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Major changes to Congleton bus services from start of September 2013

Within the last few days, it has come to my notice that BakerBus are sharply cutting the number of services they operate in and through Congleton. The 99 from Biddulph will largely remain, albeit with only very few journeys extending as far as Macclesfield. Thankfully, both D&G and High Peak appear to be stepping in with replacements for the services that are facing withdrawal.

The latter are set to offer a new service between Macclesfield, Buglawton and Congleton. While this has yet to gain traffic commissioner approval, it has gained the number 39 and it will be of interest to see how the timetable looks. When High Peak did operate service 27 on a council contract, a number of those journeys started from or terminated in Congleton so they may know the route anyway from those less austere days.

As for the Beartown Buses brand, this may be set to disappear now that D&G are running their replacements and I cannot see route branding like that applied to Crewe service 1 (one1ink) appearing here. The current 77 service between Congleton and Kidsgrove is being redirected to go along Padgbury Lane, Ullswater Road and Sandbach Road to leave a new 76 to serve Banky Fields and The Westlands. The current service 42 too is seeing changes so as to include West Heath on its route. Otherwise, D&G will take over services 90 and 91 with both keeping their half hourly service frequencies.

There are services being lost with the 95 and the X38 ceasing to exist. However, D&G have registered a Monday to Friday service 36 between Crewe and Sandbach that is to be a partial replacement for the X38 while the 38 from Macclesfield to Crewe remains anyway.

The shape of all these new services has yet to become clear but there is cause for optimism given that other operators are stepping in instead of BakerBus. The service news from D&G should be worth watching just like that from High Peak, especially since I have learned of forthcoming timing changes to service 392 (morning and evening peak services) between Macclesfield and Stockport (also from September). There has been little alteration to bus services in Cheshire East for a while now with only the summer school holiday 378 service between Wilmslow and Stockport being the only newsworthy change until this week.

Update 2013-07-30

Links to new D&G service timetables have been added now so it does look as if the Traffic Commissioner is giving these the go ahead. Others should follow as soon as I get them; Traveline has yet to provide September travel information on its timetable lookup facility.

Update 2013-07-31

Details of High Peak service 39 have appeared today. It’s an hourly Monday to Saturday service that doesn’t operate on bank holidays and has extra peak time journeys from Monday to Friday. Apparently, it’s being offered on a commercial basis and the registration is under consideration by the traffic commissioner.

There also are details of the revised 99 and 99B service (again a non bank holiday Monday to Saturday affair as has been the case until now so no change there) available with Biddulph, Congleton and Buglawton being the main extent of the route and enjoying an essentially hourly frequency. The only journeys to Macclesfield are one in the morning that acts as a positioning journey for service 11 between Macclesfield and Kerridge and one in the evening that does likewise for the Monday to Saturday evening Macclesfield to Crewe Cheshire East Council contract (service 38). There is one evening journey from Macclesfield and that’s all for the day; it facilitates the return of the service 11 bus from Macclesfield to the BakerBus depot.

 
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Posted on July 23, 2013 in Buses, News, Timetables

 

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Changes to High Peak Bus Services 2013-03-12

Here, I am referring to the bus company named High Peak rather than the area since it has its share of bus operators too. While I am most interested in its Cheshire operations, there’s a lot of change coming in its Derbyshire hinterland too.

That it operates services other than cross-boundary ones into Cheshire does look a little surprising when you consider that it’s based in Dove Holes near Buxton and that winter weather often takes its toll on their operations. Still, they are continuing with their Knutsford town service 300 even after they are planning to mothball the service 27 between Macclesfield and Knutsford. That’s now going out to tender so it’ll be interesting how things look from next month. Around the same time, the 300 is becoming a fully commercial operation that leaves out the Queensway and Tabley Road parts of the route though GHA’s 289 between Northwich, Knutsford and Altrincham offers an alternative to the 300, which may explain the change. A shortened Macclesfield town service 1 still continues though that was to be withdrawn and the Macclesfield to Stockport routes 392 and 393 are under their custodianship too. After those, there’s the cross-boundary services that took Bowers, High Peak’s predecessor, into Cheshire in the first place and these connect Macclesfield with Buxton (58), Glossop (64) and New Mills (60), occasionally along with other places that include Disley (60) and Bakewell (58).

