An Arriva rearrangement to arrive in June 2014

This has been Catch the Bus Week across the U.K. and I have learned that something less positive is on the way for Arriva’s bus services in Cheshire East from the start of June. It comes in the form of many services seeing curtailment of evening journeys.

There are other less notable tweaks too in the form of changes to Macclesfield town services 2, 2A and 4 with the 31 and 31A between Crewe, Winsford and Northwich also coming into the same category. Further details of what is coming have yet to become clear but let’s hope that service reductions are not in order for these.

Others are less fortunate and Monday to Saturday journeys between Macclesfield and Bollington after 21:00. There is little sign of a campaign against this at the time of writing but it really took a big push to get Arriva to provide the commercial service that it has done since council funding was withdrawn. The same sort of thing is coming to Macclesfield town service 9 after 20:45 and circular town services 5 and 6 after 19:30. Also, the 08:35 and 09:05 Monday to Friday journeys on the Macclesfield to Hurdsfield town service are set to go too. These were route 21B and routes 21 and 21A will survive untouched though it does the morning peak travel time no favours at all.

Service 38 between Macclesfield and Crewe loses out too. On Saturdays, there are to be no Arriva buses after 18:00 and that leaves a gap until the council-contracted BakerBus journeys that start at 20:35. It will be interesting to see if Cheshire East Council fills the gap here though I realise that money is tight with them. Otherwise, there is sense in pulling the short return journey between Macclesfield and Congleton that leaves Macclesfield shortly before BakerBus’s first evening journey to Crewe.

Also not escaping unscathed are services 37, 37A and 37E between Crewe and Northwich. There is set to be only journey from Crewe to Northwich after 19:00 and that leaves Crewe as the 37E at 19:34 to arrive in Northwich at 20:49. The other 19:00, 20:00 and 21:00 journeys will not operate.

Other than the above, it is the 23:00 journey from Crewe to Nantwich on service 84 that faces withdrawal. This completes a series of changes that look anything but positive. Recently, I learned that the head of Arriva Northwest is an accountant so it is tempting to lay the blame at bean counting but I reckon that is not the whole story. Of course, there is the matter of passenger patronage to be considered too and High Peak is withdrawing the the last journey of the day on service 14 between Macclesfield and Langley (a Monday to Saturday affair anyway since Arriva stopped offering a Sunday service) to leave no service after 18:00, not a good thing for any commuters though the new 109 service between Macclesfield and Leek could help to fill the gap. Maybe it’s time to support what services are running and get campaigning when we need to retain any that are threatened.

Update 2014-05-19:

BakerBus are to plug the gap left in the Saturday service 38 between Macclesfield and Crewe. Their Saturday departures from Macclesfield will start at 18:35 and continue hourly until the last bus of the day. Their equivalent Saturday departures from Crewe will commence at 19:35 and continue hourly until the end of service, so ensuring a complete service over the whole day. If only something similar could be said for soon to be withdrawn services between Macclesfield and Bollington.

Update 2014-05-27:

BakerBus are set to lose their Monday to Saturday evening journey contract to GHA from the first Monday in July (2014-07-07) so that last evening journey from Biddulph to Macclesfield is set to go at the same time. GHA are taking over service 77 between Congleton and Kidsgrove, another Cheshire East Council contract, from the same date. No timetables are changing though.

It is not all bad news for BakerBus though since they won the contract to operate the soon to be discontinued evening journeys on Macclesfield local services 9 and 10 on Friday and Saturday evenings from the first weekend in June (2014-06-06) onwards. It would be better if Monday to Thursday evenings gained the same reprieve but anything has to be better than nothing at all.

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.

A contract change and its wider effects

High Peak is to take over Monday to Saturday bus service 11 between Macclesfield and Kerridge from February 24th. This means that BakerBus, who currently run the service for Cheshire East Council and have done so for a number of years now, will be handing it over in less than three weeks time.

