New operator for Stockport Metroshuttle and other bus service changes in March

A low floor Optare Solo minibus operating for PrestonBusOne Monday morning at the end of January as I looked out the window on the train to work, I glimpsed a strange coloured minibus parked at the rear of Stagecoach’s depot on Hyde Road. My interest was piqued: after all, the livery it was wearing (example pictured) was that of a company that Stagecoach was meant to have sold a few days earlier, namely PrestonBus. What was it doing there? I left a report on a local bus mailing list and thought little more of it.

All appears to have been explained by the news that Stagecoach are to take over operation of service 300 in Stockport town centre, better known as the Stockport Metroshuttle – and we understand that three former PrestonBus minibuses will operate it. As with its Manchester and Bolton cousins, this free bus service operates as a contracted service, with support from GMPTE and the local council. Originally operated by SK Solutions, the arms-length outsourcing firm owned by Stockport Council, the contract changed hands to Swans Travel in June last year, and then again in October when Bluebird took over at what appeared to be short notice but using the same vehicles. Stagecoach will operate from this Saturday to the existing timetable – which seems fitting given that they used to run the service when it was naught but a Saturday-xmas-shoppers-only glint in the transport planners’ eye.

In other service changes this weekend, Stagecoach will revise the Sunday and public holiday timetable on service 84 between Manchester and West Didsbury. Arriva are tinkering with many of their Manchester and Bolton services in what we suspect are attempts to improve punctuality – double-check your timetable if they run your service. Service 515 between Bolton and Ladybridge is withdrawn by Arriva, but South Lancs Travel introduce a replacement service at the same frequency albeit running at different times.

The Coachmasters introduce a new 15-minute Monday to Saturday frequency on service 471 between Rochdale and Heywood. This will be in competition with First’s 10-minute frequency service that continues beyond Heywood as far as Bury and Bolton. But while First sees increased competition on one route, there’ll be less on another as Speedwellbus withdraw service S48 between Ashton and Carrbrook from 20th March. Bu-Val will also officially withdraw their Saturday xmas shopping services in Rochdale from this weekend, services 448 and 449.

There are a few more timetable alterations to come at the beginning of April, and a large swathe of bus services will change at the beginning of May. We’ll blog about these a little closer to the date. As ever, the GMPTE latest bus service changes page is a great resource for all bus users.

[Image credit: “Preston Bus 56 PE51YHL” by Ian Roberts on Flickr]

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About James McCollom

Web geek and public transport user
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21 Responses to New operator for Stockport Metroshuttle and other bus service changes in March

  1. Rob says:

    Arriva love to tinker with their bus times! I see the frequency of their 263 goes from every 10 minutes to every 12.

    Can we make predictions for May? I see from VOSA registrations and cancellations, Arriva’s buses on the 15 Flixton to Manchester have been withdrawn, with Stagecoach registering alterations, so I wonder if Stagecoach will provide a full service on that route.

    JPT have posted that there will be lots of new services soon. They have so far registered the following routes 159, 256, 164 & 88 running (with the exception of 159) daily except Xmas Day, Boxing Day & New Years Day. I wonder whether these are positioning journeys, or full services? I suspect Stagecoach’s 258 is being renumbered as x58 (as it appears on VOSA from 1st May, unless they’ve made a typo).

  2. Watcherzero says:

    Whats going on with South Lancs? was thumbing through the http://www.gmita.gov.uk/download/3372/item_12_forthcoming_changes_to_the_bus_network and noticed there name popping up rather a lot.

    • James McCollom says:

      Seems like they’re introducing some semi-commercial services on Sundays which will duplicate (and thus replace) tendered services. Possibly related to the latest batch of tenders, also due in May? I tried a skim-read earlier this week but my Wigan geography isn’t all it could be – will be re-reading more thoroughly closer to the change date once plans have been firmed up.

