Cheshire East Bus Service Changes: October 2014

All has felt rather quiet in the world of Cheshire East bus services in recent months. With the cuts that we have been seeing since 2011, that can be viewed as a good thing. There are times when no news can be good news and it has felt that bus services were in managed decline under the current government, which is how those thoughts developed in my mind.

However, we now have some good news for Knutsford too for service 27/27A/27B to and from Macclesfield is set to become hourly and service 88 to and from both Wilmslow and Altrincham is to become half-hourly in frequency. Also, the 88 service will call at Wilmslow’s train station too. While these are Monday to Saturday services with no Sunday operations, these are encouraging developments that I would like to see prospering and they come into place at the end of the month.

Improvements continue with Congleton’s town services being contracted to GHA after a turn with D&G on most of them and BakerBus having retained one from its original roster. If I remember correctly, D&G definitely was providing services on a commercial basis and I cannot speak for BakerBus. The  continuing route numbers will be 90, 91 and 92 with D&G’s 39 being dropped. The places being served include Bromley, Mossley and Buglawton. Service 42 from here to Crewe also transfers to GHA with that seeing improvements too. The extension to Crewe train station may be getting dropped but there is to be an hourly service over the whole route from Monday to Saturday so weekends see a doubling of the number of journeys starting and ending in Congleton compared to what it is now.

Some services around Crewe and Nantwich have been replaced. These include Nantwich town service 53 as well as routes 44 and 44M. Routes 6 and 6M are to be extended as far as Nantwich and Millfields with service of Rail House, Gresty Road reinstated using a new right hand turn from Nantwich Road. The latter also gets reinstated on GHA’s service 6E too. Macclesfield to Crewe service 38 gets extended as far as Nantwich on Sundays replace the current 45/45A service on that day of the week. D&G get a contract for that portion of the extended 38 too. As for the remainder of the week, service will stay as it is and service 45 and 45A will see some alterations.  Route 45 will serve Davenport Avenue in Nantwich with the last journey of the day reaching Beefeater, Marshfield Bank. The Saturday 08:12 service journey is to be replaced by a 07:50 one on service 45.

There are more Crewe-related contract wins for GHA too with the Sunday and bank holiday workings on Crewe town services 8 and 8A along with Monday to Saturday evening services commencing from Crewe bus station at 19:00, 20:00 and 2100 coming their way. Monday to Friday afternoon journeys on Crewe town service 9 have been awarded too to partially replace the withdrawn BakerBus service. Saturday journeys on service 78 between Nantwich and Scholar Green also are going here along with later Monday to Friday journeys that D&G will not operate on a commercial basis. GHA also are revising timetables for Nantwich circular services 51, 52 and 52A as well as that of service 39 between there and Crewe via Shavington and services 72 & 73 between Nantwich and Whitchurch now that the 75 contract has gone to Routemaster Buses.

The changes for D&G are not all losses though with their taking on service 32 from Sandbach to Crewe from BakerBus. There are to be four journeys each way on Saturdays and the first journey of the day towards Sandbach starting from Crewe train station and the last journey of the day from Sandbach terminating at the train station too from Monday to Friday. The current 16:45 journey from Sandbach is set to run at 16:35 too. Services 85 and 85B no longer will continue to Hanley though and will terminate at Newcastle instead.

Arriva continues its penchant for service trimming with its Crewe town service 6 losing its 06:50, 07:20, 10:50, 14:20, 17:30, 18:00, 18:30 journeys. Service of Rail House, Gresty Road get reinstated with new right hand turn from Nantwich Road. Its Crewe town service 8 also loses its 07:35, 10:05, 14:05, 17:35 and 18:05 journeys. Service 130 between Macclesfield and Manchester also sees a little trimming with the Monday to Friday 17:40 departure from Macclesfield being truncated at Wilmslow and the Saturday 18:18 departure from Manchester to Wilmslow getting withdrawn. It’s not all bad news though with route 37/37A/37E between Crewe, Sandbach and Winsford getting an improved Monday to Saturday evening service. Service 84 between Crewe and Chester also sees some timetable tweaks but I have yet to learn what those are.

Otherwise, Routemaster Buses has secured a council contract for the following Nantwich rural services:

  • Thursday and Saturday only service 56 between Tiverton to Nantwich
  • Monday to Saturday service 68 between Leighton Hospital, Church Minshull and Nantwich
  • Wednesday only service 75 between Nantwich – Market Drayton
  • Friday only service 79 between Audlem, Nantwich and Hanley
  • Tuesday only service 83 between Nantwich, Bunbury and Chester
  • Monday only service 89 between Nantwich and Wrexham

Of these, services 56, 75 and 83 are existing services while services 68, 79 and 89 are new ones. Route 83 is gaining a revised timetable too.

