Hallowe’en horrors await Oldham bus passengers
- Sweeping changes made to 74 and 76 routes’ evening journeys;
- 415 slashed from half hourly to once hourly;
- Cuts made to 24 route.
Whereas Tameside bus passengers got off lightly with this month’s service changes, the same couldn’t have been said with our friends in Oldham and Saddleworth.
As stated in our previous look at Oldham’s service changes, the biggest changes affect Failsworth bus passengers. Particularly those who catch the 74 or 76 services. Before 7pm, the 76 offers a direct link with Manchester city centre from Oldham town centre. By night, and on Sundays and Bank Holidays, it is the preserve of the 74 service.
From the 28 October, these will be taken over by the 76 service. What had been proposed was the splitting of the route at Failsworth (Day Drive). One half would continue to Manchester as a commercially-run service, with the Failsworth – Oldham section being covered as a TfGM tendered service.
If you thought changes to the 74 and 76 services were far-reaching, spare a thought for regular passengers of the 415 service. In the last five years, the service has been chopped, changed, and slashed like nobody’s business. Ten years ago it had a daytime frequency of every 15 minutes. From the 28 October, it will be cut to once hourly. There is no change of operator, though First Greater Manchester’s daytime journeys will now begin at Mumps Bridge. Will Oldham’s oldest bus route be operating after 2020?
If you catch the 24 service in the peak hours, cuts are coming your way. On the 24 service, this will be slashed from nine journeys to seven journeys. From Rochdale, buses will depart at 0600, 0626 and 0650; then from Piccadilly Gardens, 1623, 1723, 1753, and 1823. These changes will see the withdrawal of the 0725 journey to Manchester, and the 1653 to Rochdale.
Slight changes will be made to First Greater Manchester’s 58 and 59 routes. The 409 service will also be seeing some minor timetable changes. There will be one change to the 425 service. Its 0500 journey from Oldham to Fitton Hill will depart at 0455.
This will also be the case with Stagecoach Manchester’s 183 service from Royal Oldham Hospital to Limeside. On the 180 service, its weekday 1622 journey from Grotton to Manchester will be extended to start from Greenfield. The new departure time from The Clarence Hotel will be 1612.
Sticking with Saddleworth, subtle changes will be made to the 350‘s weekday service. The only tangible change affecting this route is the loss of a part route Schooldays Only journey from Waterhead to Saddleworth School. This, till the 29 October 2018, is the only non-First Greater Manchester journey (operated by Rosso).
The biggest change affecting Greater Manchester’s bus routes, besides the renumbering of Stagecoach Wigan’s local services affect our favourite free bus service around Manchester city centre.
From the 28 October, Metroshuttle will be known as the Free Bus. Instead of three routes, this will be pared down to two routes. Route 1 will be a circular route from Manchester Piccadilly railway station via Piccadilly Gardens, Deansgate, and King Street before returning via Chorlton Street.
Route 2 will take in the sights, sounds, and shops of Manchester city centre, focusing on its tourist attractions. From Piccadilly it offers a link to Victoria via the Gay Village, Castlefield and Deansgate, before returning to Piccadilly via Shudehill and the Northern Quarter. During the peaks, Salford Central station is also served.
As a neat trade off, there will be more Free Buses on weekdays and Saturdays – with journeys running till 10pm. Public holiday and Sunday journeys will finish for 6pm.
The people of Oldham, especially those living on Fields New Road, have been given the shortest of short straws. In the space of ten years, why has the 415 service been butchered several times over? Has the Metrolink affected patronage on the 24 service?
Apart from the usual retiming changes, should we expect more cuts in January 2019?
S.V., 24 October 2018.