Forthcoming service changes for Oldham and Saddleworth bus passengers

For Oldham’s bus passengers, there is little to report in April’s changes compared with Tameside’s changes. Stagecoach’s mere tinkering around the edges only affects one route.

At the sharp end of this month’s service changes is Holts Estate. Just off the Lees New Road, this part of Oldham will be affected by two timetable changes. As stated in the Tameside service changes, the 397 will be extended to North Manchester General Hospital and renumbered. Also, in the same article, some changes to the 350 route.

Holts’ Lees link halted

If you fancy taking the 80 from Holts Estate to Lees and Springhead, that joy will no longer be available as of the 11 April 2021. In the last year, the 80’s Monday to Saturday daytime journeys have been replaced by a rerouted 184 between Greenacres and Lees. What is left of the former First Greater Manchester route is its evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys, operated by Stagecoach Greater Manchester.

From Sunday, there will be evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys part route journeys of the 184. These will terminate at Grotton, augmenting the 84 route that continues to Uppermill and Huddersfield. Confusingly, the full route of the 184 is between Huddersfield and Oldham from Monday to Saturday, whereas on Sundays and Bank Holidays, it is an extension of 84 route from Manchester city centre.

(Soon to be) Holts Estate’s only route, the 425, will see some changes to its timetable. This will only affect the evening journeys that are operated by Stagecoach Greater Manchester. The same is true of its sister route in Fitton Hill, the 426. Again with timetable changes to Stagecoach Greater Manchester’s evening journeys.

Not a million miles away from Fitton Hill (well, literally down Fir Tree Avenue), the people of Hathershaw, Hollins and Hollinwood, will be getting a direct link to North Manchester General Hospital. This time, courtesy of a newly upgraded version of the 397.

Operated by Little Gem (the old GM Buses name recently revived by Go Goodwins), the 397 terminates at Newton Heath. From the 12 April, this service will be extended to North Manchester General Hospital via Cheetham, taking on Stott’s Tours’ 151 route. The newly extended 151 route will have an hourly frequency – a welcome uplift on its present 90 minute frequency.

Other Oldham service changes

With non-essential retail reopening, passengers on Stagecoach Greater Manchester’s 76 route has been given a boost. This time, with the reinstatement of the 76A route on Saturdays. There are some timetable changes to Go North West’s journeys on the 415 route.

Saddleworth service changes

In addition to the confusing changes that affect passengers on the 84 and 184 route, there are less confusing changes for Saddleworth passengers on two routes. Firstly, there will be some retiming changes to Stagecoach Greater Manchester’s journeys on the 350 route. Secondly, the 343 will be getting an extra weekday journey departing at 0740 from Oldham Central Bus Station. This is in lieu of the 340, an AM peak hour route that runs five times a week.

Where next?

Unless you live on Holts Estate, there are no changes that will create any discord or seismic shifts in the Oldhamer’s travel habits. The one quibble I have is, “who’s idea is it to make Saddleworth’s buses any more confusing than they are now?” We did alright with 180s every half hour to Greenfield, 184s to Huddersfield with part routes to Uppermill and Grotton, and the 350s between Uppermill and Waterhead taking on parts of the old 13 and 14 (later 183 and 184) routes. If you compare First Greater Manchester’s Oldham network in 2013 with the one eight years on, the former was a lot less confusing. Especially with Sholver having a full time Manchester link, and the 81A giving Holts Estate Manchester buses too.

Will the next set of changes spring us any surprises, or will it be the usual Summertime Timetable changes? We shall see.

S.V., 05 April 2020.

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