All in all, there are a lot of council contracts being let here and that makes me wonder where all of the money has originated and how long any such largesse might last given the predicted slowdown in economic growth. Nevertheless, having any glint of good news after what has felt like a sustained managed decline in bus services is a pleasant reprieve. Being of Irish extraction, all the spending on road resurfacing and other things by Cheshire East makes me wonder what has happened or whether it has anything to do with next year’s Westminster elections. Hopefully, we will not be back to brutal austerity after those but only time will tell.

16 thoughts on “Cheshire East Bus Service Changes: October 2014

  1. It’s not all good news in the world of Cheshire East bus travel, I am afraid. The cause is the forthcoming withdrawal of High Peak’s Monday to Friday service 39 between Macclesfield, Oakgrove, Buglawton and Congleton. This will happen at the end of November so anyone south of Macclesfield on the A523 will need to use service 109 between Macclesfield and Leek instead. Quite what Cheshire East Council is thinking on the prospects of any replacement are unknown to me at present and that will tell its own tale. Lack of patronage is the reason given by High Peak for their not sticking with the service on a route that was plied on a regular basis by BakerBus before them.

  2. The changes around the Knutsford area don’t involve any extra funding from Cheshire East council. The route 88 subsidy is lower than it was when Vale Travel took over the route 5 and a half years ago, despite inflation and an increased frequency. While the 27 route is commercial. Unfortunately, the route 27 enhancements don’t see a weekday arrival in Knutsford between 07:20 and 09:11 or a departure from Knutsford between 16:45 and 18:20, so the commuters who work in Knutsford ,which High Peak lost when they reduced the frequency on the 27 route, aren’t exactly going to return as a result of the new timetable. I see GHA have used some common sense and moved the first 27 bus to serve Queensway after 09:30, given it’s pretty much just a few pensioners who use the bus between Queensway and the town centre a pre-09:30 departure on weekdays wasn’t going to attract many passengers.

    • Thanks for bringing this to my notice and it does look as if bus pass holders are more of a priority than getting folk to and from work, which would be case if you believe some campaigners. Also, let’s hope that economic activity will sustain the expanded services. As it happens, I spotted one of the new buses for service 88 around Wilmslow yesterday too.

  3. The Buglawton service situation is interesting as CEC have let a contract for a 30 min service which somewhat undermines any commercial offering of a Macclesfield-Congleton service and Buglawton has benefited I believe from new housing transport finances.

    • That extra housing transport money would explain what is happening in Congleton more generally because I was surprised by the new contracts myself.

  4. The only reason I can think is that High Peak were in discussion for sometime and notified them well in advance of their intentions to exit

  5. This morning, I got caught out by a change to service 130 that I hadn’t expected: the previous Monday to Friday 09:10 departure from Macclesfield now leaves at 09:05.

  6. CEC have confirmed that another operator is looking at potentially registering journeys on the 39. My thoughts would be that GHA Coaches could be the most obvious or maybe very slim possibility bakerbus looking to boost there presence again, though that is much less likely, it would allow them to offer say Macclesfield – Biddulph journeys perhaps again in conjunction with the existing 99. Time will tell as to what happens.

  7. It is quite possible that they are doing this for political gain given that George Osborne and David Cameron have already said more measures will be coming after the election if I am not mistaken

  8. The 42 service between Crewe and Congleton via Middlewich is to get the GHA Gold branding in due course. In total 13 GHA Gold buses are being acquired for Cheshire East routes but I’m not sure where the half not used on the 42 or 88 routes will be used. One of the route 88 branded Enviros has been nabbed for the T3 route this week with an old DART filling in on the 88 route

    • Thanks for sharing this. The T3 should get new buses within the next few months anyway so any nabbing should stop (a November trip from Llangollen to Barmouth was on a battered ageing Denis Dart and the way back from there to Ruabon was on a leather-seated Optare Solo, not an obvious choice for a long distance journey like that). GHA’s incursion into Cheshire would appear to be a long term thing and I wonder where they are getting the money for all of this enhancement and expansion that we have been seeing.

  9. As an update to my earlier post, 5 of the new GHA Gold buses will be Enviro200 like the ones on the 88 route and will be used on the 42, 91 and 92 routes. The other 4 will be Solo SRs similar to what D&G Bus use on one1ink and will be used on the 39, 51, 52 and 72 routes. The 54 reg Cheshire Connect Solos will be released once all those buses are in service.

    • Thanks for the news. It is good to see some investment in new buses and I hope that the services get the support that they need.

      P.S. I now have tracked down the timetable for the Monday to Friday service 39 between Macclesfield and Congleton. Strangely, it is missing from the Cheshire East Council’s list. That and the lack of any updates makes me wonder if it is maintained anymore.

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