More on April 2014 Changes to Cheshire East Bus Services

Details are being revealed about changes to bus services in Cheshire East from the end of this month. First on the list is what is happening to Saturday journeys on Arriva’s service 130 between Macclesfield and Manchester from the start of May. Thankfully, it is the section between East Didsbury and Piccadilly Gardens that is seeing any impact following loss of Transport for Greater Manchester funding. Journeys towards Manchester city centre at 07:55 and 08:55 are being dropped and Macclesfield-bound services leaving Piccadilly Gardens at 07:33 and 09:28 no longer will do so. Instead, they will commence from Parr’s Wood in East Didsbury instead at 07:51 and 09:51, respectively. Apart from those, there is on Arriva’s website what appears a confused comment on a Monday to Friday morning departure for Macclesfield but I will overlook that until the actual full timetable is published.

The current Monday to Saturday service 108 from Macclesfield to Leek and Ashbourne would appear to be getting split with the 108 only running between Leek and Ashbourne according to a new timetable on the Derbyshire bus timetables website. From the last Monday in April, it does appear that the new 108 is better than the old one with five journeys each way a day and the spread of the day served extends later into the evening time too.

But for information in an email from Staffordshire County Council about bus services, I would be mourning the complete loss of the Macclesfield to Leek section of the current 108. Apparently, there is to be a new two hourly service 109 between both towns. We may be getting another division in routes but that can be overlooked given the proposed improvement in the level of service. If we get that, then it needs supporting or we could lose it, not the sort of thought that I want to be putting around at all.

More changes are coming to BakerBus service 99 between Biddulph and Congleton from 2014-04-21 with a thinning out of off-peak journeys and strengthening of the peak timetable. Also, Buglawton is dropped apart from the single evening journey from Biddulph to Macclesfield in order to have a bus in place to operate the council contract for Macclesfield to Crewe services. While the new timetable looks very different to the old one, it remains workable and extended journeys on service 94, normally a Newcastle to Biddulph operation, to offer school transport connections early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Times for those journeys are as yet unavailable and make be added on here once I have them.

Other than these, early morning Monday to Saturday journeys on High Peak service 58 between Macclesfield and Buxton are being tweaked as follows:

Current 06:40 from Buxton to leave 10 minutes earlier at 06:30

Current 07:45 from Buxton to leave 3 minutes earlier at 07:42.

Current 07:10 from Macclesfield to leave 5 minutes earlier at 07:05.

Of these, only the 07:45/07:42 runs on Saturdays according to the High Peak timetable. It does seem that early morning bus travel on Saturdays is becoming less available than it once was and what has happened the 130 Saturday timetable also reflects this, taking us back to the start of the piece.

For whatever reason, April is bringing with it a lot of bus service alterations. Some are fully known while others are awaiting extra details that could added on here yet. Still, we are looking at tweaking and trimming rather than the chopping that is ongoing elsewhere. Hopefully, the evolving cost savings of recent developments like recent subsidy reductions on the Connect 88 between Knutsford, Wilmslow and Altrincham will keep those away from us.

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.

Cheshire East Bus Service News 2013-02-13

There seems to be an element of concern when changes to bus services that serve Cheshire East are announced and this collection is no different. There is one with timing changes in the form of First’s service 20 from Leighton Hospital and Crewe to Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent for when Stoke’s new bus station opens. This is the safer type of announcement that is preferable but there are others that aren’t such non-news as other forthcoming changes announced by High Peak on their website. Otherwise, it is a rough and tumble mix that proves that the world of Cheshire East bus service provision is far from stable yet.

Knutsford Service 300

Firstly, there’s the matter of services changing over from council financial support to commercial ventures. One of these is Knutsford town service 300 and the operator is High Peak. However, there is a route change in the form of the withdrawal of the Tabley Road and Queensway extension.This commences at the start of April.

Macclesfield to Crewe Service 38

Monday to Saturday evening services on route 38 have been operated by Arriva and were going out to tender again. However, D & G are going to offer these on a commercial basis from the start of June and it will be interesting to see how they get on with the journeys. There is one withdrawal as a result of this though since it means that the 23:35 journey will no longer run and the new operation will begin from the first Monday of June. Their depot is in Crewe so it’s not hard to see why that last journey to Macclesfield has been discontinued.

Macclesfield to Knutsford Service 27

Commercial enterprises need not always succeed and High Peak are withdrawing their service 27 between Macclesfield and Knutsford from April 3rd. Having travelled on this service on Saturdays towards the end of last year and seeing reasonable patronage then, this looks disappointing. There were many tweaks to the timetable and the latest one took effect this past Monday so it looks as if these proved to be vain attempts to sustain the service given the latest sad announcement. Cheshire East Council are looking into replacement options so we’ll need to see what they will put in place as a replacement. That 18:40 departure from Knutsford to Macclesfield would have allowed a lovely longer day out around the former and that looks unlikely to survive any changeover.

However, there was a mention of Cheshire East Council’s cabinet supporting the idea of financial support for Macclesfield to Knutsford bus service around the time of the widespread bus funding cuts being announced. Maybe we might see a service offered by GHA on this basis yet? Well, they have been successful in recent contract tendering so their Macclesfield outstation might see more action to follow their gaining Macclesfield to Prestbury and Wilmslow to Manchester Airport council contracts in recent times.

Macclesfield Service 1

Another loss will be Macclesfield town service 1 from the bus station to Forest Cottage. This is a short that always looked a little odd so it may not be so greatly missed. High Peak were the operator and there’s the 58 service between Macclesfield and Buxton that offers a partial alternative anyway. The last running day will be March 16th.

