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.

How the 130 service level will look from January 2013

The 130 bus service is one that I use regularly to get to and from work so I have a vested interest in seeing how its timetable will look next month. The latest round of bus subsidy cuts have taken their toll and only the Sunday service seems to have escaped. However, if there are any more funding reductions, it too could end up on Cheshire East Council’s cross-hairs. The same cannot be said for the rest of the week.

Today however, Arriva have registered changes to come into force for the end of next month and these have appeared on Cheshire East Council’s website. In their own way, they are quite extensive with lots of little reductions to come. The timetable has yet to become available but this is a flavour of what the changes are.

Monday to Friday services only see one change in the last departure from Macclesfield at 18:10 will terminate at East Didsbury instead of going all of the way into Manchester as it does now. This makes it like the 17:40 and means that the last two journeys of the day from Macclesfield are similarly curtailed so the more regular services offered by Stagecoach will be needed to continue further.

It is the Saturday services that see the bigger changes with the current 06:45 and 07:45 journeys from Macclesfield starting from East Didsbury instead. Also, the seemingly useful 18:35 departure is set to get axed too. Is this possibly another casualty of the abolition of the evening journeys between Macclesfield and East Didsbury? After all, it is unlikely that you will leave Macclesfield for a night out by bus if you cannot make it back in the same way. The last Saturday change is confusingly described but my take is that any journey currently starting from Brunswick Street in Manchester will start from East Didsbury instead.

Such is the extent of the change made by Arriva and D&G’s service withdrawal that a summary is in order. So, here are a few tables with service start and end times to show how savage the service cuts will be. Sunday evening services amazingly persist and show what has been lost for the other days, partially saving me the need to show how things are at the moment. Hopefully, they’ll save folk from getting caught out.

TowardsManchester Piccadilly Gardens (M) or East Didsbury (ED)

PlaceFirst ServiceLast Service
Monday to FridaySaturdaySundayMonday to FridaySaturdaySunday
Macclesfield06:1008:4509:0517:10 (M)
18:10 (ED)
17:3522:00
Wilmslow06:2809:1909:3517:59 (M)
18:50 (ED)
18:0922:29

From Manchester Piccadilly Gardens (M), Brunswick Street (B) or East Didsbury (ED)

PlaceFirst ServiceLast Service
Monday to FridaySaturdaySundayMonday to FridaySaturdaySunday
Macclesfield06:0307:21 (ED)
07:33 (M)
08:34 (B)
09:29 (M)
17:2817:2820:29
WilmslowAs aboveAs aboveAs above18:0418:1822:29

Last buses from Wilmslow to Macclesfield

Monday to FridaySaturdaySunday
18:4018.3221:23

Seeing all of the reductions leaves me wondering if we need to rethink the operation of the 130 to make it more sustainable. Splitting it has been a suggestion that cropped up in a comment on a previous post. After all, train services between Macclesfield and Manchester are such that buses over the equivalent road route are less attractive and the same has to be said for Wilmslow too. The merit of buses is that they connect intermediate points and those connections suffer whenever services are withdrawn to the extent that we are about to witness next month.

One thing that strikes me about bus services that have escaped unscathed such as the 200 between Wilmslow and Manchester Airport (now operated by GHA) is that they don’t much in the way of buses and drivers. Being able to have just a single bus and driver at a time seems to be the best recipe for keeping a service by the lucks of things. That was the intention of the timings for the evening 130 services between Macclesfield and East Didsbury but I now reckon that the length of the route still may have been too long for it to truly work as it should.

Following on from the above, I am coming to think that the 130 should be split. The Cheshire portion would be between Macclesfield and Handforth since that would take less than an hour to go one way according to the current timetable. Having a local operator who would stick with the route would be beneficial too since the level of commitment from either Arriva or D&G has done nothing to inspire confidence.

Though it proved very useful when train services between Macclesfield and Manchester were blighted by engineering works around a decade ago, I now wonder if keeping the route as it is now is a luxury that we cannot afford. My suggestion would mean that a gap needed sorting on the Greater Manchester end and it would be interesting to hear how that would look. Anything has to be better than a declining service level and apparently uncommitted operators.

Those Cheshire East Council cuts are coming

Apparently, Cheshire East Council is exceeding its budget for the year by something of the order of £7.7m and that may explain why they have been looking for cuts in services. That appears to include subsidised bus services and the sort of savings were being sought were £750,000. Thus, it comes as little surprise that they have agreed with the proposals to withdraw financial support from quite a few bus services in order to achieve this. Notices have appeared to inform bus users of what is happening, possibly at the same time as they were updating the timetables for the Macclesfield to Knutsford service in out area.

The only change from the submitted proposals is that they take effect from the start of next year instead of the week before Christmas. Now, all that remains is to see which unsupported services and journeys are continued on a commercial basis and which don’t. It may be that some will survive like Sunday bus services between Macclesfield and Bollington, which lost its funding over a year ago. That is the only hope for the likes of the weekday (Monday to Saturday) evening 130 Macclesfield to Parr’s Wood service, which now has a very uncertain future.