Bus services serving Ashbourne are seeing a lot of changes from the start of April. The 42 and 42A direct services to Buxton are a casualty though the 441 is a partial replacement. Otherwise, it’s the 442 that’s mainstay with a largely hourly service on all days of the week except Sunday when a lower frequency over the whole route is on offer.

Otherwise, there are a number of less frequent Monday to Saturday services fanning out from Ashbourne to serve Thorpe (101), Parwich (102) and Kirk Ireton (103). This reorganisation means that the 111 to Parwich no longer will operate after the end of March. High Peak also gain a Monday to Saturday evening journey from Ashbourne to Derby; the service number is 109.

After those, there just are timetable and route tweaks. The 389 New Mills town service is among these as are the 390 Shire Hill Hospital to Whitfield and 394 Glossop to Stepping Hill Hospital. Following cuts in Cheshire East, you’d be wishing to be wishing for this scale of adjustment again but it may be a while coming given the times in which we live.

 
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Posted on March 12, 2013 in Buses, News, Timetables

 

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Cheshire East Bus News 2013-01-23

Only change ever is constant and there are a few new developments to share regarding bus services in Cheshire East. The bigger announcement is that BakerBus will be operating the Macclesfield towns routes 5 and 6 on Sundays and bank holidays. There is no change in timetable announced but it still doesn’t look much of a thank you for their operation of same routes commercially on Monday to Friday evenings.

The timetable for the replacement of the 391 service starting in March, the P1, has been published and it runs from Middlewood to Hazel Grove via Poynton. GHA are set to run it from around 07:00 until around 18:30 so it’s very much a daytime only affair. The timetable is hourly and it looks like a one bus operation like the 200 between Wilmslow and Manchester Airport or the 300 Knutsford town service. That probably is the most cost effective way of doing things so it’s hard to see how more money could be saved apart from running less journeys.

The timetables for the 392 and 393 services from March have yet to be made public and changes are coming. Even with what I reported on here before, I am left wondering if these will be full Macclesfield to Stockport routes operated by High Peak. Only time will tell if those hopes have been misplaced as has been my understanding.

When GHA took over the Sunday 130 route between Macclesfield and Manchester, the timetable got tweaked so all departures from Macclesfield are five minutes earlier than they were. Journey time then is an hour and twenty five minutes with all Manchester departures at 29 minutes past the hour. Like before, the last service from Manchester only goes as far as Wilmslow. Otherwise, the timetable is not overly dissimilar to that operated by Arriva though I do wonder if it might become more Macclesfield-centric in time with their having a base near the town; currently, the Manchester bias of the service is maintained.

Apart from the above, there are temporary route changes due to roadworks. Middlewich is affected until late in February and services 37 (Northwich to Sandwich to Crewe) and 42 (D&G Congleton to Crewe) are diverted. Crewe services 8, 8A and 9 are affected by roadworks on Middlewich Street in the town from tomorrow until next Tuesday with the exception of Saturday and Sunday.

There may have been a time that i might have thought that bus services didn’t change so quickly in Cheshire East but that’s not how it feels now so I have gone for a more standard title. It feels easier than trying to come with new ones all the time and the article hopefully passes the proverbial Ronseal test too.

Update 2013-01-31: March timetable for Macclesfield to Stockport bus services is now online. Most services go via Bollington and Pott Shrigley with only a few going via Adlington. The former is the route of the 392 and the latter the 393 so this is a big change. Hopefully, it’ll do nothing to undermine the sustainability of the service with the possibility of more council funding cuts not being one that can be discounted.

