Spoils of FirstGroup’s Tamexit sees sweeping changes

  • Ashton local services rationalised;
  • No more post-7pm buses from Stalybridge to Hyde;
  • Sunday and Bank Holiday 236s axed.

Most of this September’s changes are affected by FirstGroup’s retreat from the Tameside area. Within the next month, Tameside’s biggest two bus operators will be Stagecoach Manchester and MCT Travel. As for the service changes, not particularly good reading.

You could be forgiven for thinking FirstGroup’s successors would run the 38, 39, 331, 333, 393 and 389 routes in their present form for a few months. Elsewhere in Greater Manchester, where Go North West and Diamond Bus North West have taken (or about to take) over FirstGroup’s routes, no timetable changes have been made.

Over in Tameside, it is time to get the taxi numbers added to your phone, download the Uber app, or look at driving schools.

Ashton local route updates

Ashton circular routes before and after map (daytime journeys).

The 331 and 333 routes hark back to Ashton-under-Lyne Corporation’s 1 and 3 routes. Apart from frequency changes, the Hurst and Smallshaw circulars have seen little change to their route. From the 01 September, they will form part of the 336 and 337 Hurst Super Circular routes. From Hurst Cross, they will no longer serve Queens Road, which is covered by the 231 route.

The 336 and 337 routes will also be a partial replacement for the 38 and 39 routes. The numbering of First Greater Manchester’s routes harks back to Pennine Blue’s operation, where at one point some journeys continued to Haughton Green. The higher section of King’s Road, up to Hazelhurst will be added to the new routes. Thereafter it will eschew Queens Road and Palace Road in favour of Rose Hill Road and Mossley Road. With this change, it is closer to Tameside Hospital than its predecessor (well, a shorter walk away).

As for the 393, this will form part of Stott’s Tours’ 396 service. Cutting out part of Turner Lane and Lordsfield Avenue, it will take a detour via King’s Road, Rowley Street, Smallshaw Lane and Cranbourne Road before reaching Vicarage Road. We think Rowley Street could be a hail and ride section of the rejigged route. After Vicarage Road, it will continue along the 396’s present route to Newton Heath via Fitton Hill.

What, might you ask, is going to become of the 395 route? Well, the 395 route to Limehurst Farm will be withdrawn. The Limehurst Farm estate section of that route will be added to the 396. Which, if you happen to live on the estate and support Ashton United, could be a useful link to seeing the Robins in action.

The evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday services are likely to follow the same pattern, though with some changes. Firstly, the Sunday and Bank Holiday only 338 route from Crowhill to Ashton and Waterloo will be withdrawn. The 339 service will be its partial replacement in Crowhill. As for its route in Waterloo, that is covered by the 396. Which, from the 01 September, will be running seven days a week between Ashton-under-Lyne and Limehurst Farm.

The new 336 and 337 routes will run every half hour in the daytime and once hourly on evenings, Bank Holidays and Sundays. During the daytime, they will be in the capable hands of Stagecoach Manchester’s Ashton Depot, where they will complement the 231. On the downside, Whiteacre Road will become a Bus Free Zone as will Ladbrooke Road and Curzon Road.

The 231’s brother, the 232, will also be seeing changes: this time with a pithier direct route to Hartshead via Queen’s Road and Lees Road, before reaching the Broadoak Hotel via St. Alban’s Avenue.

The shape of Ashton’s new local routes

  • 232: Ashton-under-Lyne – Hurst – Hartshead – Broadoak (MCT Travel – evenings only)
  • 336: Ashton-under-Lyne – Hazelhurst – Hurst – Smallshaw Circular (Stagecoach Manchester/MCT Travel);
  • 337: Ashton-under-Lyne – Smallshaw – Hurst – Hazelhurst Circular (Stagecoach Manchester/MCT Travel);
  • 339: Ashton-under-Lyne – Crowhill (MCT Travel – daytime only);
  • 396: Ashton-under-Lyne – Smallshaw – Hurst – Limehurst Farm – Fitton Hill – Failsworth – Newton Heath (Stott’s Tours/MCT Travel – evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys terminate at Limehurst Farm estate).
Ashton-under-Lyne circular changes map (evening, Sunday, and Bank Holiday journeys).

Stalybridge services slashed

Till January 2009, First Manchester and Stagecoach Manchester shared the 389 route. This scene in Armentieres Square, Stalybridge, was photographed on Christmas Eve, 2008.

Whereas FirstGroup’s retreat from Ashton-under-Lyne’s local services meant a radical overhaul, we could be less charitable about the changes affecting Stalybridge passengers.

Apart from being one of the six routes from FirstGroup’s Tamexit, the 389 route is set to be curtailed. At this moment, First Greater Manchester’s journeys terminate at Hyde bus station, whereas MCT Travel’s journeys continue all the way to Gee Cross. From the 02 September, Stagecoach Manchester will be taking over the route after a ten-year gap. If you think they are going to restore its link with Stockport or Marple, think again.

