First dumps 149 and 415 services whilst Stalybridge lose post-7pm links with Oldham
- Stagecoach Manchester takes over 149 and 415 services’ daytime journeys;
- Post 7pm and Sunday 340 journeys withdrawn and replaced by two-hourly Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys of 343 route;
- Stalybridge loses post-7pm links with Oldham following cuts to 340 and 408 services;
- Plus the usual slight tweaks and tender changes.
From the 28 April, First Greater Manchester will no longer operate two services on a full time basis. On a further three routes, they have lost tenders to Nexus Move and Stagecoach Manchester.
Whereas our fellows at Wallshaw Street have more or less pulled out of Tameside’s evening services, things have been a little quieter in Oldham and Saddleworth. That is unless you have an auntie in Stalybridge where changes to your 340 or 408 services do not make for good reading.
First pull out of 149 and 415 services
Of little surprise to regular passengers of the 415 service, First Greater Manchester have given up on one of Oldham’s oldest bus routes. From the 28 April 2019, Stagecoach Manchester will become the route’s full time operator. Prior to then, Stagecoach have operated its evening journeys and – of late – First Greater Manchester has rerouted their 415s via Moston. Thus avoiding Greengate bridge whilst being able to put on any old bus on the route.
Stagecoach, who also have a depot in Middleton (via its 2014 purchase of JPT Travel’s services) have taken on the service and reinstated its original route via Middleton Junction. In the last decade, it has seen its daytime timetable cut from every 10 minutes to once hourly.
The 149, another First route that has seen decline by means of permanent revolution has also transferred to Stagecoach. At one time, the service offered a convoluted way of travelling from Oldham to Manchester. Back when Bee Line had the route, you could go all the way to Heald Green. From the 28 April, most of its journeys will be extended from Oldham bus station to Chadderton [Park Avenue] via Royal Oldham Hospital.
This partly replaces M Travel’s 406 service, after M Travel decided to pull out of TfGM contracted work. Bucking the trend towards service cuts, the 412 service will be given an upgrade. Operated by MCT Travel on weekdays and Saturdays (Stagecoach Manchester on Sundays and Bank Holidays), its weekday service will operate once hourly. An improvement on its previous 90 minute frequency with an afternoon/early evening six hour gap.
Oldham’s Stalybridge links scuppered
For MCT Travel’s 408 service, the future of the route is secure just now. If you live in Shaw or Royton, you will be happy to see an upgrade on its Sunday and Bank Holiday service. Instead of being every two hours, it will operate once hourly.
Though the changes are great on the route’s northern section, seeing your auntie in Tameside Hospital or Stalybridge would be more difficult. From the 28 April, its evening, bank holiday and Sunday journeys will no longer continue to Stalybridge. As stated in our Tameside review, this would leave Montague Road without a single bus route to its name. Therefore, Stalybridge’s only direct link with Tameside Hospital will be the 389, which is fine if you can make the short and somewhat hilly walk up Fountain Street to the Hartshead Building.
As for travelling from Tameside Hospital to Oldham, a change of bus at Ashton for the 409, or the lengthy yet scenic 350 service. Before 2015 saw the withdrawal of most off-peak 408s south of Oldham, it offered a direct link with Stalybridge. From the 29 April 2019, the 343 will become Stalybridge’s only direct bus route to Oldham. Had there been an later evening service on the 340, this could have compensated for the 408’s curtailment.
But, being as we live in such strange times, changes to the 340/343 family of services will see the end of Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys on the 340 route. Instead, running to roughly the same hours as its predecessor, this will be replaced by additional journeys of the 343 route, making the 343 a daily service. Therefore, Lees Road will be served seven days a week. On the downside is its revised frequency: every two hours. Stagecoach Manchester will be operating the 343’s Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys.
In spite of its two-hourly frequency, the first journey will leave Hyde bus station at 0830 – 45 minutes earlier than the previous timetable. From Oldham, 0915 – 43 minutes earlier than previously.
From the 29 April 2019, there will be no evening journeys on the 343’s sister route, the 340. Therefore, the last bus from Hyde bus station will be Stotts Tours’ 1725 journey of the 343 service. In the opposite direction, the last bus from Oldham will depart at 1750. The sole surviving journey of the 340 service is an early morning weekday journey to Hyde which departs at 0740.
The 343’s revised Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys:
- From Oldham: 0915, 1115, 1315, 1515, and 1715;
- From Dukinfield [Albion Hotel] to Oldham: 0841, 1041, 1241, 1441, and 1641;
- From Dukinfield [Albion Hotel] to Hyde: 1015, 1215, 1415, 1615, and 1815;
- From Stalybridge [Bus Station] to Oldham: 0846, 1046, 1246, 1446, and 1646;
- From Stalybridge [Bus Station] to Hyde: 1009, 1209, 1409, 1609, and 1809;
- From Mossley [Brookbottom] to Oldham: 0841, 1041, 1241, 1441, and 1641;
- From Mossley [Brookbottom] to Hyde: 1015, 1215, 1415, 1615, and 1815;
- From Hyde: 0830, 1030, 1230, 1430 and 1630.
