Autumn bus service changes 2011, part 1

With damp pavements, winter coats and dark evenings, the autumn is most definitely arrived. Changes to bus services at the end of October are not too widespread but with some interesting trends: First winning more tenders; Arriva losing out and trimming in Wigan, Bolton and Trafford; Transdev and Stagecoach making improvements to some of their high-profile routes. Read on for a round-up: changes are from the weekend of the 30th October 2011.

Following on from the closure of Arriva’s Skelmersdale depot in July this year, several evening contracts in Wigan have been operated from St. Helens depot. This inefficient arrangement comes to an end, with First taking over operation of Monday to Saturday evening journeys on services 621/625/626/628 to Beech Hill and Kitt Green, routes they already run during the daytime. The 375 Wigan to Southport service moved to Arriva’s Southport depot from Skelmersdale. Now that the new arrangements have had time to bed-in, the timetable is to lose the 1910 from Southport and 2040 return journey from Wigan: alternative departures are 30 minutes either side. Bucking the trend is an increased frequency on route 362 between Wigan and Chorley (operated by St. Helens depot), now running half-hourly on Sunday daytimes.

Arriva’s Bolton depot are also trimming their timetables outside peak hours, with the result that TfGM have had to step in with some emergency contracts to ensure services keep running. As things stand, the 537 to Edgworth loses an early morning return journey, whilst the 576 and 715 to Wigan will lose some evening journeys. First will operate Monday to Saturday evening journeys on service 575 between Bolton and Horwich on a three-month tender for TfGM. This route’s an interesting case where both Arriva and First operate in competition, although Arriva continue their daytime journeys through to Wigan via Aspull. (Perhaps we’ll blog about it at some point!)

Back in Wigan, Stagecoach North West (or the rather-unwieldy Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire as we should now be calling them) makes way on evening and Sunday tenders on the 113 between Wigan and Preston. First takes over almost all Sunday journeys that operate as far as Wrightington Hospital (as well as introducing services on Bank Holidays) whilst a new operator to Greater Manchester appears on Monday to Saturday evening journeys – PrestonBus, the former municipal and employee-owned bus company, fought bought and divested by Stagecoach, and now in the hands of Rotala PLC.

Down in Trafford, Altrincham in particular, Arriva has lost TfGM contracts to some of the smaller players. Daytime journeys on services 13 and 286 (to Oldfield Brow and Halebarns respectively) are replaced by a new cross-town service 14 operated by Go Goodwins, with remaining evening and Sunday departures on the 13 to be operated by Go Goodwins and M Travel. M Travel also gain evening and Sunday journeys on service 20, along with the complete 246 service to Bowdon Vale. Wythenshawe depot has some consolation: a recently-delivered batch of new 61-reg single deckers (as pictured above) allowing older vehicles to be transferred elsewhere.

Transdev busOver in the Irwell Valley, Transdev are shaking up their services a little. The X43 “Witch Way” express from Manchester to Burnley increases in frequency on Monday to Saturday daytimes to every 15 minutes, but will only continue to Nelson every 30 minutes: currently all services run to Nelson on a 20-minute frequency. The X44 journeys that divert via Edenfield will be withdrawn, but in their place comes a new 8 and X8 “Starship” service. The existing hourly route 8 between Burnley and Bacup will be extended to Rawtenstall, with off-peak journeys continuing via the M66 direct to Bury. Peak-hour service X8 will operate via Edenfield and Shuttleworth then fast to Manchester Shudehill, calling at Heaton Park, Bowker Vale and Urbis only. Two interesting developments which may or may not be related: First are extending their service X35 Manchester to Stubbins peak-hour express service to start at Edenfield at the same time, whilst Rossendalebus are introducing a new Tango ticket for two people travelling together.

Big news from Stagecoach Manchester is that the X50 express service to the Trafford Centre is to double in frequency from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes. Part of that extra capacity may interest BBC workers, as the route is amended to stop at the Imperial War Museum, only a short walk over the new pedestrian bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal to MediaCityUK. The slower, parallel service 250 gains a couple of extra journeys into Manchester during the morning peak. East of the M60 has a rundown of other changes in Tameside.