The new version of 389 route will run from Ashton-under-Lyne to Dukinfield as per its present route up to Fir Tree Lane. Thereafter, it will continue to Lyne Edge Road and Yew Tree Lane. Then it will return to Ashton-under-Lyne via Cheetham Hill Road. As a single clockwise loop.

Where does this leave the elderly passenger wishing to go up Yew Tree Lane from the Moravian Church? Stranded, unless s/he books a taxi. What about a nice trip to Hyde Park from the same spot? Forget it: catch a 346 and alight near Hyde Police Station. Or walk to Birch Lane and get a 343 to Flowery Field station. Then, walk along the path that leads to Hyde Park and hope nothing awful happens to you along the way.

In addition to substantially increasing the Yew Tree estate resident’s commuting time to Hyde town centre, Stalybridge loses a direct link with Hyde. After the last 343 bus leaves Stalybridge at 1845, the fastest way of getting to Hyde would be in a taxi. Or a Northern train to Ashton-under-Lyne then a 330. On public transport, a simple 15 – 20 minute journey on a single bus could mean an unnecessarily complex one with a change at Ashton (which alone is enough to put off the most ardent of ‘Bridgeites).

If you think MCT Travel’s evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys may fill the gap, think again. They too will be following suit. If there’s ever a case for restoring the 343’s evening journeys, the changes imposed on the 389 route are a clear example!

As for the other savage cut to Stalybridge’s bus services, the 236 will be losing its Sunday service. Therefore, on Sundays and Bank Holidays, a section between Dinting Vale Industrial Estate and The Gun Inn (via Woolley Bridge) will be a Bus Free Zone.

Glossop changes

As well as changes to the 236 route’s Sunday and Bank Holiday timetable, the 236 and 237 routes will revert to their non-summertime timetable. On South Pennine Community Transport’s 351 route to Holmfirth via Holme Moss, there will be minor timetable changes to its Saturday journeys.

Summer timetables

From the 01 September, the following services will revert to their non-summertime timetables:

  • 7: Stockport – Reddish – Gorton – Ashton-under-Lyne (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 150: intu Trafford Centre – Stretford – Chorlton-cum-Hardy – Longsight – Gorton – Denton – Hyde (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 201: Piccadilly – Ardwick – Gorton – Denton – Hyde – Hattersley (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 204: Piccadilly – Ardwick – Gorton – Denton – Haughton Green – Hyde (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 205: Piccadilly – Ardwick – Gorton – Denton (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 206: Piccadilly – Ardwick – Gorton – Denton – Haughton Green – Hyde – Gee Cross (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 207: Piccadilly – Ardwick – Gorton – Denton – Haughton Green – Hyde – Gee Cross (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 216: Piccadilly – Ancoats – Clayton – Droylsden – Ashton-under-Lyne (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 219: Piccadilly – Ardwick – Openshaw – Fairfield – Ashton-under-Lyne (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 221: Piccadilly – Ardwick – Openshaw – Audenshaw – Dukinfield [Tennyson Avenue] (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 230: Piccadilly – Ancoats – Clayton – Droylsden – Littlemoss – Taunton – Ashton-under-Lyne (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 231: Piccadilly – Ancoats – Clayton – Droylsden – Littlemoss – Hartshead – Tameside Hospital – Ashton-under-Lyne (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 236: Glossop – Dinting – Woolley Bridge – Mottram-in-Longdendale – Stalybridge – Ashton-under-Lyne (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 237: Glossop – Hadfield – Tintwistle – Mottram-in-Longdendale – Stalybridge – Ashton-under-Lyne (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 322: Haughton Green – Brinnington – Portwood – Stockport (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 327: Denton – Brinnington – Portwood – Stockport (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 330: Ashton-under-Lyne – Dukinfield – Hyde – Woodley – Stockport (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 345: Ashton-under-Lyne – Dukinfield – Audenshaw – Denton [Pendle Road] (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 347: Ashton-under-Lyne – Guide Bridge – Audenshaw – Denton – Haughton Green (Stagecoach Manchester);
  • 348: Ashton-under-Lyne – Stalybridge – Copley – Millbrook – Carrbrook (First Greater Manchester);
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Micklehurst – Hey Farm Estate – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Scouthead – Waterhead – Greenacres – Oldham (First Greater Manchester);
  • 409: Rochdale – Royton – Oldham – Hathershaw – Ashton-under-Lyne (First Greater Manchester).

Where next?

It is fair to say that the bones are now being cut. There is practically no fat or gristle left in Tameside’s bus network, which leaves enough space for expansion under a franchised system. If we chose to use medical allegories, our bus network is like Shane MacGowan’s mouth before he had dental implants.

We eagerly await the results and criticism of Ashton’s remodelled circular and radial routes. Could Stagecoach Manchester’s new broom be a vast improvement on the woes faced by passengers who have used FirstGroup’s routes? Since FirstGroup decided to review its activities in Greater Manchester, their retreat has been met by many people with relief and ecstasy. Some Oldhamers have been clamouring for them to jump ship.

