First retreats from evening routes whilst Stalybridge sees post-7pm Oldham links severed
- Post 7pm and Sunday 340 journeys withdrawn and replaced by two-hourly Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys of 343 route;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;
- Manchester Airport link curtailed;
- Plus the usual slight tweaks and tender changes.
If you thought April 2015’s service changes were brutal, this month’s are a close second. Especially for Stalybridge passengers who are facing a double whammy of bus service cuts.
Stalybridge’s Oldham links obliterated
In a week where politicians of some persuasions see the end of freedom of movement as a good thing, the freedom of movement from Carrbrook to Mossley on public transport has been obliterated. Anyone wishing to visit The Stamford Arms in Heyheads should add First Choice County Cars’ number to their mobile devices.
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 the same hours as its predecessor, this will be replaced by additional journeys of the 343 route, making the 343 a daily service. For the people of Carrbrook village, they see the return of their Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys to Mossley and Oldham (saving a modest walk down to the former Buckton Castle pub). 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. Between Oldham and Lees, the Greenacres Road section of the 340 will be replaced by evening journeys on the 81A service to Holts Estate. They too will be operated by Stagecoach Manchester.
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. First Greater Manchester’s retreat from the 340 service is only the tip of the iceberg of their retreat from post-7pm journeys in the Tameside area. Therefore, the sole surviving journey of the 340 service is an early morning weekday journey to Hyde which departs at 0740.
Whereas Brushes Estate and Carrbrook village retains its evening journeys, the people of Dukinfield will fair much worse. Its only post-7pm bus from Stalybridge to Dukinfield will be the hourly 389 service. For passengers continuing to Hyde, a much extended journey time. From the Albion Hotel, walking to Stalybridge (if you are fully fit) is a quicker option compared with changing buses at Ashton.
With the 340’s post-7pm journeys ditched, you would have expected a fallback option for Stalybridge passengers wishing to get to Oldham without changing at Ashton. That option will no longer be available after 7pm. MCT Travel’s 408 service will no longer cover the Stalybridge to Oldham section of the route. This would leave Montague Road without a single bus route to its name. 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.
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.
Tameside’s airport link grounded
Thanks to that old chestnut called congestion, the 330‘s Manchester Airport links will be severed. With the 330 reverting to being an Ashton – Stockport bus, the X30 will take over the 330’s half hourly Ringway section down to the airport and the World Freight Terminal.
Minor service revisions, retimings and operator changes
First Greater Manchester’s protracted sell off of its Greater Manchester operations has spawned another chapter. From the 28 April 2019, the company will only have two full time services out of Tameside to its name. Two Saddleworth routes will also be seeing a change of operator whereas a third Saddleworth route will see a change to its evening service.
At the expense of First Greater Manchester, Stagecoach Manchester has picked up a few journeys from Oldham depot. In Oldham they have taken over the 415 service (more in our look at Oldham’s and Saddleworth’s service changes) and the 350‘s evening journeys. Upon their takeover, 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.
A few years ago, though not on this blog, I predicted that A1 Taxis would go into bus operation by the end of this decade. In the last year, they almost have, due to their takeover by Radio Cars. Nexus Move, which has a fair chunk of market share in Tameside’s private hire market, have added two more Saddleworth routes.
At the expense of First, its white minibuses will be seen on the 353 and 354 routes from Ashton to Uppermill and Carrcote. This will complement existing operations on the 356 Saddleworth Rambler service. Instead of life-expired Optare Solos, Nexus Move’s modern yet slightly smaller minibuses will make light work of Carrhill Road.
MCT Travel, who benefited from a number of tender gains in 2015 lost the 395 and 396 routes to Stotts Tours. For the 396, one journey from Newton Heath to Ashton at 0658 will be withdrawn on Saturdays. Losing two journeys in its transition from MCT to Stotts is the 395 service from Ashton to Limehurst Farm. Its 1558 and 1703 southbound journeys have been withdrawn. Therefore, the last bus will be at 1458 on weekdays and 1658 on Saturdays.
Minor changes affecting First Greater Manchester routes in Tameside concern the 409 and 348 routes. On the 348 service, the last journey from Ashton to Carrbrook on weekdays and Saturdays will be at 2310. This is in line with its Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys. The 409 will see some minor timetable changes during the weekday evening peaks.
The 150, Stagecoach Manchester’s controversial replacement for the 168 and 169 routes will see its first timetable change. Between Chorlton and intu Trafford Centre, westbound journeys will be retimed. There will also be peak period retimings for the 201, 203, 204, 205, 206, and 207 services. As well as Hyde Road, this will also be true of Stagecoach Manchester’s routes along Ashton Old Road. Yes, more peak hour retimings for the 219 and similar changes to its peak hour companion from Dukinfield (the 221).
With the 347, say no more: another sprinkling of peak hour retimings. As for the 236 and 237, some subtle changes to the retimings of all Stagecoach Manchester’s journeys. There is one schooldays only journey of the 237 from the former Glossopdale College site that will be extended to Shirebrook Park.
As we said on numerous occasions, the post-Easter service changes are the most brutal. In this borough, Dukinfield and Stalybridge passengers have been at the sharpest end. As the biggest changes affected tendered services, it is foolish to apportion the blame on the operators. Also stupid to blame local authorities.
Before you go to your polling station on the 02 May for the Local Elections, please remember this piece of sage advice. The buck lies with Central Government who have continued to impose departmental cuts on Transport for Greater Manchester. Not least cuts to local government support grants to our councils. Cuts where even the kind of cuts experienced by a Conservative council in the Home Counties would command a significant boost in spending power for a staunch Labour council.
Whether tendered or commercial services, the elephant in the room is a lack of local control. Would localised control ensure that Montague Road gets a full time bus service for the first time since 2015? Could it get the 343 back to pre-deregulation frequencies? We hope Andy Burnham goes for the franchising option, otherwise he would have a clean slate to begin with in some areas.
The next few months will be interesting. With the transfer of First Greater Manchester’s Queen’s Road fleet to Go-Ahead North West, who will purchase Oldham depot’s operations? Things are moving at a slow pace, though their retreat from Tameside after 7pm could see another recasting of services prior to eventual sale.
For once, the summertime service changes could make for interesting reading beyond the usual school holiday timetable revisions. All will be revealed.
S.V., 17 April 2019.