Bank Holiday changes see last minute reprieve for Dane Bank – Denton link
- 204, 206 and 207 replaced by new 202 service;
- New Denton – Dane Bank link created – thanks to local campaign;
- 7 split into three variants (7, 7A and 7B);
- 205 reverts to being Dane Bank – Piccadilly Gardens bus route;
- Cuts to Saturday journeys on 350 route;
- Change of operator and route for 236 service;
- Plus all the usual minor changes.
Just to make things a little confusing, this year’s Autumn changes will be implemented on the eve of August Bank Holiday. In the past decade, the August changes have taken place on the Sunday after August Bank Holiday, giving some Bank Holiday travellers a week’s grace.
This set of changes were always going to be interesting. Firstly, the United Kingdom is in some sort of lockdown thanks to COVID-19. Some parts of the UK – like Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and the whole Leicester City Council area – have stricter lockdown measures.
The pandemic was always going to have an impact on bus operators’ revenues – whether hours or weeks after Boris Johnson battened down the hatches. Most of Greater Manchester’s bus routes have returned to pre-pandemic timetables. Notable exceptions include the 221, running at 83% of its normal timetable (six journeys instead of seven). The 389 is still running to an hourly frequency in the daytime – down on last year’s half hourly frequency during the day.
In Tameside, part of the New Normal retains some of the Old Normal with the latest changes. If you have read these briefings often enough, this means rerouting, reduction and restructure. For many Tameside school children, these 3Rs would have has great an impact on their lives as their socially distanced Maths lessons.
Hyde Road Recasting
A lot of Tameside’s changes have come from Stagecoach Greater Manchester’s recasting of their Stockport and South Manchester routes. Causing great controversy has been changes to Hyde Road corridor routes.
At present, three routes go from Gee Cross to Piccadilly Gardens via Haughton Green and West Gorton. You could be forgiven for thinking these three routes run all day long. The 204 runs after 7pm, plus Sundays and Bank Holidays, though only from Hyde. The 207 runs from Gee Cross to Piccadilly Gardens, though only has a peak hour extra route like the 221 does from Tennyson Avenue. Before 7pm, the main route between Gee Cross and Piccadilly Gardens is the 206. For anyone new to Gee Cross, Haughton Green or West Gorton, it is a muddle to say the least.
From the 30 August, all these routes will be replaced by the 202. This would follow the outgoing 206 route. Therefore, instead of the present piecemeal approach, the less direct way from Hyde to Piccadilly Gardens will be covered by the 202 – seven days a week from 5am to midnight. Therefore, you would have the following buses between Piccadilly Gardens and Debdale Park:
- 201: Piccadilly Gardens – Ardwick – Gorton – Debdale Park – Denton – Hyde – Hattersley [John Kennedy Way]
- 202: Piccadilly Gardens – Ardwick – West Gorton – Debdale Park – Denton – Haughton Green – Hyde – Gee Cross;
- 203: Piccadilly Gardens – Ardwick – Gorton – Debdale Park – Reddish – Stockport;
- 205: Piccadilly Gardens – Ardwick – Gorton – Debdale Park – Dane Bank.
One downside of the changes is that evening journeys on the 202 will be hourly with an earlier finish. Potentially, this could leave the 204, 206 and 207 numbers free for other Hyde Road corridor routes. As for the 205 route, this would see an upgraded timetable: from every half hour to every twenty minutes in the daytime. To accommodate this, the 205 will revert to terminating at Dane Bank instead of Crown Point – much to the ire of Dane Bank bus users unable to get to their own town centre!
On Saturday [15 August], we found that Dane Bank passengers were spared that misery, thanks to sustained local campaigning. It was announced by Denton and Reddish M.P. Andrew Gwynne that a new 305 route would bridge the gap. What we know for sure is that the new route would cover the Dane Bank – Denton of the 205 route. What we do not know as yet, is who the operator will be, and as to whether this would be a standalone route or tacked on to an existing TfGM tendered route. Perhaps the 305 should go via Windmill Lane, avoiding the worst excesses of Denton Island congestion and begin at the Reddish [former Bulls Head] terminus. Whatever route it takes, we are pleased to hear of a resolution.
Whilst we stay with Reddish bus routes, there will be a three way split to the 7 route. Firstly, Dane Bank’s link with Stockport, Gorton and Ashton-under-Lyne will be cut from half hourly to once hourly. The half hourly service will see a split with once hourly 7s and once hourly 7As. The 7A will cut out Dane Bank and take over the withdrawn 329 route from North Reddish – via Broadstone Mill Shopping Outlet and Houldsworth Mill.
After 7pm, the hourly journeys will be renumbered 7B, serving both Broadstone Mill Shopping Outlet and Dane Bank proper. Perhaps we could make use of those spare 204, 206 and 207 numbers, but that would be ‘off grid’ as the 7, 7A and 7B aren’t Manchester-bound routes.
Local links whittled?
