Bury and Rochdale Bus Service Changes, 27 October 2019

Special Report: Transdev’s radical renumbering of local buses in Bury and Rochdale

  • Bury and Rochdale local services renumbered;
  • Plus tweaks to other bus routes in Rochdale and Bury.

For the first time in East of the M60‘s existence, we shall be looking at the service changes affecting Bury and Rochdale passengers. As many of our blog’s regular readers are based in Oldham and Tameside, we mainly focus on bus services in those two areas. Owing to the scale of the service changes in Bury and Rochdale, they are worthy of acknowledgement due to the ramifications this may have on Greater Manchester’s bus network.

In 1973/74, Rochdale’s local bus routes were renumbered within the 440 to 470 series of numbers. Most of Bury’s local buses, in SELNEC PTE’s great renumbering scheme were numbered within the 471 to 499 series of numbers. 400 was reserved for the Trans-Lancs Express whereas 500 was allocated to another express route from Bolton to Manchester Airport.

Since FirstGroup’s near retreat from Rochdale, Rosso became Rochdale’s principal local operator. After the operator’s privatisation and sale to Transdev in early 2018, it has been more forward in taking on First. It has been more innovative in route branding and modernised the fleet. Today, two of First Greater Manchester’s principal routes in Rochdale (the 17 and the 471) have changed hands. The 17 to Middleton and Manchester is operated by Go North West, whereas the 471 is Diamond Bus North West’s route to Bury and Bolton.

From the 27 October 2019, Rosso will be renumbering some of its local routes under the ‘R’ and ‘B’ prefixes. The principle is ease of use within a local network, though hellishly confusing for anyone who would welcome a standard set of route numbers across Greater Manchester.

Rochdale renumbering

Building on their success at gaining more market share in Rochdale, the town’s local routes – whether under Rosso or Burnley Bus Company licences – will be known as the Rochdale Runners. According to the Transdev website, we could also be seeing newer and smarter buses.

Rochdale’s local Rosso buses will be renumbered from R1 to R13. At present, numbers R6, R10, R11 and R12 are free (which could point towards expansion). R1 will be allocated to the 440 route from Rochdale to Syke with its route staying the same.

The 443 (Rochdale to Norden) and 461 (Bury to Norden) routes will be amalgamated into a single route from Bury to Rochdale via Bamford and Norden. This will be renumbered R2. Before privatisation, Rossendale Borough Transport’s 461 used to follow what will become the R2’s route. Yours truly used to catch the 461 from Bury as an alternative to the 471 in the late 1990s.

The 446 and 447 routes to Wallbank will be renumbered R3 and R13. During peak hours on weekdays and Saturdays, the R3 offers a direct route via Healey Dell. Outside the peaks, it is the turn of the R13 route. On Sundays and Bank Holidays, there will be eight return journey (once hourly) during the daytime.

MCT Travel’s 462 route (Rochdale – Milnrow – Ladyhouses) will be changing hands as well as numbers. From the 28 October 2019, Transdev – under the Burnley Bus Company licence – will be its new operator. This time with a change of number to R4. Its sister route, the 451 to Peppermint Bridge, will also change from MCT Travel to Burnley Bus Company hands as the renumbered R5. Both routes, as of before, lack a Sunday and Bank Holiday service.

In Castleton, the 434 will be renumbered R7. This, alas will have no Sunday and Bank Holiday service. With the 433 being withdrawn, there will be no Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys from Castleton to Rochdale via Queensway and Belfield. Augmenting the new-look R2 will be the R8, which is a renumbered 442 route. There will be sweeping changes with the 442’s forerunner operating in weekdays peak hours, evenings, and all day Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Transdev’s trump card between the peaks will be their FASTtrax route. During shopping hours, this express service from Bury to Rochdale will only have two intermediate stops: Fairfield Hospital and Bamford. Half hourly, this service will complement the all-stops 469 route to Tottington.

Transdev’s shortest route in Rochdale is the 441 (Foxholes Circular), which will be renumbered R9. Its revised timetable will only have two journeys: 0955 and 1255 from Rochdale Interchange, arriving at Foxholes for 1000 and 1300. This is a massive cut from the six hourly journeys of the present timetable (which leave Rochdale at 0955, 1055, then 1145, 1245, 1345, and 1455).

