2012, In the Company of Buses

East of the M60’s review of the year from a public transport angle

First Greater Manchester Enviro400, SN12 AOF, near Rochdale bus station
East of the M60’s Bus of the Year: one of First Greater Manchester’s Enviro400s seen in Rochdale, hitherto seen in London on Olympic duties.

2012 was a most eventful year for bus, rail and tram users throughout Greater Manchester and the High Peak. It ended with a Metrolink extension, began with the demise of a local bus company, and somewhere in between, there was a handful of new liveries. In Lancashire, it began with the demise of a well known bus route, and ended with the possible demolition of Preston’s iconic bus station. Continue reading “2012, In the Company of Buses”

Great Olympians of our Time #10: SpeedwellBus’ G501 SFT

Probably the last Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympian to have seen regular service in Tameside and Glossop?

Leyland Olympian, G501 SFT, Northern Counties body, SpeedwellBus, Ashton-under-Lyne
Swansong: G501 SFT taking a rest on the lay-by outside Ashton bus station.

Yesterday’s entry focused on an Olympian hitherto operated by the defunct UK North, now in the care of Stott’s of Oldham. Today’s picture is G501 SFT, a former Arriva owned Olympian purchased by another defunct operator. This also explains the link between UK North, SpeedwellBus and Stott’s of Oldham – yesterday’s ex-UK North vehicle and the 343 route – both owned and operated by the latter.

G501 SFT was quite a comfortable vehicle and offered a superior ride to some of the more modern vehicles. I had the joy of boarding her once to Flowery Field railway station and made a point of sitting upstairs on the five minute journey from Chez Vall. She was new to Kentish Bus in 1990 as seen below in her original livery:

Kentish Bus 501 (G501 SFT)
G501 SFT seen in her original livery in November 1990. Photograph by Ian Kirby (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial-NoDerivs License).

After working for Kentish Bus, she moved to London and Country. It was through there she later became part of Arriva’s fleet, hitherto via Drawlane, British Bus and Cowie. She was a regular performer around Crawley and East Grinstead before moving north and seeing continued service for Arriva North West.

By 2010, she joined SpeedwellBus, offering extra capacity on schools services. She was sometimes seen on regular services such as the 343 and the 396. On the 18 January 2012, when SpeedwellBus ceased trading, her last destination was Wigley’s Scrapyard in Barnsley. A sad end to a fine vehicle.

S.V., 05 August 2012.

Tameside Bus Service Changes, Spring 2012: A Very High Peak Practice

Changes to former SpeedwellBus services and electric hybrids the order of the day

Volvo Olympian R365 DJN, Stotts of Oldham, Mossley Market Place
Prior to the middle of this April, Stott's of Oldham's only presence in Mossley have been on school services and the 353/354 routes. From then on, their low floor buses (one third smaller and tidier than this double decker above), seen on the 41 route will be a regular feature of the 343 route on weekdays.

Spring 2012’s raft of changes [16 April 2012] will be the first ones to take effect after the Coalition Government’s cut in the Bus Service Operators’ Grant. At the moment, nothing too catastrophic (yet) in the way of service cuts have reached Tameside. Operator changes and the introduction of electric hybrid buses set the agenda. Continue reading “Tameside Bus Service Changes, Spring 2012: A Very High Peak Practice”

Operator Revisions on Former SpeedwellBus Services

Replacement operators for former SpeedwellBus services

Dennis Dart SLF, SpeedwellBus, VU02 TTZ, Ashton-under-Lyne Bus Station
In happier times: SpeedwellBus Dennis Dart SLF VU02 TTZ laying over at Ashton-under-Lyne bus station.

Regrettably, East of the M60 announced the demise of SpeedwellBus over the last two days. The last week has been populated with rumours as to whom their routes would be taken over by, with reports of Stott’s taking on the 343 or Stagecoach Manchester running the 202.

Over the last 2 days, the new arrangements have been confirmed and are as follows:

  • 202  (Hyde – Hattersley – Glossop): all journeys operated by Stagecoach Manchester;
  • 341 (Hyde – Backbower – Hattersley – Charlesworth – Glossop): all journeys operated by Stott’s of Oldham;
  • 343 (Hyde – Mossley – Oldham): weekday daytime journeys operated by Stagecoach Manchester with slight retimings to SpeedwellBus’ timetable: JPT Travel and First Pioneer journeys remain unaffected;
  • 394 (Stepping Hill – Charlesworth – Glossop): all journeys operated by Centrebus;
  • 395 (Ashton-under-Lyne – Limehurst Farm): all journeys operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach;
  • 396 (Ashton-under-Lyne – Newton Heath): all journeys operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach.