At the start of this month, there was a possibility of the 336 and 337 Hartshead Circular routes being cut from half hourly to once hourly in the daytime. According to the Stagecoach website, these changes seem to be postponed. What is definite is that Stagecoach Greater Manchester will be saying goodbye to the 236 route. From the 01 September (the 236 no longer has a Sunday service), the hourly 236 journeys will be replaced by extra 237s. Therefore, there will be three 237s per hour on Monday to Saturday daytimes.
On that date, there could be four buses an hour to Glossop for most of the daytime. North Western (an offshoot of GB Coaches, inspired by the Scouse North Western instead of the iconic North Western Road Car Company of Stockport) will bridge that gap. This time with a new 236 service from Ashton to Glossop. The new version of that route will have more in common with the defunct 387. From Ashton-under-Lyne to Mottram-in-Longdendale, it would reach Stalybridge via Tameside Hospital and Ridge Hill WMC. From The Gun Inn, it would follow the old 236 route to Dinting Arches, before turning right towards Gamesley.
After serving Gamesley estate, it will return to the A57 before taking a detour around Simmondley. Operating from a bus depot on Manchester Road, Kingston, the 236 will operate once hourly with a two hour break for lunch. The new service will begin operation on the 07 September.
Over in FirstGroup Land, the Tameside trio of routes have operated under temporary timetables on Sundays and Bank Holidays. There has been hourly all day frequencies instead of half hourly frequencies during Sunday trading hours on the 348 and 350 routes. The 350 will be the subject of some cuts from the 05 September. At present, the daytime Saturday service is every 15 minutes between Ashton-under-Lyne and Mossley railway station. From the 05 September, this will be cut to half hourly – by means of the discontinuation of part route journeys from Ashton-under-Lyne to Micklehurst.
Another change will see all weekday part route journeys serving Hey Farm instead of Micklehurst. Therefore, from September, you will have four buses per hour from Ashton to Hey Farm (two per hour to Oldham), and two per hour along the full route on Saturdays. If you live on Hey Farm Estate, now is a good time to rediscover the 343 timetable if you’re heading to Top Mossley. The post-lockdown changes to its Sunday and Bank Holiday service will be made permanent, with 350s once hourly all day long. (Stagecoach’s evening journeys remain unchanged).
The 348 will see a ‘boost’ to its Saturday timetable. Its lockdown-era half hourly frequency will be increased from every half hour to every 20 minutes. Even so, this is a far cry from October 2007 daytime frequencies when 348s ran every ten minutes (at the expense of the 349 route). Also down on every 15 minutes on weekdays (and Pennine’s weekday frequency of every 15 minutes between Stalybridge bus station and Carrbrook village on the 32 – 35 routes).
There will be some minor retiming changes for some of Tameside’s bus routes. This will affect the 201 to Hattersley, the 232 (Ashton-under-Lyne – Broadoak Circular) and the 41A (Ashton-under-Lyne – Tennyson Avenue). Not so minor timing changes will affect Stagecoach’s journeys on the 396 to Limehurst Farm. Its evening journeys will depart five minutes earlier than the present times. Therefore, if you’re supporting The Mighty Robins at Hurst Cross, the last bus to Ashton Interchange will leave Rowley Street at about 2155 instead of 2200. On the 335 route from Ashton to Denton [Town Lane], the 1620 journey will depart at 1622.
There will also be some retiming changes for South Pennine Community Transport’s 357 route (Tuesdays Only) from Ashton-under-Lyne to Mossley and Holmfirth.
As detailed earlier, the biggest changes concern the 236 and 237 routes. The only other changes that will affect Glossopian bus passengers in September concern the 351 route to Holmfirth. There will be changes to the times of South Pennine CT’s route via Crowden and Holme Moss.
Last week, we said how the next set of changes would be a savage beast. In most cases we were right. What we didn’t foresee was the loss of Saturday buses on the 350 between Micklehurst and Ashton-under-Lyne. Or a partial reprieve for Dane Bank residents in the 305 route.
Supposing GB Coaches’ maiden voyage with the 236 goes to plan, the restoration of a Tameside Hospital link with Stalybridge is good news. We hope it is a success, though there is one problem for passengers: Different Operator Syndrome. This could be problematic on Mottram Road, unless you have a System One or GetMeThere pass. The three Stagecoach buses and one indie operator per hour makes the Megarider a better buy for cost-conscious passenger. Even with needing to sit cross-legged in the TESCO queues on High Street West.
On a slightly happier note, these changes will coincide with the opening of Ashton-under-Lyne Bus Station Mark IV. It is expected that the bus station will open on the 23 August – the Sunday before the next changes kick in. Needless to say, East of the M60 will do its utmost to look at the new facility (and try to buy Dizzy Blonde instead of some craft beer in The Prince of Orange).
As for the bus re-regulation decision, we are still on tenterhooks. The suspense is almost as bad as that Yuletide period when I waited an eternity outside Shopping Giant for a 415.
S.V., 18 August 2020.
Postscript: Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes
There are two service changes that will affect Oldham and Saddleworth bus passengers, and these will concern South Pennine Community Transport’s routes. There will be changes to the timetable of the 352 (Saturdays Only) route from Uppermill to Holmfirth. The 359 from Oldham to Greenfield and Holmfirth (Wednesdays Only) will be withdrawn as of the 02 September.