A very changed bus network in Cheshire East

There may have been good intentions to write about these changes last month before they happened but other distractions got in the way and it is only now that I am doing so. Last year, there was yet another consultation about subsidised bus services in Cheshire East with the aim of saving money and the outcome has been drastic. It makes any need to update timetable pages on here look like a triviality. In the meantime, I will try my best to collate the changes here and remain open to learning about any that I may have missed.

The biggest change is that Sunday services around Macclesfield have been heavily reduced and the bus station building closed on that day of the week. Only the bus shelter at stand 9 sees service now and that is a big change from a situation shown in a photo from nearly ten years ago when the place looked full of buses awaiting departure on a Sunday afternoon.

Now, the only services serving the town of a Sunday are town services 5 and 6 now operated commercially without the later evening journeys that used to run by D & G Buses, service 38 to and from Crewe also operated by D & G Buses and service 58 to and from Buxton operated by High Peak. Arriva services 9 to and from Moss Rose, 10A to and from Bollington together with 130 to and from Manchester all are Monday to Saturday operations following withdrawal of their Sunday services.

Weekday evening services have been affected too with Arriva’s Macclesfield services 9 and 10A now going without the later Friday and Saturday night services that used to be provided. Later evening journeys on service 38 between Macclesfield and Crewe not longer attract subsidy so it will be interesting to see if Arriva continues to operate the full timetable commercially as they do for now. The same change applies to D & G Buses Crewe town service 8 and Sunday journeys also are provided commercially.

Otherwise, route reorganisation is a good description for what else has happened. Monday to Saturday journeys on service 58 have been rerouted to replace the withdrawn town service 1. The same applies to services 391 and 392 now operated by Selwyns instead of High Peak between Macclesfield and Stockport with the former of these serving Kerridge as a replaced for the withdrawn service 11. D & G Buses commercial Monday to Saturday service 130 now runs between Macclesfield and Manchester Airport, replacing former service 200 between Wilmslow and Manchester Airport.

The mention of Wilmslow brings up another reorganisation that takes some added effort to explain. For some reason, it was seen fit to combine the routes of former services 27, 88 and 289 into a single block. The result is that service 88 now runs between Macclesfield and Altrincham via Knutsford and Wilmslow, replacing service 27 operated by Howards. There is an additional commercial route 88A between Knutsford and Wilmslow’s Colshaw Farm estate that acts as a replacement for Knutsford town service 300 together with commercial Knutsford town service 87. Lastly, service 89 connects Knutsford with Northwich and replaces that part of route 289 while Network Warrington has expanded its service 47 to Monday to Friday operation with some journeys extending as far as Knutsford.

Making alterations to existing services to replace withdrawn one applies else in Cheshire East too. For instance, route 39 between Crewe and Nantwich has been extended to replace withdrawn route 52. Other changes in the area include new routes 70, 71, 72 and 73 operated by D & G Bus and service 78 saw a reduction in route length. New service 317 between Alsager, Sandbach and Leighton Hospital offers a replacement.

Additionally, new services have been set up to replace withdrawn ones. One is service 77 between Congleton and Kidsgrove that was replaced by part of service 318 between Alsager and Congleton. Route SB1 was renumbered as 316. There have been some losses too with service 99 between Macclesfield and Congleton via Bosley counted among them. Crewe town service 8 also changed around the same time and it now is Monday to Saturday service so you have to wonder if that lost its Sunday operation until you check the details.

Other routes were tweaked around Easter too and these include service 19 between Macclesfield and Prestbury, service 42 between Congleton and Crewe as well as service 84 between Crewe and Chester. Some changed operator like Congleton’s Beartown bus network though that otherwise remains unchanged.

In summary, there has been a lot of upheaval so I hope that this is the end of such cost saving since it has left some people stranded. That comment especially applies to Sunday services around Macclesfield and this will affect bank holiday services too since many operate to a Sunday timetable. One has to hope that this is the last of such initiatives because it all suggests an air of managed decline with cuts inducing more cuts.

