FirstGroup reorganisation and tender changes behind latest updates
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);.
- 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.
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 58, 59, 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.
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.