Retiming for FirstGroup routes and a Rosso retreat

First Greater Manchester Mercedes Citaro, W349 RJA, Oldham bus station
Most of First Greater Manchester’s timing changes will be seen on their trunk routes from Oldham and Saddleworth to Manchester. No changes are planned for the 425 service – timetables or new vehicles.

Whereas only three of FirstGroup’s Tameside routes have seen subtle changes, less subtle changes will be made to Oldham’s routes. Particularly on Manchester bound routes including the 180 and 182. The 181/182 services to Manchester will be at the sharpest end of their changes.

In addition to FirstGroup’s changes, we bid a farewell to Rosso on two TfGM tendered services. The 435 will be Transdev’s only route in Oldham MBC boundaries.

Oldham changes

As with Tameside’s changes, FirstGroup’s changes are due to minimising dead time between the first and last journeys to and from Oldham depot. Hence weekday changes to the 81 service which will see the withdrawal of the 2325 from Moston to Manchester, and the 2355 to Oldham. The 2305 journey to Moston will be extended to Oldham [Mumps Bridge].

Sunday and evening journeys on the 81 service will see changes. The 1901 journey from Derker to Manchester will be withdrawn. Evening journeys between Moston and Manchester will depart from The Gardeners’ Arms at one minute to the hour (1959 to 2259). In the opposite direction, twenty-five past the hour (at 2025, 2125, and 2225). The 2325 journey will continue to Oldham [Mumps Bridge].

Its sister route to Holts Estate, the 81A, will see the loss of weekday journeys to Oldham, at 1810 and 1840. Minor changes will be seen on the 83 service from Sholver. As well as minor timing changes, its 0413 and 0443 southbound journeys to Manchester will depart three minutes earlier (at 0410 and 0440).

For the 181 and 182 services, some tweaks will be made to its AM and PM peak journeys. On the 181 route, the 0801 journey from Manchester to Shaw will depart at 0809, replacing a 182 journey to Royton. Its 1501 Chadderton to Manchester journey will depart at 1510 from the 29 January. This partially replaces the 1507 journey from Royton to Manchester. The 1600 journey to Shaw will also be withdrawn.

On its sister route, the 182, the 0534 journey from Chadderton to Shaw will be withdrawn. As will the 0809 journey to Royton. Changes to PM peak services from Shaw will see 181s departing at 1646, 1739, and 1822. 182s will depart at 1701, 1719 and 1754.

Once again, more changes are proposed for the 408 service. This time its route in Shaw has changed – or rather – reverted to a previous incarnation. At Rochdale Road crossroads it will turn left at The Shay Wake towards Wren’s Nest. Then it will continue to Buckstones in a clockwise direction via Buckstones Road, Hillside Avenue, Grains Road, and Beal Lane. The operator of its Monday to Saturday daytime service will be MCT Travel. From the 29 January, they will operate all journeys apart from those on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

There is also another tender gain for MCT Travel on another Roytonian bus route: the 412 from Oldham to Middleton. Monday to Saturday times have changed. As with the 408, no changes to its Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys – also operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

Though Rosso have lost its journeys on the 408 and 412 routes, they retain a near monopoly on the 435 service. In Shaw it will no longer serve Buckstones Road, the Wren’s Nest, and Milnrow Road. Instead it will terminate at the Hillside Avenue bus turnaround.

Saddleworth changes

The 184 will see the loss of its 1902 part route journey from Grotton to Manchester. In its place will be an extended 180 journey, leaving Greenfield [The Clarence Hotel] at 1905. This also replaces a part route journey from Greenfield to Oldham which departs at 1912. A much better move which eliminates a need to change buses in Grotton or Oldham from a Greenfield point of view. Early morning journeys will be retimed on Sundays.

Whatever Next?

Last week’s Bus Networks and TfGM Services Sub-Committee meeting could see some far-reaching changes to Oldham and Saddleworth routes. Changes are proposed for the 159 service with a possible new operator.

The biggest change, proposed after Eastertide, are the curtailment of First Greater Manchester’s 353 and 354 services. It is proposed the services will terminate at Uppermill and Carrcote, instead of Dobcross and Denshaw.

