How the 130 service level will look from January 2013

The 130 bus service is one that I use regularly to get to and from work so I have a vested interest in seeing how its timetable will look next month. The latest round of bus subsidy cuts have taken their toll and only the Sunday service seems to have escaped. However, if there are any more funding reductions, it too could end up on Cheshire East Council’s cross-hairs. The same cannot be said for the rest of the week.

Today however, Arriva have registered changes to come into force for the end of next month and these have appeared on Cheshire East Council’s website. In their own way, they are quite extensive with lots of little reductions to come. The timetable has yet to become available but this is a flavour of what the changes are.

Monday to Friday services only see one change in the last departure from Macclesfield at 18:10 will terminate at East Didsbury instead of going all of the way into Manchester as it does now. This makes it like the 17:40 and means that the last two journeys of the day from Macclesfield are similarly curtailed so the more regular services offered by Stagecoach will be needed to continue further.

It is the Saturday services that see the bigger changes with the current 06:45 and 07:45 journeys from Macclesfield starting from East Didsbury instead. Also, the seemingly useful 18:35 departure is set to get axed too. Is this possibly another casualty of the abolition of the evening journeys between Macclesfield and East Didsbury? After all, it is unlikely that you will leave Macclesfield for a night out by bus if you cannot make it back in the same way. The last Saturday change is confusingly described but my take is that any journey currently starting from Brunswick Street in Manchester will start from East Didsbury instead.

Such is the extent of the change made by Arriva and D&G’s service withdrawal that a summary is in order. So, here are a few tables with service start and end times to show how savage the service cuts will be. Sunday evening services amazingly persist and show what has been lost for the other days, partially saving me the need to show how things are at the moment. Hopefully, they’ll save folk from getting caught out.

Towards Manchester Piccadilly Gardens (M) or East Didsbury (ED)

Place First Service Last Service
Monday to Friday Saturday Sunday Monday to Friday Saturday Sunday
Macclesfield 06:10 08:45 09:05 17:10 (M)
18:10 (ED)
17:35 22:00
Wilmslow 06:28 09:19 09:35 17:59 (M)
18:50 (ED)
18:09 22:29

From Manchester Piccadilly Gardens (M), Brunswick Street (B) or East Didsbury (ED)

Place First Service Last Service
Monday to Friday Saturday Sunday Monday to Friday Saturday Sunday
Macclesfield 06:03 07:21 (ED)
07:33 (M)
08:34 (B)
09:29 (M)
17:28 17:28 20:29
Wilmslow As above As above As above 18:04 18:18 22:29

Last buses from Wilmslow to Macclesfield

Monday to Friday Saturday Sunday
18:40 18.32 21:23

Seeing all of the reductions leaves me wondering if we need to rethink the operation of the 130 to make it more sustainable. Splitting it has been a suggestion that cropped up in a comment on a previous post. After all, train services between Macclesfield and Manchester are such that buses over the equivalent road route are less attractive and the same has to be said for Wilmslow too. The merit of buses is that they connect intermediate points and those connections suffer whenever services are withdrawn to the extent that we are about to witness next month.

One thing that strikes me about bus services that have escaped unscathed such as the 200 between Wilmslow and Manchester Airport (now operated by GHA) is that they don’t much in the way of buses and drivers. Being able to have just a single bus and driver at a time seems to be the best recipe for keeping a service by the lucks of things. That was the intention of the timings for the evening 130 services between Macclesfield and East Didsbury but I now reckon that the length of the route still may have been too long for it to truly work as it should.

Following on from the above, I am coming to think that the 130 should be split. The Cheshire portion would be between Macclesfield and Handforth since that would take less than an hour to go one way according to the current timetable. Having a local operator who would stick with the route would be beneficial too since the level of commitment from either Arriva or D&G has done nothing to inspire confidence.

Though it proved very useful when train services between Macclesfield and Manchester were blighted by engineering works around a decade ago, I now wonder if keeping the route as it is now is a luxury that we cannot afford. My suggestion would mean that a gap needed sorting on the Greater Manchester end and it would be interesting to hear how that would look. Anything has to be better than a declining service level and apparently uncommitted operators.

2 thoughts on “How the 130 service level will look from January 2013

  1. I think it may have been my comment about splitting and probably bears repeating here – my concept would be to split into two sections: Macclesfield to Handsforth, but from there extending to Manchester Airport, which could be operated by Arriva Macclesfield or an independent; and Manchester to Alderley Edge, which could be operated by Arriva Wythenshawe or possibly Stagecoach. If both were half-hourly frequency, then they could provide an improved 15-minute frequency between Alderley Edge, Wilmslow and Handsforth, new bus links to the airport from Cheshire and a 15-minute connection between the two halfs in Wilmslow. If Stagecoach operated the Manchester end then that would complement their X57 and could run limited stop along Kingsway to provide a faster service alongside the 50.

    • James, when I saw that original comment I was left unsure of the need to alter things. Now, I think the service probably is based on a broken model so your suggestions are well worth considering. If they gave us a more cost-effective way of having a better service, then the 130 should give way to them.

      The airport extension is one that crossed my mind too, especially because of the bus travel connections that it offers. Thus, even if the other suggestions never came into existence, that would be there anyway and the current 200 service could be discontinued to release some money to be used elsewhere and I can see quite a few places where that could go. However, I can see some disagreeing with the idea.

      The idea of the Greater Manchester section running express would be another way of encouraging folk to use the service, especially if journey times were sufficiently shorter (I have wondered what would happen if we had an express coach service between Manchester and Macclesfield with stops only in Wilmslow and East Didsbury to shortened the travel time as much as possible; the price of train travel might make it attractive if the fares were noticeably lower and journey times perhaps of the order of 45 minutes). However, I am unsure about the need for an overlap to be as large as you suggested because I don’t know if there is the demand for a four-per-hour frequency between Alderley Edge and Handforth. It still sounds interesting and the fifteen minute connection time would have a use anyway.

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