A little later than scheduled, part two looking at bus service changes taking place in Greater Manchester in November 2011. Up for consideration this time: tenders to replace emergency tenders in Rochdale; changes of operator in south Manchester; more frequency improvements on a Lancashire route; plus we say hello to a Saturday shopping service in Bolton, but goodbye to a couple of work services.
Following on from the end of The Coachmasters operating tendered services in August, TfGM has arranged some more permanent operators for tendered services from today, 7th November. Tyrer Bus take over evening operations on service 6 to Kirkholt from First, who themselves assume operation of Middleton services 12 and 125 from Stotts and Stagecoach respectively. Rossendalebus take over service 431 and 441 in Rochdale, although the routes are revised to operate to Belfield and Foxholes only, operated by a single vehicle. And later this month, from 21st November, Bluebird replace Haytons Travel on services 44, 194 and 196 in south Manchester: quite a reduction for Haytons but seeing Bluebird stretch their wings into the southern half roof the county.
In a delayed coda to the increased frequency on Transdev‘s Witch Way and Starship services at the end of last month, as of this week sister company Lancashire United’s 225 service between Bolton and Blackburn sees its Monday to Saturday daytime frequency increased from half-hourly to every 20 minutes. Nominally this service continues on towards Whalley and Clitheroe, but with the new timetable the route is effectively split into two separate parts running at different frequencies, with fewer through-journeys but connections available in Blackburn.
South Lancs Travel introduced a new hourly Saturday-only service X61 from Blackrod, Horwich and Westhoughton to the Trafford Centre, which should prove useful for Christmas shoppers. The company already operates bus services to the shopping centre from Bolton, Wigan and Leigh, so this latest service complements those routes. Will it last beyond Christmas? We will wait and see: the old adage “use it or lose it” applies. SLT was recently bought out by the north Midlands bus company D&G Bus and serial bus entrepreneur Julian Peddle. We understand that SLT will also have a closer working relationship with St. Helens-based Strawberry, but we await confirmation over just what form that will take – shared depot facilities and a possible route swap are rumoured.
Meanwhile, here’s a bus service you won’t be able to count on any longer: the special bus for census data counters introduced by Stagecoach in February, service 251 from Manchester to Trafford Park, is withdrawn from 27th November: presumably not enough passengers to remain commercially viable now that the census is done and dusted with. The rather erratic X1 service, operated by Manchester Community Transport and based on Heywood Distribution Park, is also replaced from 24th November, subsumed into the Heywood Local Link demand responsive scheme.
[Image credit: “South Lancs Travel/Green Triangle Buses, Scania N230UD4 Optare Olympus (D10 SLT)” by Buses in West Yorkshire on Flickr]