Other significant changes
To compensate for the 340’s withdrawal, the Greenacres Road section of the route will be replaced by evening journeys on the 81A service. They too will be operated by Stagecoach Manchester. Furthermore, the 49 service will be withdrawn, replaced by the leaner and meaner 149 (which has also absorbed the 406 service).
In the last month, the 58 service from Oldham to Rochdale was slated for withdrawal. The 59 was seen as the stronger route of the two Middleton – Shaw buses. Instead, First Greater Manchester has cut its daytime frequency from half hourly to hourly.
Minor service revisions, retimings and operator changes
The end of this month will see a change of operator for three Saddleworth routes. One of them will see a change to its evening service.
As well as the 149 and 415 services we mentioned earlier, Stagecoach Manchester have taken over the 350‘s evening journeys. There will be slight changes to its timetable with journeys running a few minutes later. Evening journeys will leave Ashton at 21 minutes to the hour from 1839 to 2239, and 24 minutes past the hour from 1824 to 2224.
The 350’s revised evening timetable:
- From Oldham: 1824, 1924, 2024, 2124, and 2224;
- From Uppermill [The Commercial Hotel] to Oldham: 1915, 2015, 2115, 2215, and 2315;
- From Uppermill [The Commercial Hotel] to Ashton-under-Lyne: 1857, 1957, 2057, 2157, and 2257;
- From Greenfield [former Conservative Club] to Oldham: 1910, 2010, 2110, 2210, and 2310;
- From Greenfield [former Conservative Club] to Ashton-under-Lyne: 1902, 2002, 2102, 2202, and 2302;
- From Mossley [Brookbottom] to Oldham: 1854, 1954, 2054, 2154, and 2254;
- From Mossley [Brookbottom] to Ashton-under-Lyne: 1919, 2019, 2119, 2219, and 2319;
- From Ashton-under-Lyne: 1839, 1939, 2039, 2139 and 2239.
On the 353 and 354 services, there will be a change of operator from First Greater Manchester to Nexus Move. Founded in 1973 as Radio Cars, Nexus Move are noted for operating the 356 Saddleworth Rambler from Greenfield to Denshaw. In some way, shape or form, this ‘reunites’ the northern sections of the 353 and 354 service.
There will also be two changes to the 396 route from Ashton-under-Lyne to Newton Heath (via Fitton Hill). Firstly, one Saturdays only journey from Newton Heath to Ashton at 0658 will be withdrawn. Secondly, Stotts Tours will be taking over the route.
Sticking with Fitton Hill, there will be two changes to the 425 service. After 6.30pm on the 28 April 2019, there will be a change of operator on its evening journeys (Stagecoach Manchester). There will also be changes to its evening journeys which till then are split into two routes (Oldham – Alt Estate circular and Oldham – Fitton Hill circular).
Instead, some journeys will run between Oldham and Holts Estate as a short distance route. Thereafter, some journeys from Holts Estate will run to Oldham and Fitton Hill before returning to Oldham. On Sunday and bank holiday evenings, as of now, just the Oldham – Fitton Hill circular shuttle route. Confused? You might be.
Only three services will see minor timetable changes in the Oldham and Saddleworth area. These affect Stagecoach Manchester’s 76 and 76A services, and First Greater Manchester’s 409 route. All three will see minor timetable changes during the weekday evening peaks.
Whereas Tameside came off worse than Oldham in the latest set of changes, there seems to be a whiff of retreat. With Go Ahead North West about to take charge of Queen’s Road depot on the 03 June 2019, one wonders what shall become of Oldham depot.
Slowly but surely, First are retreating from evening work. Hence the transfer of evening journeys of the 350 and 425 from Stagecoach Manchester. Also the cessation of evening journeys between Hyde and Oldham along the 343 route. Cuts to the 58 service from half hourly to hourly could be seen as a ‘win’ for the Metrolink. For passengers with heavy shopping bags unable to walk to Shaw tram stop, fewer chances of taking the quickest bus from Shaw to Oldham.
If service aren’t being cut, they can be unnecessarily complex for casual passengers. For Fitton Hill residents, a System One or GetMeThere pass is now an inevitability on the 425 route alone. Once you add the 396 to the mix, three different operators’ fares to remember if you pay by cash. If local control could be used to restore lost links, it offers an opportunity for simplified fares like the Metrolink’s zonal system.
As for the next set of changes (late July), I would expect few surprises other than changes to school holiday timetables. Then again, with the continuing saga of First Greater Manchester’s sale, one never knows.
S.V., 17 April 2019.