Diamond diversion sees 217 route extended to Wythenshawe Hospital
- Tameside gains direct bus link with Manchester Royal Infirmary and Wythenshawe Hospital;
- Stagecoach takes over evening journeys of Stockport – Ashton 7 route.
For the first time in over a decade, there will be no summertime retiming changes for Greater Manchester’s principal bus routes. Since 2008, Stagecoach and FirstGroup have changed their times to allow for lower traffic levels in the school holidays. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, no such changes were necessary.
Without devoting column inches to Summer Bus Times, you could be forgiven for thinking we have a clean slate. Not so this year, with changes being made to two routes. Both of which cover East Manchester.
Diamond’s diversion… and expansion
The biggest change this summer affects the 217 route from Ashton-under-Lyne to Droylsden and Piccadilly Gardens (via Clayton and Ardwick). In the last set of changes, the route ceased to serve Miles Platting and Hightown, taking in more of Beswick via Albert Street and Darley Street.
For Tameside passengers with hospital appointments at Manchester Royal Infirmary, and Wythenshawe Hospital, this summer’s change makes for good reading. From Piccadilly Gardens, the service will be extended southward – via Oxford Road for hospitals including the MRI and the Universities. Thereafter, it will continue to Wythenshawe Hospital via Withington, Northenden and Baguley.
On the flip side, this means the withdrawal of the 44 and 179 routes. At one time, the 44 was operated by Hayton’s Coaches. The 179 – once a Stagecoach route – had an idiosyncratic Sunday and Bank Holiday service of two return journeys to Stockport. All of which fitted around visiting times at Wythenshawe Hospital.
The soon-to-be-withdrawn version of the 179 goes from Wythenshawe to Reddish [Houldsworth Square]. As well as the supersized version of the 217 route, part of the 179 will be covered by a rejigged 172. This would also replace the 171 route.
This summer’s change to the 217 route sees the restoration of Tameside’s link with Wythenshawe Hospital, after a 33-year hiatus. At the start of bus deregulation, the 310 route was extended north of Stockport to Ashton-under-Lyne (via Denton and Guide Bridge). Its extension would be a welcome move for passengers who don’t fancy changing buses in Piccadilly Gardens.
Stagecoach bags evening and Sunday 7s
There is only one other change in this Summer’s selection of bus service changes, and this affects the 7 route from Ashton-under-Lyne to Stockport. Its evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys will see a change of operator from Diamond Bus North West to Stagecoach Greater Manchester.
Throughout the summer, its route will remain unchanged. From the 30 August, further changes are proposed. This time with the 7 taking over the 329 route. This would give Tameside and East Manchester folk a direct link with Broadstone Mill Shopping Outlet and Houldsworth Mill Shopping Centre. Had these changes been made 45 years ago, it could have been handy for the Poco a Poco, as the route takes in that part of Heaton Norris.
In the last week, South Pennine Community Transport has reinstated their Tuesdays Only 357 route from Ashton-under-Lyne to Greenfield and Holmfirth. The 359 from Oldham to Greenfield and Holmfirth is suspended at this time of writing.
This summer, no further changes are proposed for any of Glossop’s bus routes.
The Autumn Service Changes – more so with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic – will be a different, slightly more savage beastie. At this time of writing, it is envisaged that school services will run as normal from September. In a perverse sense, another return to ‘normality’ will be cuts to our local services.
From the 30 August, it is proposed that the 336 and 337 Hartshead Circular routes will be cut from half hourly to once hourly. This, apart from early morning journeys would put the routes in line with its evening and Sunday frequencies. (Or, more recently, the daytime timetable that its passengers ‘enjoyed’ two months ago).
There could be bad news for Woolley Bridge bus users which will find themselves part of a Bus Free Zone. The 236 could be scrapped with sister route 237 (via Tintwistle and Hadfield) being upgraded to three buses per hour. On the Hyde Road corridor, the 204, 206 and 207 routes could be simplified. This time with the 206 (before 7pm) and the 204 (after 7pm) being replaced by half hourly 207s. At present, the 207 exists as a peak hour extra, taking in both the 206 and 204 routes from Gee Cross and Hyde.
With the Coronavirus affecting the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s decision on re-regulated buses, we might see some light at the end of the tunnel by September. What we do know for sure is that Ashton-under-Lyne Bus Station Mark IV (officially Ashton-under-Lyne Interchange) will be open in time for the Autumn Service Changes.
Stand by for further announcements on this blog: do not touch that dial!
S.V., 14 July 2020.
Due to there being no service changes in Oldham and Saddleworth, there will not be an Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes post for this summer’s changes. Yes, we may be stating the obvious, but it is always polite to remind our readers.