 
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Posted on January 23, 2013 in Buses, News, Timetables

 

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A circular run

A sunny morning was enough to send ideas of improving on my Buxton photo collection into my head and me off on a spot of local travelling. The pondering carried on and designs on traveling to Bakewell came on steam too. They were strong enough to get me picking up a £10 Wayfarer ticket from Macclesfield’s train station before hailing a very full service 58 to Buxton. Much to my surprise, most stayed on it until Buxton itself because I might have expected most to disembark on the way up Buxton Road before leaving Macclesfield.

The day was largely grey by the time that I reached Buxton so no Buxton photos for me then. Inspection of bus timetables sent the idea of going to Ashbourne into my head. After all, it is a part of Derbyshire where I hadn’t gone before and a cloudy day is a chance to see somewhere new. A lack of sun and a chilly breeze were enough to send me onto the next service 42 (like the 58, also operated by Bowers). Along the way, the day cheered up again and I was surprised to see it leaving the A515 for a narrow lane but this was the deviation that serves the pretty place that is Tissington village. That was the only time that it left the A515 until Ashbourne was reached with the terminus being a collection of stances that passes as a bus station.

After spending an hour around a sunny Ashbourne and sampling a little piece of the Tissington Trail, it was onto the last stage of the journey: the 108 from Ashbourne to Macclesfield operated by Clowes with the support of councils in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire. That service left with just two passengers on board but more were to join in Leek and near Bosley so it didn’t stay that empty all of the way. The route stuck with the A52 for longer than might be expected and there were some strange twists and turns before it passed Cauldon to join the A523 at Waterhouses. From there, it was all direct through to Leek and Macclesfield though it started to feel before Leek came into view.

All the buses on which I travelled were well used though none was as full as the Optare Solo that took me away from Macclesfield in the first place. That was the one conveying young families along with the now habitual contingent of bus pass holders and others like myself. In fact, all services were used by both young and old alike with the 42 dropping off some Indians in Tissington.

With its YJ05 registration, the Optare was the newest bus that I used and the age profile of the others was such that they dated from the mid/late 1990’s. Both were Mercedes midibuses that once were common around Macclesfield with a P-reg one operating the 42 and an M-reg one working the 108. Ride on all of these, even the older ones, was better than on some recent journeys between Wilmslow and Macclesfield on Arriva’s 130. In fact, the Clowes bus still retains its welcome sign and seat upholstery from its time in Arriva hands.

All buses operated pretty much to time and the timetables made it all work even when things were being worked out on the hoof rather than being planned beforehand. Now that I have seen how to get to Ashbourne, exploring the countryside surrounding the town is more of a possibility. Who knows what might come of that?

 
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Posted on September 26, 2010 in Buses, Journeys, Observations, Ticketing

 

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Is it really true that less of us travel at weekends?

A thought struck me while looking at the service frequency for D&G’s service 42 between Congleton and Crewe via Holmes Chapel. It is hourly Monday for the full route and two hourly on Saturdays for the same (it runs only between Leighton Hospital and Crewe on the intermediate hours); there is no Sunday service. Arriva’s 130 exhibits the same type of behaviour with an hourly daytime frequency on Saturdays and Sundays while it is half hourly during the other days of the week. Intuitively, you would have thought that, away from the rush hours, less folk would be using buses on a main work day in comparison to Saturday when the shops are open for the same hours and there are more folk off work to visit them. However, it doesn’t seem to go like that. Confounding factors might include folk spending their free time at home and not travelling about or people using services that are closed at weekends. Both of those could explain why the streets of Macclesfield are next to empty of an evening; if there is nowhere to go then nobody comes. Another thing to remember is that there is an inclination to spend a whole day going somewhere for some activity rather than dividing it up into short chunks. All of these must affect patronage and might explain why the service level of a Sunday simply drops over a cliff. All in all, the behaviour of hoards can be very odd and I suppose that it has its effects on bus timetables too.

 
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Posted on October 9, 2009 in Buses, Observations, Timetables

 

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