The council have a page for informing us what is happening and the updates should prove interesting and the hope is that we will see reductions instead of wholesale service withdrawals and hope is all that we have been left now. For everyone’s information, here are the affected services:

Service No.Route DescriptionJourneys Supported by the Council
5, 6Macclesfield – Weston EstateMondays to Fridays (evenings) circular service every half hour from 1805 to 2335.
6Shavington – Leighton HospitalAll Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys.
8Crewe – Wistaston GreenMondays to Saturdays (evenings) 6 evening return journeys from 1823 to 2323 and the 0650 morning journey.
9Crewe – Rope GreenMondays to Saturdays 6 journeys between 1235 and 1735.
Arriva 9 , 10AMacclesfield – Moss Rose/Bollington9 Mondays to Saturdays (evenings) between 1855 and 2255.
10A hourly evening service between 1815 and 2315.
15Crewe – Sydney – Elm DriveMondays to Saturdays hourly morning peak and evenings between 1800 and 2300.
16Crewe – Elm DriveMondays to Saturdays – 2 morning journeys (0835, 0905) and 7 afternoon journeys (from 1405 to 1715). All day Saturday between 0835 and 1735.
20Crewe Bus Station – Leighton HospitalAll Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys between Crewe Bus Station and Leighton Hospital only.
38Crewe – MacclesfieldSunday evenings 5 return journeys from 1735 Crewe and 1850 Macclesfield.
44Crewe – Shavington – NantwichAll diversions into Hough village. Plus 4 journeys from Crewe (0745, 0845, 1545, 1645) and 4 journeys from Nantwich (0740, 1540, 1640, 1740).
45Crewe – Marshfield – NantwichMonday to Saturday departures from Crewe bus station (0712, 1512, 1612, 1712) and Nantwich Bus Station (0815, 0915, 1515, 1615, 1715).
45Crewe – MarshfieldMondays to Saturdays 5 evening return journeys between Crewe and Marshfield starting 1840 last bus 2259.
56Tiverton – NantwichTuesdays & Saturdays all journeys.
61Audlem – NantwichSchooldays
63Swanwick – Brine Leas/St.Annes/St.Thomas MoreSchooldays
71Tytherington – Poynton HighSchooldays
71Aston/Wrenbury – Malbank/Brine LeesSchooldays
77Betley – Brine LeasSchooldays
78Crewe – Malbank SchoolSchooldays
79Rode Heath – AlsagerSchooldays
83Bulkeley – ChesterTuesdays all journeys
84Crewe – Nantwich – ChesterMondays to Saturdays (evenings) – 4 evening return journeys from 1845 and 2145 – final journey between Crewe and Nantwich only 2235.
85Newcastle – Madeley – Crewe1 early morning journey 0550 from Crewe to Newcastle arriving 0643.Service is also supported by Staffordshire County Council.
85Newcastle – Madeley – Crewe4 evening return journeys Monday to Saturday.Service is also supported by Staffordshire County Council.
95Goostrey – Holmes ChapelSchooldays
108Leek – Macclesfield1 morning journey – Leek to Macclesfield (extended to Fallibroome High on schooldays only.1 return journey (Fallibroome to Sutton / Langley on schooldays only.One return journey Friday and Saturday evening only.Service also supported by Derbyshire County Council
127Chesterton – CreweFriday only service (completely withdrawn)
130Macclesfield – ManchesterSaturday 2 morning journeys from Macclesfield (0645 & 0745) and 1 from Handforth (0744).Mondays to Saturday evening service (2 return journeys).
378Stockport – Handforth – Wilmslow4 return evening journeys Monday to Friday and 3 return journeys on Saturday.
378Stockport – Handforth – WilmslowAll Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys.
390Bramhall – Poynton – StockportMondays to Saturdays all journeys.
391Poynton – StockportMondays to Saturdays all journeys to be reviewed in conjunction with the 392 / 393.
392, 393Macclesfield – Poynton – StockportMondays to Saturdays all journeys. To be reviewed in conjunction with the 391.
737Weston – Shavington/CreweSchooldays
891Middlewood – Poynton High SchoolSchooldays
K44Weston – Shavington/Malbank SchoolsSchooldays
K80Congleton – Eaton Bank SchoolSchooldays
K95Congleton – Eaton Bank SchoolSchooldays
K96Congleton – Eaton Bank SchoolSchooldays

While it’s not good to see that number of journeys under threat, I believe that folk need to be aware of it too. To mind, this is far more that “some” of the services that the council supports as is their wording for what is coming. One only can hope that this is the last of the bus service cuts but it is impossible to rule out another round of them either.

130 Evening Service

Annoyingly, Arriva has omitted from their latest 130 Macclesfield-Manchester timetable the timings of the Monday to Saturday evening service between Macclesfield and East Didsbury. I suppose that their excuse would be that they don’t operate it themselves since BakerBus are doing the honours on behalf of Cheshire Country Council. So, to set things to rights, here are some timetables cobbled together from Traveline (the timings are the same for Saturdays regardless of the Monday to Friday trappings of what you find below):

Macclesfield to East Didsbury

East Didsbury to Macclesfield