All details may be subject to change with most services operating to the timetable inherited from SpeedwellBus. If anyone can fill me in on the 188, 342 and 344 routes, please comment in the usual fashion. Feel free to discuss vehicle allocations and changes to the timetable.

Postscript: 1. Service Updates, weekdays and Saturdays from 23 January 2012:

This supersedes all previous information:

  • 188 (Manchester [Piccadilly Gardens] – Ryder Brow): Friday and Saturday journeys are operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach. This does not affect the separate Manchester [Shudehill Interchange] – Chadderton route (confusingly also operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach and sharing the same number);
  • 202  (Hyde – Hattersley – Glossop): full service operated by Stagecoach Manchester apart from three journeys during peak hours;
  • 341 (Hyde – Backbower – Hattersley – Charlesworth – Glossop): all journeys operated by Stott’s of Oldham;
  • 342/344 (Hyde – Backbower Circular): all journeys operated by Stott’s of Oldham;
  • 343 (Hyde – Mossley – Oldham): weekday journeys operated by Stagecoach Manchester: JPT Travel [Saturday] and First Pioneer [evenings and all day Sunday] journeys remain unaffected. All timetables and routes remain unchanged;
  • 394 (Stepping Hill – Charlesworth – Glossop): all journeys operated by Centrebus;
  • 395 (Ashton-under-Lyne – Limehurst Farm): all journeys operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach;
  • 396 (Ashton-under-Lyne – Newton Heath): all journeys operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach.

Please note that the 341, 342, 344, and 394 – 396 route have no Sunday service and evening journeys. (Updated from 20 January 2012)

Postscript: 2. Update on StuartVallantine.co.uk (or shameless plug):

The History of the 343‘ article has since been updated to reflect latest developments affecting the route.

Postscript 3: Manchester Evening News article:

Transport bosses promise bus services will continue as Hyde-based Speedwell folds‘: M.E.N., 24 January 2012.

S.V., 19 January 2011.

2011: My Year in the Company of Buses

East of the M60’s review of the year

Dennis Dart SLF/Alexander ALX200, S480 BWC, Stagecoach in Manchester

2011 is one year which bus users and employees east of the M60 wouldn’t forget in a hurry. 25 years on from the start of bus deregulation, it was a tumultuous one dominated by changes to the concessionary fares system, service cuts in the High Peak and hybrid buses.

Continue reading “2011: My Year in the Company of Buses”

East of the M60 Advent Calendar: 12 December 2011

12. A Go-Ahead Group Brighton and Hove Scania N94UD OmniDekka

Scania N94UD OmniDekka, YN56 FFO Dame Anita Roddick

Brighton and Hove’s Scania OmniDekkas are a rare beast. This may look like a common and garden contemporary double decker as the devil in the detail is off camera. Most bus rear indicators only show the route number. Brighton and Hove’s vehicles have the full front indicator on the rear of the bus. This example is photographed outside the entrance of Eastbourne Pier.

Bus Route of Christmas Past: Flixton – Piccadilly. One of two 12s in central Manchester and Salford. Operated by Manchester Corporation, this service had a basic hourly frequency with extra peak hour journeys, though no Sunday morning journeys. Most of the 12 service is covered by today’s 256 route to Flixton operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

Bus Route of Christmas Present: Continuing with Stagecoach – and the seaside theme of the picture, our 12 is Stagecoach in Devon’s Newton Abbot – Torquay – Paignton – Brixham service. Popular all year round, the service boasts a 10 minute daytime frequency with an evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday service every 20 minutes. It is also the easiest way for approaching Torquay and Brixham town centres. The standard 12 route is also augmented by 12A and 12C services to Brixham and Torquay.

