End of an era for two iconic bus routes with cuts to Chadderton bus route

How many black cats have the great travelling public of Oldham and Saddleworth run over to effect this spring’s set of changes? The latest set of service changes have seen Oldham and Rochdale at the sharpest end of the cutbacks.

The most high profile and controversial changes affect the 408 and 435 bus routes. Both routes will be withdrawn and replaced by two circular routes and a circuitous local route.

Historically, the 408 route was the 8, an Oldham Corporation Transport Department and Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Joint Transport Board joint route. For most of its recent history (apart from one year when it ran to Denshaw), it was extended to Shaw. In 2014, it was extended southwards to Droylsden, taking over part of the 217 and 218 routes. In 2015, its full time Tameside link was severed, running between Oldham and Shaw. More recent changes saw the route extended northwards towards Rochdale, replacing part of the 181 and 182 routes.

For the most part, it follows the 409 route from Oldham to Royton before going to High Crompton and Shaw. From Monday, the quickest way from Oldham to Shaw will be via Metrolink tram or a Z Cars minicab. From Oldham to Shaw, it will be part of an expanded 402 route via Chadderton Hall Park and Middleton Road. At 45 minutes from start to finish, almost a sandwiches job. There will also be a change of operator to Rosso. In a previous life as the public sector operation of Rossendale Borough Transport, the company ran evening journeys on the ‘proper’ 408 route from Shaw to Stalybridge in the late 1990s. Nexus Move will also be running newly added evening journeys.

As for the 435 route, this service has its origins in North Western Road Car Company’s foray into Oldham and Saddleworth. One bright spot is it would almost be back to its original form as a Rochdale to Shaw bus routes. From Monday it will become two circular routes, the R9 and R10. This will also take over the Rochdale to Shaw section of the outgoing 408 route.

Changes to the 402 route will also affect Derker passengers. Next Monday sees the discontinuation of its Derker link, which will be spun off into a new 411 route. After 7pm, Stagecoach Manchester’s evening journeys on the 81 will remain unchanged. The same, alas, couldn’t be said of First Greater Manchester’s journeys. The 81, despite its early start at 0451 from Oldham Bus Station, will be cut to once hourly on Saturdays.

With the withdrawal of Stott’s Tours’ 125 route from Middleton to Alkrington Garden Village, the 159 will see a change of route. Instead of going via Middleton Junction and Moorclose, it would serve Alkrington Garden Village via Mainway, Evesham Road and Andover Avenue. There will be a slight change of route in Chadderton town centre – via Stockfield Road, Melbourne Street and Cobden Street.

The 403, created from the spoils of the much-missed 410 and 411 circular routes sees a change of operator and route. Its revised route will take in Higginshaw Road, Higginshaw Lane, and Turf Lane. Rosso will become its new operator, continuing the Transdev subsidiary’s southward march into Oldham.

Joining The Two Hour Club this spring is the 415 route. Its evening journeys will be every two hours. Most significantly, all journeys will be operated by Go North West, which means there will be Middleton Minis seven days a week. Even so, it is a far cry from 2004 when the 415 had buses every 10 to 15 minutes in the daytime.

Operator changes

As stated in our Tameside and Glossop Bus Service Changes bulletin, the 151 from North Manchester General Hospital to Ashton-under-Lyne (via Hollinwood) will become a Stott’s Tours route. Its sister route, the 396 will see a change of evening operator, with Stagecoach Manchester taking over after 7pm (and on Sundays and Bank Holidays). There will be an additional journey from Ashton-under-Lyne to Middleton, departing at 2231. This is an extension of a part-route journey to Limehurst Farm Estate.

There will be a change of operator for three journeys on the 184 route. First Greater Manchester’s recently added part route journeys from Oldham to Diggle and Marsden will be taken over by Nexus Move. From Oldham to Diggle, that will be the 2005 and 2205, with the 2005 terminating in Marsden. On the way back, this will be the 2101 journey from Marsden to Oldham. Though worthy additions as individual journeys, there is no way you could nozzle a pint in fourteen minutes at The New Inn nearby.

Minor timetable changes

There will also be retiming changes to the 82 route on weekdays and Saturdays. Two journeys to Holts Estate will be cut from First Greater Manchester’s 425 route, which affect the 1748 and 1818 departures. Additionally, First Greater Manchester will be taking over its evening journeys from Stagecoach Manchester.

Amidst the backdrop of service cuts and operator revisions is a bit of good news for Nexus Move’s 356 route. Its two hourly Sunday, evening and Bank Holiday journeys will operate along the full route via most of the Saddleworth villages. All the way from Oldham to Ashton-under-Lyne via Denshaw, Dobcross, Diggle, Uppermill and Greenfield.

Where next?

The biggest story from this set of changes is the loss of two iconic bus routes. Especially the 408, where regular service changes have made it The Trigger’s Broom of Greater Manchester bus routes. Whereas much of the 435 remains intact via the R9 and R10, the same couldn’t be said of its SHMD/Oldham Corporation originated sister route.

Surely, there must be a case for the 408’s restoration in its pre-2014 form. Not so much along the route of its convoluted successors, more so its original link between Oldham and Stalybridge.

Like Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham town centre has had its fair share of changes to its retail landscape. There is more to come with plans to move Tommyfield Market to the Town Square Shopping Centre. Though this is great for the 84, 343, 350 and 356 routes, it is a bit of a walk to A Stand for an Ashton-bound 409 (unless Debenhams’ back entrance is reinstated in Spindles Shopping Centre). For passengers of the 76, 81, 425 and 426 routes, not too bad, being close to Rhode Island Coffee.

As we said in the Tameside and Glossop, one wonders what we’ll be about to receive in summer or autumn of this year. Thank goodness for the fact there isn’t six months of gas main related roadworks on Huddersfield Road.

S.V., 21 April 2022.

One thought on “Oldham and Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, 24 April 2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s