BakerBus Cheshire Route Changes 2013-03-14

BakerBus have been running bus services in Cheshire for longer than I have lived in the area. My first exposure to their offerings was the 27 between Macclesfield and Knutsford. Its hourly frequency is set to become a memory unless there is a change in fortunes at some point. The buses that they used over a decade ago were Iveco midibuses that often were standee only on leaving Alderley Park. Thankfully, larger vehicles replaced them and these were Wright Handibus bodied Dennis Darts that later developed an irritating habit of unreliability before government money gave us new Wright Cadet bodied DAF and LDV ones in their stead. However, BakerBus was to lose the Monday to Saturday 27 contract and the buses they had for running it a few years later to Bowers shortly after the latter came into Centrebus ownership.

That was far from the end of BakerBus’s involvement in Cheshire bus services even if peak only services 34 between Congleton and Wilmslow via Alderley Park and 26 between Macclesfield and Alderley Park were withdrawn around the same time. Sending peak 130 Macclesfield to Manchester around by Alderley Park was a partial replacement as was the extension of some service 27 journeys to Congleton, never a successful move by the appearances of things.

Some service 99 journeys Biddulph to Congleton were extended as far as Macclesfield that go around by Bosley crossroads and using the A54 and the A523. These (the 99/99A/99B/99C) are to change in mid April and no longer will serve Bromley Estate in Congleton from then on. Instead, it will be turn of their Beartown Bus branded service 90 to do the needful so this is a service change and not a loss, exactly the type of thing that we need to hear more often at the moment.

Speaking of Beartown Buses, these are the town service network and more of their number are set to change around the same time as the others above. 76, 91, 93 and 95 are the affected routes and I am aware as what the alterations will be at the time of writing. The same can be said for the X38 from Biddulph and Congleton to Crewe too.

All of the services that are to change are Monday to Saturday operations and Congleton only has D&G daytime service 38 between Macclesfield and Crewe passing through the town on Sundays. That’s not to say that BakerBus do not run Sunday services though since they recently won the contract to operate Macclesfield Sunday and bank holiday town services 5 and 6 and once had the contract for the 108 between Stockport, Macclesfield and Leek too before that went to D&G and the service got canned to save money in 2011.

Though they lost the 392 and 393 Macclesfield to Stockport routes to High Peak and their 391 got mothballed with the P1 (currently a GHA operation) replacing it as a Poynton local service, they still keep Monday to Saturday daytime service 11 between Macclesfield and Kerridge. With their other Cheshire operations such as service 9 around Crewe, this long established Biddulph operator is not set to leave us just yet if ever at all. Fortunes may ebb and flow but they have a good base in Staffordshire that must offer some opportunities for riding out any lulls. After all, it was not so long ago when they had contracts for Greater Manchester services so things do come and go.

A junction in need of traffic lights?

One of the things that amazes me about Cheshire is where you can find footways and traffic lights. Sometimes, these are as far from dense urban areas as you can hope to get. The traffic lights at Bosley Crossroads are typical of the type as perhaps are those at Monk’s Heath. That’s never to say that they are not needed but it is telling how dense traffic can get on Cheshire’s roads at times that even rural locations are afflicted by the malady.

On the other hand, it can amaze one where there aren’t any traffic lights either. For example, having one at the junction of Green Lane and Alderley Road (A538) in Wilmslow would surely help the 130 on its way to Macclesfield during the rush hour. The possibility that really comes to mind is the staggered junction between Priory Lane, Macclesfield Road (B5087) and Prestbury Road near between Upton Priory and Prestbury. I was reminded of this twice when come home from work on my bicycle because with busy filter lanes, someone could take a chance when they shouldn’t and anyone on a pedal cycle cut come off badly as a result. The Connect 19 passes the way too so visibility mightn’t always be what it should be. Of course, you should never pull out of a minor road onto a major one when you cannot see what’s happening but we all can make mistakes, can’t we? It’s not a particularly nice part of the road system of a dark evening or morning so I often wonder if anyone does come a cropper around there.