In its place, a new Saddleworth shuttle bus – numbered 356 – is proposed. That will start at Denshaw before terminating at Saddleworth Pool or Greenfield railway station, taking in Delph, Dobcross, Diggle, and Uppermill. It is also proposed that smaller buses – with a maximum of 22 seats will be used. Changes will also be made to Saddleworth’s Local Link service.

We await Easter’s changes with great interest.

S.V., 23 January 2018.

11 thoughts on “Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, January 2018

  1. they allready use a smaller bus on 353/354 been 53703 which seats 21 also i think firstbus are start retirining older buses this year ie mercedes and B7s double decks


    1. Hi Michael,

      I hope somebody gets their hands on one of the Mercedes Citaros. I would like to see at least one preserved in the original Barbie livery. Also, if possible, another in the Olympia livery.

      Whereas I was glad to see the back of the Marshall bodied Dennis Darts (from Rotherham), my thoughts on the Citaros are more complimentary. This due to their acceleration rather than the seating layout.

      If they still have 53073 and win the 356 tender, a case of ‘business as usual’ for First. Apart from that, some of Stott’s narrow Solos with the single width door could be useful. Unless of course they are looking for an operator with smaller buses, like South Pennine Community Transport’s examples on the 352.

      Bye for now,



  2. Thank you for all your increased hard work and information Stuart.

    I wonder if a 356 service would see a return to buses using the Old Station Turning in Diggle?


    1. Hi Forgotten Tunnel,

      If approved by this Easter, I would say this is very likely. I can imagine the route following the 354 from Denshaw down to Dobcross (including The Navigation), then approaching Diggle a la 184 style before heading to Old Station Turning. On approaching Diggle, this is the only point where buses can turn around without reversing on Sunfield Drive.

      After the Diggle deviation, it would probably return to Dobcross (Wool Road this time), then Uppermill, and head towards the side streets taken via the 353/354 for Saddleworth Pool. Some, they say will continue to Greenfield railway station.

      On the other hand, they could deal with both possible termini and run as a clockwise/anticlockwise loop to the station and the Saddleworth Pool from The Commercial. The 356 could augment the curtailed 353s and 354s via Rush Hill Road and Wellington Road (or vice versa).

      Bye for now,



  3. the Diggle turning circle is locked off by a gate across with pad lock on also if firstbus keep the 353/354 and get the 356 where will they get solos like stotts newer ones as there are not many of that kind in the group


  4. It is indeed padlocked up as I noticed today – I read in another article online the access road to the termini at Diggle is ‘damaged beyond repair’.
    A smaller bus such as a Solo would comfortably be able to 3 point turn in front of the Diggle Hotel you would feel. This would mean a bus service down Sam Road once again.
    But if this doesn’t happen then I guess the only termini would be around Dorset/Sunfield Avenue (coincidently, a loop the previous 356 service did between 1999-2007.

    If this is the case they should consider relocating the modern glass bus shelter just before the Diggle Hotel and place it somewhere more useful.

    I wonder how long Denshaw has had a direct bus service to Ashton for?


  5. talking of Saddleworth buses services i think the 365 service should be reinsated from Huddersfield depot to Oldham as the 184 to Huddersfield is so unreblile my mother was stuck in Huddersfield on Saturday when 184 did not turn up


    1. Hi Leeds,

      The name’s so new that I cannot find them on Google. I can get results for the body formerly known as Tyne and Wear PTE but not the bus operator. Could they be local to the Saddleworth area? Or do they have roots in previous Greater Manchester operators?

      I wonder…?




  6. never heard of them also first bus are keeping 353/354 services i guess using the 3 they got from Doncaster


  7. Michael and Leeds,

    I think I may have the answer as to who Nexus are (in relation to the 356). Supposing they are the company known as Nexus Move Ltd, you might know them better for minicab hire. They own Radio Cars (Ashton-under-Lyne), A1 Taxis (Dukinfield), and Cavalier Radio Cars (Stalybridge).

    Here’s the details I have gleaned from the Companies House website:

    Almost a decade ago, I wrote a poem entitled Soon We’ll Be Walking Again. It foresaw the emergence of A1 Taxis as… a local bus operator. With minibuses. Furthermore, Radio Cars have had Local Link contracts for Demand Responsive Transport services in Tameside and Saddleworth.




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