S.V., 12 December 2011

East of the M60 Advent Calendar: 05 December 2011

5. A Network Warrington Marshall bodied Dennis Dart

Network Warrington Marshall bodied Dart

The Marshall Capital bodied Dennis Dart has had its critics since the first examples hit our streets in 1998 – 99. Early operators of this single decker throughout Greater Manchester included Mayne of Manchester. They were a staple of the 171/172 (Newton Heath – Withington) routes and the evening 220 service from Stalybridge to Manchester. Stagecoach Manchester inherited them from Mayne in February 2008 with them seeing regular service on the 11 (Altrincham – Stockport) and the 7 (Ashton-under-Lyne – Droylsden – Reddish – Stockport) routes.

Today, the Marshall Capital bodied Dennis Darts remain a regular feature of Network Warrington’s operations (seen above on Stamford New Road, Altrincham). In Tameside, SpeedwellBus’ examples were recently seen on the 343 (Oldham – Mossley – Hyde) route.

Bus Route of Christmas Past: Droylsden – Ashton-under-Lyne – Smallshaw. Operated by Ashton-under-Lyne Corporation, this service had a basic hourly frequency with extra journeys (bringing the service to every half hour) on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Ashton’s 5 route is covered by today’s 393 (Ashton – Smallshaw), 168 and 169 (Ashton – Chorlton-cum-Hardy/Southern Cemetery) services, with three different operators (JPT Travel and Stagecoach Manchester on the 168/169, First Manchester on the 393).

Bus Route of Christmas Present: Network Warrington’s 5 route from Altrincham to Warrington. Running every half hour till 2000 hours, it takes in Dunham Massey and Lymm. There is no Sunday and Bank Holiday service (the 37A/38 offers that facility during the daytime, albeit at a modest hourly frequency).

S.V., 05 December 2011

East of the M60 Advent Calendar: 04 December 2011

4. A Sheffield Transport Roe bodied Daimler Fleetline

Sheffield Transport Daimler Fleetline

This handsome fellow was the last ever new bus to have been delivered to Sheffield Transport, prior to absorption into South Yorkshire PTE. Now lovingly restored, the entrance door is marked so passengers would have a choice of paying the driver, or using the self-service Videmat machine. The latter printed a facsimile image of coins tendered, though unscrupulous passengers paid with bottle tops and foreign coins.

Bus Route of Christmas Past: My most obvious move would have been the 4/4A which forms part of today’s 343 route. Ever one for defying the obvious, I have opted for Ashton Corporation’s Park Bridge – Ashton-under-Lyne service. The service started life as a twice weekly bus in 1956, for the sole purpose of linking Park Bridge with Ashton Market. The closure of the OA&GB Railway to passengers in 1960 saw the service upgraded with six return Saturday journeys. On weekdays, five on Mondays and Fridays, four on Wednesdays and Thursdays and three on Tuesdays.

Bus Route of Christmas Present: Connex Jersey’s 4 is a short north to south route from Bonne Nuit to Saint Helier. Taking 33 minutes to complete the journey, this service has eight return journeys on Mondays to Saturdays. There is no Sunday service; this is covered by the 27 which has four return journeys every two hours.

S.V., 04 December 2011

Two Tameside Bus Routes Among 50 of the UK’s Favourite Bus Journeys

343 and 350 routes listed in new book on scenic bus routes

Dennis Dart, First Pioneer

In the midst of the half term holidays, or during the forthcoming Christmas ones, you may wish to take a more scenic route between Ashton and Oldham, or Mossley and Oldham away from the crowds. In Mossley, you have the joys of getting to Oldham the quicker way via Lees, or the circuitous route via Saddleworth. Continue reading “Two Tameside Bus Routes Among 50 of the UK’s Favourite Bus Journeys”

Lost Bus Companies of Greater Manchester: 25 from 25 Years of Bus Deregulation

Or ‘The Lost Indies of Greater Manchester’

Dennis Dart, Plaxton SLF, T580 JTD, Bu-Val Buses, Rochdale bus station

Bus deregulation has divided its critics from industrial and passenger points of view. Where one critic claims it made for a more sustainable network, another one would see it as a total disaster, leading to lost patronage, rising fares and erratic timetable changes. I’m firmly placed in the latter camp favouring public ownership, but I shan’t bore you with the politics for the purpose of this post. Continue reading “Lost Bus Companies of Greater Manchester: 25 from 25 Years of Bus Deregulation”