present.

Retiming

With some slight retimings, the 406 service to Mills Hill will see the loss of some journeys on Sundays and Bank Holidays. There will also be some retimings on the 5859, and 83 services (First Greater Manchester), and the 76 service (Stagecoach Manchester) during weekday peak hours. MCT Travel’s 396 service from Newton Heath to Ashton-under-Lyne (via Failsworth, Hollinwood, Hathershaw, and Fitton Hill) will also be retimed in the peak hours.

Whatever Next?

As per usual, April’s changes were far reaching and severe. We predicted in January that Oldhamers will be at the sharp end of the changes. This month, we have learned that Stalybridge has taken the most stick, at least in terms of direct routes linking Tameside with Oldham.

The changes, following the closure of Dukinfield garage, have affected the Oldham services more than Tameside’s routes. Particularly with operator revisions – and the departmental cuts which have affected tendered routes. Whoever gets to be the Mayor of Greater Manchester next month could have their hands full, with newly acquired powers for a London-style franchising system.

If you’re travelling east of Lees after 7pm on Sunday, you should have no problems with getting a bus to Uppermill or Greenfield. As for Mossley from Oldham, it’s the 350 or a more expensive yet less circuitous route with space for four people.

Apart from the gamut of summer timetables, July’s changes could be interesting again. We shall see.

S.V., 14 April 2017.

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4 thoughts on “Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, April 2017

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  1. I reported my concerns with regard to the then proposed changes to the 407 service to TfGM, clearly to no avail.

    My response to the proposal was thus, and I consider valid notwithstanding TfGM’s decision :-

    “I have noted with interest that it is proposed to make changes to the subsidised Sunday/ Bank Holiday service on the 407 bus route which runs from Oldham to Denshaw via Moorside/ Pennine Meadows/ Grains Bar. At present, the first service on a Sunday leaves Oldham for Denshaw at 09:11 and the last journey departs Denshaw for Oldham at 17:34. The service runs at an hourly frequency between these times to a total of 9 return journeys.

    “While the route of the 407 between Oldham and Sholver is covered by an alternative commercially operated service (the 83 operated by First) the 407 provides the only scheduled service for the communities of Pennine Meadows and Grains Bar. The 407 is also the only route which serves Denshaw on a Sunday (the two hourly 354 service between Denshaw and Ashton not running on Sundays). On a Sunday, the 407 also combines with the half-hourly 83 to provide three services an hour along the busy Ripponden Road corridor (Huddersfield Road to Turf Pit Lane) providing a useful additional alternative for the communities of Watersheddings and Moorside who already see a reduction from the weekday 10 minute service on the 83 to a 30 minute service.

    “The proposal within the report is to reduce the hours of operation such the that first and last journeys are removed to provide 7 return journeys (a reduction of 22%). This will mean that for residents of Denshaw, Grains Bar and Pennine Meadows, the earliest they could arrive into Oldham Bus Station would be at 10:56. Any visitor to the town centre would then have to leave on the 16:11 to ensure that they were able to travel home again providing a maximum window of just 5 hours. Leisure visitors to the town centre would be hard pushed to fit in a trip to the cinema and a meal within this timeframe. This window is depleted further should the bus user be required to make a further connecting journey. Onward travel to Manchester, for example, would be impractical within the available time.

    “It should be noted that the 407 has already been subject to a very recent service reduction by the Sub-Committee. At its meeting on 15 January 2016, the Sub-Committee approved the removal of the last Sunday/ Bank Holiday journey which at that time operated from Oldham to Denshaw at 18:30, and Denshaw to Oldham at 18:55. The current proposal would result in a terminal journey some 2.5 hours earlier than that which operated up until April 2016 and an overall reduction in service numbers of some 30%.

    “I strongly believe that reducing the availability of bus services for some of our more remote communities is a self-fulfilling prophecy, serving only to reduce further the appeal of bus services. There comes a point when services are so restricted and so impractical that use naturally dwindles which then results in further and further contractions.

    “Finally, I note that the report suggests that the last journey from Denshaw to Oldham will depart at 15:34. I can only assume this is a typographical error and must be 16:34 – unless, of course, it is actually proposed to terminate the 16:11 service from Oldham to Denshaw at Denshaw and not provide the return journey to Oldham which would be bonkers given the bus would have to return past Oldham to the depot anyway.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Presumably, the loadings on the then first and last journeys were very poor, which would mean a higher subsidy per journey to serve very few people. Certainly, it is the norm elsewhere – including areas with far, far more non motorists than Grains Bar/Denshaw – for Tendered services on Sundays to not start until late morning simply because shops don’t open until 1100. As regards the 1634 return, if the bus has to return to Oldham anyway, there is nothing stopping the Operator running the journey commercially, especially given the relatively short journey and tight Sunday running times would mean only a minimal time penalty in terms of driver’s pay

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  2. i can see them struggling to fit all pioneers buses in at Oldham i went past the other day and it was nearly full dispite normal service day

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    1. Don’t forget the Schools have been off for a fortnight so that would mean all the YSBs will have been in all day, and a few Duky buses might also have been released early. Also, I believe Bury depot won’t need to be cleared immediately, so any withdrawn buses at Oldham could move there.

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