Update 2012-12-18: Having noticed that this post still is being visited by folk, I am left wondering if they are seeking information on what’s happening to the service in January 2013. If that’s the case, there’s another post that describes those details and is far more up to date than this one.
As someone who lives in Macclesfield yet works in Wilmslow, I am a regular user of Arriva’s 130 bus service. Therefore, it was of interest to me that new paper timetables were available in one of their buses one morning this week. At the time of writing, the new timetable doesn’t seem to have made it online yet. Therefore, it might be of interest to relate some of the main changes on here.
One of the more striking ones is the shortening of the 19:12 Monday-Friday journey from Manchester. This may be just one change among many but it does take away a journey option from bus users. In light of that, it wasn’t so good to hear a bus driver admitting to another passenger that it was his idea and very few used it anyway; ironically, there were 8 folk travelling to Macclesfield that evening! While he went on about profit or the lack of it, I do wonder if someone fancied a shorter day anyway. Maybe that isn’t the case but I don’t know Arriva’s Manchester rosters so I cannot be certain. However, I was the only passenger on the 19:12 of another night so I could see where that driver was coming from though it might have been better to have heard the talk about profitability tempered by a sense of public service, really.
After that spot of overhearing, an interesting idea crept into my mind: how about only extending a late evening service to Macclesfield from Wilmslow or Alderley Edge when there are passengers who need it. It is something that I have seen Shiel Buses do in Scotland and it might curb all that travelling with empty buses on the 19:12 while not stranding passengers who happen to work a little later until the council-supported 20:40 Bakerbus from Parr’s Wood turns up to collect them. Another case where this could have a use is for the 22:29 from Manchester of a Sunday. If passengers on the bus were to need to get to Macclesfield or others at Wilmslow wish to do so, then the bus would continue to go all the way. Otherwise, it would turn around and return to its depot. All in all, it might make an interesting accommodation that lies part way between having a service running unnecessarily and not having it at all.
With that forthcoming route shortening in mind, it might be an idea to look at railway alternatives to bus travel in the event of their being needed. After all, there have been times when the A34 has hit gridlock for one reason or another and it does make sense not to embark on a 2 hour journey home if it can be avoided. Then, there’s avoiding a wait in the cold when a bus does fail to pass the way. While it does look circuitous to go to Cheadle Hulme or Stockport to get from Wilmslow to Macclesfield, it can be quicker than a bus journey and there are tickets available for this too. However, these aren’t so cheap at £6.80 for a single though using cheap evening return tickets can cut the cost to £4.90 (£2.00 for Wilmslow-Stockport, £2.90 for Stockport-Macclesfield). In summary, it can be said that train travel is a more expensive alternative to the 130 though it does have its place as a very reassuring fallback.
Moving away from that disappointing curtailment, there seem to be timing changes all over the place to Arriva’s Monday-Friday services though the evening ones operated by Bakerbus under contract to Cheshire East Council will remain the same. There simply are too many to list here and you have to ask why. One stimulus might be the completion of the Nether Alderley bypass (the works around Monk’s Heath aren’t quite finished yet though they seem to have little impact on traffic whenever I am passing) though monetary pressures must be acting too. Nevrtheless, Saturday and Sundays seem to stay untouch so that’s one less thing to check. So, here’s a scanned copy of the paper timetable for your consultation because the new times certainly will affect when I travel to and from work.
Arriva 130 Timetable (valid from 2011-03-13): Macclesfield-Manchester (File Size: ca. 2 MB).
When you seeing timings like these and go comparing inbound and outbound journeys from termini, you do get to wondering about the dwell time between buses arriving and departing. Of course, that brings up questions about what happens to outbound services when the inbound ones get delayed. If this brings slippage from the current punctuality enjoyed before 09:00 on weekday mornings, then the online bus tracker will become even more useful than it already is and there may be reasons to go telling Arriva what is happening too. In the past, that has been known to have its effect so I hope that will be one change that we never come to see.