I would be surprised if the curtailment of the 389 service doesn’t attract a shedload of complaints. Stagecoach and MCT may be blamed, but I would reserve your ire for the predecessors who have ran the service down beforehand. In the space of 15 years, Yew Tree Estate has gone from having four buses an hour to Stalybridge to two an hour (and once hourly at evenings). As for Stalybridge to Hyde buses in the same period, from seven per hour to three per hour. After 7pm, once an hour.

From the 01 September, only two buses per hour from Stalybridge to Hyde and nothing after 7pm. On Sundays and Bank Holidays, every two hours. We are talking about linking three towns with an estimated population of 80,000 (or 70,000 on the 387 via Mottram) with a bus service that is inadequate for Lincolnshire standards. For Greater Manchester this is beyond redemption and, at worst, scandalous. Have you tried getting a train from Stalybridge to Hyde? You need to change at Manchester Piccadilly!

As for First Greater Manchester’s remaining routes in Tameside, don’t be surprised to see a few more changes in the next year or so. Perhaps I need something more substantial than 60cwt of microwaveable popcorn.

S.V., 06 August 2019.

9 thoughts on “Tameside and Glossop Bus Service Changes, 01 September 2019

  1. On the plus side, South Pennine have registered a 357 between Holmfirth and Ashton together with a 359 between Holmfirth and Oldham! Interesting developments ahead.


    1. Hi Leeds,
      I knew about South Pennine Community Transport’s hints at expansion via their social media channels. What has surprised me more is their move into Oldham and a second Ashton route.
      I assume the 359 would follow First Greater Manchester’s 180s and 184s up to Greenfield. As for the 357, would this be an all stops equivalent to the X50 on another day of the week (Saturdays?) or a direct replacement? What could be good is if the 357s went via Whiteacre Road, Palace Road and Rose Hill Road prior to reaching Mossley Road.
      If a six-day-a-week service (!), it could be a partial replacement for some Ashton local services. That way, South Pennine’s buses could avoid the traffic lights at Queens Road.
      P. S. The 357 is a renumbered X50 service, which will operate on Tuesdays like its predecessor.


  2. Hello, Metro have just brought out a changing times booklet online for August so we now have some more detail now on the 357/9, the 357 looks to be a replacement for the X50 (I’m guessing it’ll have a changed route somewhere in the Greater Manchester area or take on more stops) and the 359 will run on Wednesdays. No other details at present I’m afraid, although if you message South Pennine directly they may give you the full details for you to publish on here as they are quite a people friendly firm.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello, South Pennine have posted about the changes with a bit more detail regarding the 357, it’s a direct replacement to the X50 stopping at all stops.


  4. Hi Stuart just to clarify stotts 396 will not serve kings rd and smallshaw lane it will just serve ladbroke rd and union rd section. I obtained the stops list for the route to confirm it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi James,

      Many thanks for the amendment. With this being the case, this leaves the lower section of Kings Road a Bus Free Zone. That it will serve Ladbroke Road is some relief for those passengers affected by the 393’s withdrawal.




  5. I can’t believe that the 38 & 39 are being cancelled and there’s no replacement for Kings Road or Whiteacre Road. This must affect hundreds of people who will now be house bound as they’ll be unable to walk to the nearest stop or afford taxis to and from Ashton. And the goverment says we should use more public transport!!!!


    1. Hi Andy,

      I don’t think the present-day government gives a flying fluff about the environment. If they did, they wouldn’t have even suggested fracking the Fylde peninsula, let alone inflict bus deregulation on us all on the 26 October 1986. As well as considering a cut to fuel duty.

      When the late not-so-great Nicholas Ridley brought bus deregulation to our shores, there were two main reasons. Firstly: they wanted to leave all of our bus services to the whims of market forces (hence the fact fewer than 20% of bus routes in Greater Manchester are tendered services).

      Secondly, he wanted a Maltese model where drivers owned their own buses and set their own fares, which would have killed off the influence of TGWU and NALGO. NALGO members may have set the routes, whereas TGWU members would have driven the things and faced worsening pay and conditions.

      Ultimately, this brought us to the consolidation of Stagecoach, First, Arriva and so forth. Inevitably, the profit motive isn’t compatible with providing solid links across Ashton/Tameside/North West/England/UK outside London and Belfast. Since May 2010, GMPTE and Transport for Greater Manchester has had year-on-year departmental cuts imposed on them by Central Government. This gives them less resources to fund existing tendered services – let alone additional routes. Hence changes to concessionary fares in 2011.

      With First Greater Manchester’s bombshell, this couldn’t have come at a worse possible time for our borough. Ashton has lost a lot of footfall due to construction work which when finished hopefully brings more people to the town. With the changes to your commercially-run 38 and 39 route, a hard sell. On the other hand, a great day for Amazon and so forth, with any development of future routes being stifled by white vans delivering online purchases.

      I was hoping that Stagecoach would have eschewed Mossley Road in favour of Whiteacre Road. I was disappointed being as Mossley Road is well covered by their 231, 389 and (shared with First) 350 route.




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