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.

Bus service changes continue in Cheshire East

It’s come to my attention at short notice that G.H.A. Coaches are taking over the Sunday Macclesfield to Manchester service from Arriva on next Sunday (2013-01-13). Whether that means that Arriva weekly and four-weekly tickets will be accepted remains to be seen and I wouldn’t bet on it unless I hear confirmation first. On the D & G Sunday service on the Crewe to Macclesfield route 38, I have never seen anyone proffer an Arriva saver ticket so I wouldn’t be surprised if the same applies here. Looking at Traveline, the timetable is staying the same for now though the Cheshire East Council website suggests to the contrary. Unfortunately, the change involves yet more fragmentation and that hasn’t helped the cause of some of our services recently; the lost Monday to Saturday evening 130 journeys come to mind here. Will it also further test the appetite that Arriva’s Wythenshawe depot has for running the 130 and would getting G.H.A. to run the whole thing be the sort of development that we need? Maybe now isn’t the time for such experimentation but I and others have had more revolutionary thoughts so what about it? There are more questions than answers on the topic and such is where we find ourselves in these times.

Speaking of G.H.A., they are set to operate a partial replacement for the 391 service from 4th March. The new service is called the P1 and we have yet to see details of the timetable for it. There seems to be a growing trend of G.H.A. winning more council contracts recently with the 200 Wilmslow to Manchester Airport and Connect 19 Macclesfield to Prestbury services going their way too. Given that the company is based in rural Denbighshire, this may come as a surprise but I think that they have an outstation in Macclesfield that originally started with schoolbus services before they gained the Connect 88 between Knutsford, Wilmslow and Altrincham.

The mention of Poynton allows me to relate that High Peak will be taking over the 392 and 393 services from BakerBus from the start of March too. It’s a pity to see a quality operator like BakerBus losing out like this, especially given that they brought newer buses to the route when they started on it a few years ago. Those were different times though and the the announcement of the P1 makes me wonder if the truncation at Hazel Grove still applies or if there might be through ticketing via the 199 Skyline service between Buxton and Stockport to compensate for it. It’s an interesting possibility.

High Peak are not done with tweaking the 27 service between Macclesfield and Knutsford though and there are major route alterations to come from 11th February. Some journeys were numbers 27A but no longer will be the case. Beggarman’s Lane will not be served and that’s not exactly a surprise since I saw no one living there use the service on the journeys that I used. That now means that any journeys going via Over Peover and Whipping Stocks Inn will be routed via Ollerton and Knutsford train station instead. The Monday to Friday Over Peover service level is to be cut though with only the following journeys going that way: 1000, 1130, 1300 and 1430 from Macclesfield; 1045, 1215, 1345 and 1515 from Knutsford. That makes me wonder about those going to work at the Barclays site of Radbroke Hall who used to travel by bus and how they managed now. Saturday services are unaffected but that’s little consolation to them. On the subject of workplaces, the Alderley Park loop is getting shortened only to serve only Mereside and not Alderley House. Only for the speed bumps in that place being very harsh, it would be difficult to comprehend why this is being done but bus suspension damage cannot be cheap to fix and there have been complaints from a bus company operating there in the past.

So, while I was thinking that it would be quiet on here for a while, I found the above today. There may be a big upheaval in progress following last year’s decisions on funding cuts but it seems that other changes are not excluded either. What we really need is more news like the investment being made by D & G into Crewe town service 1 but I am sceptical about that at this stage when Cheshire East bus services continue to get rough treatment and one wonders at what we could hear later in the year.

A tale of two Wayfarer tickets

Confusingly, being in Cheshire means that we have access to not one but two Wayfarer tickets for getting out and about certain places using public transport. They are very different as I discovered when I asked for one a bus to Buxton one day; what I got wasn’t the ticket that I expected!

What I had expected to get for my money was Transport for Greater Manchester’s Manchester Wayfarer ticket.  For the £10 adult tariff, you can have a sheet of folded card where you scratch off the year, month and day for when you want to make use of it. The fact that it’s a multi-modal ticket makes it really useful because you can mix and match train and bus services on a day out.

The extent of the rail network in which the Manchester Wayfarer is valid is more than that in Greater Manchester itself with parts of Cheshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire included. Looking at the full map will tell you where you can go using the ticket.

The region within which the Manchester Wayfarer can be used on bus services is greater than with trains. Looking at the full map shows that parts of Staffordshire and West Yorkshire are included along with those in the validity area for train travel. It really strikes me that a day out from Manchester to Ashbourne becomes a possibility and there’s a lot to be said for that flexibility.

In addition to the £10 adult ticket, there are other Manchester Wayfarer ones. For instance, there’s a £5 one for folk aged from to 15 or 60 and over along with holders of the National Concessionary Travel Pass. There’s a group one too for £20 that is an option for family groups. The maximum number of folk over the age of 15 for this four person ticket is two but that still suffices for days out with kids in tow.

What I got on that bus that Sunday morning was a Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket printed using the vehicle’s ticket machine. This, as the name suggests, is for train and bus travel within Derbyshire and to only certain points outside the county’s boundaries. One of these is Macclesfield but the centres of Sheffield, Burton-on-Trent and Uttoxeter also gain coverage on journeys to and from the county. That Stockport wasn’t included became clear to me on attempting to travel to there from Buxton on the 199 bus service that then was operated by Trent Barton. The Wayfarer got me as far as the county boundary and another ticket was needed to get me the rest of the way, highlighting that I didn’t have the Wayfarer ticket that I though I had.

The adult version of the Derbyshire Wayfarer costs £11.10 and allows you to have a child under the age of 16 travelling with you without need for another ticket. There’s a concessionary version too for £5.55 which bizarrely allows you to bring a dog instead of a child and there I was thinking that dogs didn’t need tickets for using public transport! There’s a group ticket too for £20 that has the same rules as per its Manchester namesake. That’s not because Beeston and Nottingham train stations sell variants costing £15.80 for the adult version and £7.90 for its concessionary counterpart so that you can explore parts of Derbyshire with one of those stations as your starting (and ending) point.

So, what I needed to do on that Sunday was to go to Macclesfield’s train station for a Manchester Wayfarer as I have done a few times since then. While its Derbyshire equivalent is widely available on buses, trains and train stations, you need to go to train stations, Transport for Greater Manchester travelshops and some bus company offices for the Manchester one unless you get it by post. The great thing about these scratch and use rover tickets is that you scratch off the date panels only when you need to use ticket so you can have a few of them in hand until you want to travel using one. That makes the postal way of getting them seem less strange than otherwise would be the case.

Once you realise which Wayfarer is which, these are very useful rover tickets for their respective areas. Their having different names would make matters clearer but that’s only thing that is to be said against them. Unlimited multi-modal travel over the course of a day for small fee is no bad thing at all, especially with the monetary pressures that many face.

Update on 2016-05-10: The Derbyshire Wayfarer now costs £12.30 and the Manchester Wayfarer costs £12 from a train station.