Rochdale renumbering:

  • 434: Rochdale to Castleton – R7 (from MCT Travel to Burnley Bus Company);
  • 440: Rochdale to Syke – R1 (from Rosso to Burnley Bus Company);
  • 441: Rochdale – Foxhole Circular – R9 (from Rosso to Burnley Bus Company);
  • 442: Rochdale to Norden – R8 (Rosso – peak hours, evenings, Sundays and Bank Holidays only);
  • 443 and 461: Rochdale to Norden and Norden and Bury – R2 from Bury to Rochdale (Rosso);
  • 446 and 447: Wallbank to Rochdale – R13 and R3 (from Rosso to Burnley Bus Company);
  • 451: Rochdale to Peppermint Bridge – R5 (from MCT Travel to Burnley Bus Company);
  • 462: Rochdale – Ladyhouse Circular – R4 (from MCT Travel to Burnley Bus Company);
  • FASTTrax: Rochdale to Bury – NEW express route replacing 442 between Rochdale and Bamford outside weekday peaks and Saturday daytimes (Rosso).

Bury renumbering and service changes

If you catch the 477 or 478 route from Bury to Ramsbottom via Summerseat, you will only have one route to remember: both routes will be absorbed into Burnley Bus Company’s B1 route. The timetable, you’ll be pleased to hear, is similar to its predecessor.

The 479 and 487 routes to Nangreaves and Walmersley will be absorbed by the B2 route. Outside the PM peak, the B2 will take in part of the 479 route. With the 494 to Ferngrove, Rosso’s journeys will transfer to the Burnley Bus Company licence and renumbered B3. Arriva North West’s evening journeys remain unchanged and, for the time being, retain the 494 route number.

Less confusingly, Rosso’s 475 route from Bury to Heywood will be renumbered as B4. Retaining its hourly timetable under Burnley Bus Company’s licence, it will become a circular route.

Bury renumbering:

  • 475: Bury to Heywood – B4 (from Rosso to Burnley Bus Company);
  • 477 and 478: Bury to Ramsbottom (via Summerseat) – B1 (from Rosso to Burnley Bus Company);
  • 479 and 487: Bury to Nangreaves and Walmersley – B2 (from Rosso to Burnley Bus Company);
  • 494: Bury to Ferngrove – B3 (from Rosso to Burnley Bus Company – no change to Arriva North West’s evening journeys on the 494 route).

Other service changes

In addition to Transdev’s much publicised renumbering, Burnley Bus Company will be taking over from Arriva North West on the 510 route’s Monday to Saturday evening journeys. Arriva’s Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys remain unchanged.

Go North West’s 17 and 17A routes will see minor timetable changes. Its sister route from Manchester Royal Infirmary to Langley, the 18, will also see an upgrade. From Manchester to Langley, additional journeys will be added to the route. This will compensate for the withdrawal of its sibling shuttle service (19) from Middleton to Langley. On the 41 route from Middleton to Sale, weekday AM peak journeys will be retimed.

On the 472 and 474, Diamond Bus North West’s Ramsbottom circular routes from Bury, there will some timetable changes to Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys, and evening journeys.

First Greater Manchester’s 409 route will see a slight change to its weekday and Saturday daytime service. This time, buses will be every nine minutes instead of every ten minutes. The 59 route from Manchester to Rushcroft via Middleton will also see minor timetable changes.

Where next?

We shall be watching Transdev’s changed routes with great interest. I for one wouldn’t mind taking a journey on their new-fangled express route over the 471 to Bury. Though the anorak in me would prefer to stick to the SELNEC/Greater Manchester Transport numbers, the R1s and B4s could be easier to learn among casual passengers than the 440s and the 475s.

The use of prefixed letters for local routes could return to the fore. GM Buses’ minibus routes were numbered in such a way to distinguish from big buses. Well before several local identities gave way to Little Gem (which also meant ‘Little GM’). How Transdev’s method would fit into a franchised network remains to be seen.

Supposing Transdev’s approach is rolled out across our city region, having two lots of B1s could be confusing. You could have Bx to cover Bury and Bolton with B1 – B49 for Bury and B50 – B99 for Bolton. Or BYx (Bury) and BLx (Bolton), though that could limit your local route numbers to nine per Metropolitan Borough.

A T prefix could be a tad confusing, if used for Trafford and Tameside routes. Passengers within the two boroughs may prefer A1 to A49 and A50 to A99 instead of T1 to T49 and T50 to T99 (in the context of Altrincham and Ashton-under-Lyne). Again, you could have TRx (Trafford) and TSx (Tameside).

The second half of this month will be quite an interesting one, not only for the service changes. This Monday [14 October] sees the opening of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s consultation on bus franchising. If you are passionate about taking your buses back into public control, I strongly urge you to participate in this exercise.

S.V., 11 October 2019.

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