  3. Fedupbus user says:

    Bluebird took over the 300 after Swans decided to pull off all there GMPTE contracts as they were unhappy with the way they recieved there reinbursmants, i belive it was an ‘inhouse’ that Bluebird would take over the 300 and also the 159 and also the vehicles used.

    As for the Speedwell and the S48, im sure it wont be missed. Since de-registering the service its become a joke, most of the the trips dont run and people are left waiting. I do wonder how much longer this operator has left on the road given there very poor time keeping and even poorer maintained vehicles.

    • robert says:

      Fedupbususer: You might be surprisedto know that Speedwell’s on time performance – as measured by GMPTE – is consistently above 95%. You can check this information, it’s in the public domain.

      • FedUpBusUser says:

        Robert, as an avid Speedwell user i would agree that up to Christmas there services were fine, however since the start of this year the performance and quality of ALL there Tameside services have become a joke.
        Broke down buses, extremely early or very very late, or better still they dont turn up at all.
        Hey and if you dont belive me check out there Facebook page.
        Since the S48 was de-registered trips have been dropped every day, infact im pretty sure there only running two buses an hour instead of 3.
        The 239 is another that goes up the wall every day. Friday morning saw no service for 2 hours due to a ‘breakdown’. Im sorry but its a joke.

      • Rob says:

        Having been to Ashton today, the two Speedwell buses I saw all looked very scruffy, which is a shame because a few months ago their fleet looked very well kept.

    • Michael Tinker says:

      now it looks like the S50 has gone it was meant to be June 15th but they where not running yestaday

  4. Shaun says:

    South Lancs Travel do seem to be re-registering services that were previously tendered and with some of Wigan services, split the cross-town routes into two different services, bit like Rossendalebus did with their Bury services

    Changes on GMITA listed for SLT are:
    *516 – Sunday daytime service introduced replacing 615. Evening journeys may terminate at Atherton instead of Leigh
    *581/592 – some early morning/late afternoon journeys withdrawn
    *593 registered Sunday daytime and Friday/Saturday night in addition to First’s evening/Sunday service
    *624 running between Wigan and Bottling Wood with Saturday service running hourly
    *630 between Wigan and Orrell renumbered 633
    *635 Sunday daytime and Friday/Saturday night service introduced, with Sunday journeys replacing 611/612.
    *640/641 re-registered commercial weekday journeys. No Saturday journeys
    *664/674 Wigan-Belle Green renumbered 634. Saturday service running hourly
    Also looks like that they may be introducing a faster Bolton-Middlebrook service 574, presuambly via Chorley Old Road instead of via Ladybridge.

    As with JPT, I would guess that they might be taking over tenders for services, like they did with the 217/218, 245 and 370 at the end of last year. First have registered timetable changes for the 88/89 and 64 (which is listed as going to Heywood) and Stagecoach have the timetable change with the X58, as mentioned. Although JPT have talked about running a 88/89 service, following requests from people on their Facebook page, so maybe they’re taking First on another route.

    Stagecoach have registered a Sunday service for the 99, so assuming they’ll be taking over that from Arriva. There’s also a cancellation for the 46 plus Route and timetable changes for the 84 and 168/169. Perhaps this may tie in with the 46/47, such as extending the 169 to Chorlton or the 84 to Wilmslow Road to connect with the 43/143

    Other changes listed in the GMITA document: Maytree Travel will be extending the 553 to Leigh via the Infirmary and the 559 to Aspull, Arriva extending the Sunday dayime 575 service to Wigan, replacing the 615.

    Other changes listed on VOSA is The Coachmasters taking over the 125 in Middleton, Arriva cancelling the 536 and 622.

    Something also to look out for in the summer mentioned in the GMITA document as they’ve suggested to withdraw the 56 service and 58 journeys to/from Bury in July, along with 432 in Rochdale.

  5. FedUpBusUser says:

    Rob Speedwell were using one of there scruffy Vario’s on the S48 today, it had no destiantion blind and no ‘S’ on the number blind so was running as 48 to nowhere.