You can find a full list of the latest bus service changes on the TfGM website. Some further changes are planned to take place in early November – we’ll blog about separately.

[Image credit: “Arriva Manchester 3093 MX61AUW” by Minispotter and “DSCN3567” by Clive A Brown on Flickr]

About James McCollom

Web geek and public transport user
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10 Responses to Autumn bus service changes 2011, part 1

  1. Shaun says:

    I know the X35 was a late change to appear on the TfGM website, so perhaps it is trying to attract commuters away from Transdev and onto First for journeys to/from Manchester. Also, looking at the timetable on the Traveline NW Journey Planner, it did look like that Transdev’s original plan was to send the X8 to terminate at Piccadilly Gardens and start from Stevenson Square (a bit like the X35 does). The timetable can still be seen on the Traveline website.

    Could also argue that Transdev are trying to get some of Rossendalebus’s customers on the Burnley-Bury route, with a slightly faster route than the 483.

    One change not mentioned on the TfGM website is First re-timing the 184 journeys to Huddersfield at afternoon rush-hour, in order to allow First West Yorkshire more recovery time in Manchester, so they can run closer to on-time back to Huddersfield (similar arrangement to the morning peak-time journeys). They will leave at 4.40pm and 5.40pm (10 mins later) with First Manchester re-timing their 4.40pm and 5.40pm journeys to Uppermill to run at 4.30pm and 5.30pm. Probably will be a case that the 4.30pm and 5.30pm departures from Manchester will arrive out of service or as a short-running from Oldham, while the the 180 arrivals at 4.35pm and 5.35pm will leave Manchester as the X84 at 4.42pm and 5.42pm.

  2. Rob says:

    I’m glad to read about Go Goodwins continuing successes – they are an excellent company, with high standards of vehicle presentation, and helpful drivers. Arriva’s network in south Manchester has contracted by a considerable rate over recent years, with both First, Stagecoach and independents overtaking them.

    One further change is a new Saturday only route from Blackrod to The Trafford Centre, the X61 run by South Lancs Travel. Separately, SLT were recently bought by D&G Bus.

  3. Rob says:

    Ooops, appologies for jumping the gun! Looking forward to part 2 though!

  4. Shaun says:

    Wonder what’s the reasoning by Arriva losing all these tenders over the last few years. Is it that they’re not going from them or they’re being beaten by cheaper quotes from other operators?

    The services they’ve lost or about to lose are (may have missed some off): 13, 15 (evening), 16 (evening/Sunday), 20 (evening/Sunday), 99, 177/178 (although that may have been on emergency tender), 245 (Sunday), 246, 252, 255 (evening), 260, 261, 262, 266, 267, 285-288, 297, 370 (Sundays), 371 (evening/Sunday), 380, 381, 386, 534 (evening/Sunday), 576, 621/625/626/628 (Monday-Saturday evenings) and 715 (evening/Sunday). Plus scrapping the Monday-Saturday evening service on the 130, which was gained by BakerBus under Cheshire CC contract.

    Didn’t know that South Lancs Travel had been taken over. No mention on their website about it, only on the D&G Bus website, who say that don’t plan to make any changes yet until ‘they get to know the business’. Wonder if they’ll keep the South Lancs Travel name or eventually bring them under D&G.

    The early November changes are listed, but I won’t say anything about that until the new post 🙂

    • Shaun says:

      The X35 extension has been confirmed by Lancashire County Council as being a partial replacement to the X44 being withdrawn. There is also a local campaign to try and get either the X44 re-instated or the X35 extended to Rawtenstall for people in between Rawtenstall and Edenfield, who don’t want to catch two buses and changing at Rawtenstall for the X43 (or even change at Bury for the 135). If the X35 is extended further, then it would resurrect First Manchester’s link to Rawtenstall from when the 90 ran.

      • Trystan says:

        That would be fab if they would extend to Rawtenstall. I remember when the 90 went to Accrington for a while and used to enjoy a long ride from Cannon Street to Accy and back. All for the grand price of £2.70 as well *sigh*

  5. Pingback: Arriva regroups as First makes further tender gains | Manchester Transport blog

  6. Pingback: Withdrawals and competition in the north of the county | Manchester Transport blog

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