Crewe Service 6E & Crewe to Northwich Service 31

There are to be changes from March 24th to Shavington and Crewe to Leighton Hospital service 6E with D & G taking over the Monday to Friday council contract to go with their Sunday and bank holiday work on the route. Accordingly, Arriva also have pulled their commercial 6E service on Saturdays. It seems that the losing of contracts can result in other effects and that it isn’t only Arriva that are doing this. In fact, they’re also discontinuing the 20:18 Leighton Hospital to Northwich journey on the same day as the 6E changes.

Northwich to Sandbach Service 37E

Monday to Saturday evening journeys from 20:00 are being withdrawn from April 7th and I remember one parked in Sandbach (a 23:04 journey) awaiting passengers a few years back that didn’t show much sign of patronage. So this announcement might have been foreseen and there is no talk of replacement options either.

Wilmslow to Stockport Service 378

April 7th is to be the day when the loss of Sunday services and Monday to Saturday evening journeys is to commence. Interestingly, the Sunday journeys on the curtailed route (it terminates at Grove Lane) are to continue on a commercial basis and there is no talk of the same for the Monday to Saturday evening journeys. There also is to be some re-timing of journeys too, especially the last Monday to Saturday commercial journeys of the day from Wilmslow.

Some Bus Company Changes

It now appears that the current economic climate and the curtailments in public spending have affected two companies based not too far away from where I live. The first is the merger of the operations of Bowers and the Trent Barton depot in Dove Holes near Buxton. Apparently, Centrebus and Trent Barton are embarking on a joint venture that is to be based in Dove Holes with the Chapel-en-Frith depot looking set to close. The name for the new company is to be High Peak and is to grace the roads of Cheshire as well as Derbyshire since Bowers run quite a few services around Macclesfield and Knutsford. The 199 Buxton-Stockport-Manchester Airport route is another one that is bound to be moved to the new company and that means that Greater Manchester will be included among the areas served too. The long distance Transpeak service between Manchester, Buxton, Derby and Nottingham is to stay operating like it does today with the Dove Holes depot staying in use as the northern base. It is going to take time for the changes to come into place but this autumn could see the first signs of the merger once the reorganisation along with the paperwork and authorisations that it entails have been completed.

In another development, D&G has felt the effects of bus subsidy cuts made by Stoke-on-Trent City Council. That situation must have made an approach by Arriva regarding acquisition of D&G’s North Staffordshire business look very attractive. The result is that Arriva is buying it to build up Wardle Transport, a subsidiary that it has in the area. After the sale, D&G will continue to trade from Crewe and its sister company in the West Midlands, Midland, is unaffected by the change.

The announcements for both of these changes mentioned the reality of a more challenging trading environment. This is the more pertinent for D&G because one of it founders set it up after the Labour party’s landslide election victory of 1997 in the hope of the then new government increasing the funding for bus services, something that actually did happen. Now that the proverbial pendulum is swinging in the other direction, we are seeing signs of consolidation and, in some unfortunate cases such as McKindless in Glasgow (once Scotland’s largest independent bus operator), company failures. While there can be no doubt that the bus business is facing a changed environment, it might have its upshots too with higher fuel costs and a reduced standard of living making families’ having an extra car more expensive than it was. If that were to increase bus patronage, it could compensate for the reductions in public spending but only time will tell whether or not that comes to pass, especially with some councils such as Northamptonshire having some very draconian proposals.

Some Bus Company Changes

It now appears that the current economic climate and the curtailments in public spending have affected two companies based not too far away from where I live. The first is the merger of the operations of Bowers and the Trent Barton depot in Dove Holes near Buxton. Apparently, Centrebus and Trent Barton are embarking on a joint venture that is to be based in Dove Holes with the Chapel-en-Frith depot looking set to close. The name for the new company is to be High Peak and is to grace the roads of Cheshire as well as Derbyshire since Bowers run quite a few services around Macclesfield and Knutsford. The 199 Buxton-Stockport-Manchester Airport route is another one that is bound to be moved to the new company and that means that Greater Manchester will be included among the areas served too. The long distance Transpeak service between Manchester, Buxton, Derby and Nottingham is to stay operating like it does today with the Dove Holes depot staying in use as the northern base. It is going to take time for the changes to come into place but this autumn could see the first signs of the merger once the reorganisation along with the paperwork and authorisations that it entails have been completed.

In another development, D&G has felt the effects of bus subsidy cuts made by Stoke-on-Trent City Council. That situation must have made an approach by Arriva regarding acquisition of D&G’s North Staffordshire business look very attractive. The result is that Arriva is buying it to build up Wardle Transport, a subsidiary that it has in the area. After the sale, D&G will continue to trade from Crewe and its sister company in the West Midlands, Midland, is unaffected by the change.

The announcements for both of these changes mentioned the reality of a more challenging trading environment. This is the more pertinent for D&G because one of it founders set it up after the Labour party’s landslide election victory of 1997 in the hope of the then new government increasing the funding for bus services, something that actually did happen. Now that the proverbial pendulum is swinging in the other direction, we are seeing signs of consolidation and, in some unfortunate cases such as McKindless in Glasgow (once Scotland’s largest independent bus operator), company failures. While there can be no doubt that the bus business is facing a changed environment, it might have its upshots too with higher fuel costs and a reduced standard of living making families’ having an extra car more expensive than it was. If that were to increase bus patronage, it could compensate for the reductions in public spending but only time will tell whether or not that comes to pass, especially with some councils such as Northamptonshire having some very draconian proposals.