Is this Greater Manchester’s most obscure bus route?

If you mention the 22 in relation to Greater Manchester bus routes, the first one that springs to mind is the long withdrawn route from Bolton to Stockport. The one that has been split at the intu Trafford Centre of late, renumbered 2 and 25.

Today, there is only one 22 route in Greater Manchester with a decent frequency. A service from Ashton-in-Makerfield to Warrington with an evening extension to Wigan. Did you know that Greater Manchester has a second 22 route?

This route is listed on Google Maps, yet it does not appear in any of Transport for Greater Manchester’s Bus Guides. It doesn’t appear in any of TfGM’s School Bus Timetables despite running at times conducive for school hours. Its route could be a works’ service, but its operating hours seem to be too late for an early morning shift or a tad too late for an afternoon shift.

With the original 22 route being between Bolton and Stockport (Eccles and Levenshulme [Lloyd Road] before then), you could be forgiven for thinking this was a bus for Trafford Park. Greater Manchester’s other 22 route is a circular route from Chadderton to Shaw via Royton. For some this number seems ‘off grid’, though in reality it wasn’t. Prior to withdrawal in September 2018, the Rochdale to Manchester express route was the 24.

The 22 from Chadderton to Shaw is a circular route operated by Matthew’s Travel. You may have heard of them as K Matt Coaches, their trading name seen on the side of their yellow vehicles. Their vehicles have been seen on rail replacement buses and on private hire duties for over 25 years. Operations began on the 06 September 2010, registered as a Limited Stop route.

The 22 is a circular route that takes 75 minutes to complete a full circuit with two journeys. Its first journey leaves Chadderton [Stock Lane] at 0755 before returning there for 0910. At intermediate stops, the times are as follows:

  • Chadderton Precinct (Stop B): 0757;
  • Royal Oldham Hospital (Stop D): 0802;
  • Royton, Red Rose Garage: 0807;
  • Cowlishaw Lane: 0810;
  • Shaw and Crompton, Metrolink stop: 0814;
  • Buckstones Estate, Terminus: 0819;
  • Shaw, Wrens Nest: 0824;
  • High Crompton, Post Office: 0836;
  • Heyside, Cornish Way: 0853;
  • Royal Oldham Hospital (Stop A): 0901;
  • Chadderton, Town Hall: 0906.

Its second journey leaves Chadderton [Stock Lane] at 1500, before returning there from 1620. With a long gap between its first and second journey, this is clearly a route for school day operation.

With the 0755 journey, the 22 arrives at Cowlishaw Lane before reaching Shaw town centre and returning to Chadderton via Heyside. On the 1500 journey, it reaches Shaw via Heyside before returning to Chadderton via Cowlishaw Lane.

  • Chadderton Precinct (Stop B): 1504;
  • Royal Oldham Hospital (Stop D): 1517;
  • Royton, Red Rose Garage: 1527;
  • Heyside, Cornish Way: 1531;
  • High Crompton, Post Office: 1545;
  • Shaw, Wrens Nest: 1553;
  • Buckstones Estate, Hillside Avenue: 1556;
  • Shaw and Crompton, Metrolink stop: 1601;
  • Cowlishaw Lane: 1604;
  • Royal Oldham Hospital (Stop A): 1610;
  • Chadderton, Town Hall: 1615.

Its afternoon journey arrives at the Royal Oldham Hospital stops at 1517 and 1610, which is fine for a short visit. If you wish to spend more time with your loved one, the 408’s hourly service to Shaw is a more viable option.

Part of a potentially good permanent route or three?

The 22 route takes in a few roads that are unserved by regular bus routes. Church Road is served by the 403, though Chamber Road – a continuation of Church Road – isn’t served by any bus route. Thankfully, getting to the nearest 403 or 408 bus stop is fairly walkable.

Unless we know different, Shaw Road between Blackshaw Lane/High Barn Road and Oldham Road could become a Bus Free Zone by the April of this year. Unless you count the 837 (a school service) and the 22 routes as the only buses to use that part of the A663.

Perhaps we could address this problem by giving the 412 from Oldham to Middleton a sister route. During the daytime, the 412 has a bus every 90 minutes, which is hourly after 7pm. With another route – the 413 – the daytime frequency between Oldham and Royton (and Mills Hill to Middleton) could be upgraded to every 45 minutes. That could follow the 412 up to Shaw Road then turn right onto Shaw Road, following the 418 route to Turf Lane. Instead of returning to Oldham, it would reach Mills Hill station via Broadway and Burnley Lane.

Close to that part of Shaw Road is the Salmon Fields Business Park, which is also a Bus Free Zone. There is scope for the creation of two circular routes from Oldham which begins at Turf Lane. Both routes will begin at Oldham, leaving the bus station via St. Mary’s Way, Henshaw Street and Coldhurst Street before joining Rochdale Road.

Thereafter, it would follow the 409 route to Shaw Road/Broadway junction. One route would turn right onto Shaw Road. Then it would turn right onto Salmon Fields continuing up to Higginshaw Lane and Turf Lane before returning to Oldham via Shaw Road. The second route would take a second right turn onto Turf Lane before continuing down to Higginshaw Lane and Salmon Fields. Thereafter, it would return to Oldham after turning left onto Shaw Road and left onto Rochdale Road.

As for the Chadderton section of the 22 via Featherstall Road North, the long-defunct 420 route used to go that way prior to reaching Manchester Road. It is hard to believe that such a principal road – at least south west of Chadderton Way – is a Bus Free Zone. What if you need to pop in to TESCO Extra?

Had the Metrolink not been built along the Oldham Loop Line, there would have been a good case for restoring the 420 route from Shaw to Manchester. It is, I suppose a ‘nice to have’ option. Perhaps we should restore Featherstall Road’s connection with the bus network with a circular route.

Before I go…

Have you ever caught, or tried to catch, the elusive 22 route? Feel free to comment.

S.V., 13 January 2020.

View of Shaw, Royton, Oldham and Manchester from Crompton Moor by Michael Ashton, 01 August 2007. (Creative Commons License: Attribution Unported 3.0).

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