2018 World Cup of GM Bus Routes: Two Beautiful Bolton Routes

Game 1, Group A (McGuinness): 535 v. 1  

For our first fixture we look at two scenic routes which link Bolton with open countryside. One is a fairly regular service which continues to Blackburn via Darwen. The other, which used to go to Blackburn, is only every two hours.

Why is the 1 the one for me?

The 1 service is now Bolton’s most dependable connection with Darwen and Blackburn. Between Darwen and Blackburn buses run every 7 to 8 minutes in the daytime. Along the full route to Bolton, every fifteen minutes. On Sundays and Bank Holidays, every half hour (or every 15 minutes including the part route journeys). Given northern’s recent punctuality and reliability statistics, a viable alternative.

Its present operator is the Blackburn Bus Company which is part of the Transdev empire. As you may expect from them, modern buses with free WiFi as standard. As for the views, stunning once you leave Bolton and head towards the moorlands. Especially on the section past Bromley Cross up to Darwen.

Would Winter Hill give me a thrill?

The 535 is an elusive beast. Before local spending cuts took its toll, a similar route continued north of Belmont to Blackburn. What’s left of the former route terminates at Belmont and only has five to six journeys each way (plus a couple of part route journeys terminating at Astley Bridge and Bolton Interchange).

Once you leave Astley Bridge, the views up to Belmont are phenomenal. Even more so if you cop for a double decker bus. As you are heading north, you have the Winter Hill masts to your left, and the Springs and Dingle reservoirs in the distance.

Vision Bus are the only operators of the 535 service. Based in Blackrod, their buses have a sky blue livery, reminiscent of Horwich’s Blue Bus.

Full Time Score:

535 [Belmont] 0 – 1 1 [Blackburn]

A closely fought 1 – 0 win for the Blackburn Bus Company service. Though the 535 service has superior views, it stood no chance against the 1 service’s considerably better frequency.

S.V., 14 June 2018.

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