    I would agree, the buses did look very smart, the Marhsall Darts inperticular but everything is in a bad state, even the enviros have had some panels changed and they haven’t even bother painting them to match.

    Someone summed things up on there Facebook page a few months ago, there has been very little investment in recent months, buses have been sold [Varios and Excels] and they haven’t been replaced which has left the fleet short, so now when ne bus brakes down in service it effects there whole operation.
    I hope they pull there act together and sort things out, but they have become so obsessed with fighting with First that they have failed to realise that there loosing money not making it!

  6. Rob says:

    Speedwell’s Marshall Darts were the first buses I encountered on the S50 when it began. They were spotless, nice to ride on, a great improvement on the 350 buses which looked drab in comparison. I haven’t seen them lately but haven’t been in the area much. I saw a sad looking Vario today on the route to Glossop, didn’t realise they had been put onto the ‘S’ routes.

    I see that on both Speedwellbus & SpeedwellValue, there’s no mention of the demise of the S49 next weekend, which is a shame. I was on an S50 on Tuesday (which I have to say was the only well turned out Speedwellbus I’ve seen) there was no notice in it.

    Separately, I think the company needs to improve it’s logo!

    • FedUpBusUser says:

      Interesting comments Rob,
      The S49 isn’t finishing till April i belive, its the S48 that finishes next week, Speedwell probably assume its common knowalge.
      The Marshalls now look very shabby, as do the two Plaxton Darts. Im guessing you travelled on one of the Enviro’s or the Caetano Dart, which are slightly smarter, but as i belive these arn’t owned by Speedwell, there only leased.

      I like the Speedwell logo, its simple but effective and much better than the original Speedwell Private Hire logo. I also think the simple green/white livery suits the buses well, when its not peeling off that is.

      • Rob says:

        Sorry, I meant S48, not S49. Didn’t know the S49 was finishing, but I now see on VOSA, it ends 3rd April (they have it listed erroneously as 549!) I do think a notice of changes a couple of weeks in advance online and in the vehicles is good form.

    • Michael Tinker says:

      there are still S49 numbers on the bus stops up Oldham road

      the S50 has gone down hill so much I went back to the 350s about 4 weeks back

      on the S50 there was one driver who use to leave Ashton bus stn 3 mins early and once drove straight past bus stop when I wanted to board well the service now seems to have gone

  7. Watcherzero says:

    This page has appeared on the GMPTE website today, an interactive guide to concessionary fares:
    http://www.gmpte.com/journey_planning/tickets_concessionary.cfm

    Of note it says special discounts for Yellow Bus services will be announced shortly, says you will have to show your IGO to get the half fare (presumably operator child fare applies if you dont which may/may not be higher), it also says the fare for dedicated school bus services will be £1 ‘short journey’, £1.20 ‘medium’ and £1.40 ‘Long’.

  8. FedUpBusUser says:

    Well you would think so Rob yes, but like i say they dont care anymore.
    Its become clear that since the S48 and S49 were de-registered there only running them becuase they have to.
    Once again today, S49/S50 were running but no sign of the S48.

  9. Shaun says:

    The former PrestonBus buses are operating on the Stockport Metroshuttle. You can tell as the passenger notice stickers inside the bus have the PB logo

  10. Danny With says:

    I think these cuts with TfGM are going further than first anticipated. I recently sent an email to South Lancs travel regarding bus 630, which is due to be part renumbered in May. Apparently TfGM are withdrawing funding for the service, and as a result most busses will only run as far as Windy Arbour and there’ll be no busses on Saturday’s

    • Paul Sidorczuk says:

      Can I refer you to another blog on this website where James McCollom spoke about service changes due in early April, with the possible implications of the intentions of bus operators once subsidies reach the new recast levels, in which he used the word “FAREMEGGADON”, which says it all!

  11. Pingback: Speedwellbus suspends service to Mossley | Manchester Transport

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