When BakerBus scaled back the number of Biddulph to Macclesfield journeys on services 99 and 99A last autumn, they left a 07:25 from Biddulph to Macclesfield that arrives at 08:24 and an 18:41 from Macclesfield that reaches Biddulph at 19:36. These were positioning journeys for their Kerridge service and will be withdrawn in less than three weeks time. This leaves the 18:37 from Biddulph to Macclesfield as the only relic of what once was a fairly regular service that now largely is a Biddulph to Congleton route these days, a trend that is set to continue. The remaining evening journey is a positioning one for the Monday to Saturday evening contract for Macclesfield to Crewe (and return) service 38.

However, GHA’s Monday to Friday commercial service 39 is to gain an extra morning journey from Congleton at 07:50 that arrives in Macclesfield at 08:10. That is ten minutes ahead of the first bus to Kerridge and the new timetable for service 11 has all its timings shifted thirty minutes earlier in comparison with the old one. That could come as a big surprise to anyone inattentive who is a regular user of the service.

Less dramatically, Arriva’s Crewe town service 6 is set to operate ten minutes earlier from March 23rd. Then, February 17th sees the withdrawal of Routemaster Buses’ less frequent services 828 and 884 between Crewe and Nantwich. These were peak time services and I hope that their demise will not affect too many folk.

While all this is a mixed bag, it is nothing compared to proposals in other local authority areas and I do hope that we will be spared more tough choices after what we got during 2011, 2012 and 2013. Many services that were supported are now commercial so its up to increased patronage to get them sustained and hopefully improved.

Cheshire Bus Service Changes during December 2013 and January 2014

Just because Cheshire East is quieter than this time last year or other places when it comes to bus services does not mean that there is nothing happening all the same. Other distractions have meant that anything that happened during November passed by on me so it’s best that I capture what is happening now and what is to come in the near future.

At the start of the week, Knutsford town service 300 saw some tweaks with a reduction in the number of journeys serving Lilac Avenue. Next Monday sees little alterations to the BakerBus service between Biddulph and Congleton with its occasional forays to and from Macclesfield. The current 99B journeys will be renumbered 99A and there will be two new journeys too: an 08:10 from Biddulph to Cionleton and one at 15:50 going in the opposite direction. In an age when bus services are being lost, this is a good thing to see.

Congleton town bus services are seeing changes on the last Monday before Christmas with the withdrawal of the 76 to Banky Fields and The Westlands; this last runs on the preceding Saturday. Services 90 to Bromley Estate and 91 to Mossley are seeing frequencies reduced to hourly on Saturdays and at certain times during the Monday to Friday portion of a week from the same day (2013-12-23).

In January, we are seeing more changes again, especially from the first Sunday on 2014. Crewe town service 6 is seeing big changes with Arriva only to operate buses between the bus station and Brookhouse Estate. D&G will then offer a longer version of the same route from Shavington to Leighton Hospital to replace the lost Arriva workings from the same date. Existing D&G services 6A and 6E will be replaced by their new service 6 at the same time.

Arriva services 31, 31A, 37, 37A, 37E and 38 also are seeing changes. Service 38 gets off the lightest with only the questionable Monday to Saturday 20:25 journey from Crewe to Sandbach lost and BakerBus have a council contract for a late evening service to make up for this anyway. In its place, there is a 20:20 departure from Crewe to Winsford Industrial Estate as part of a package of bigger changes to the service. Initially, I thought that the 37 was to become a Crewe to Winsford service with any short journeys becoming 37A journeys. However, the sight of journeys starting and ending in Sandbach makes me wonder if those are set to continue all the way to Northwich after the changes. The new timetable will make interesting reading when it becomes available and I hope that no one gets inconvenienced by the upheaval. Thankfully, service 31 still will go the whole way between Crewe and Northwich, albeit without serving Morrisons in Northwich any longer, while the 31A will become a Crewe to Winsford operation.

Other than the above, Macclesfield town service 21 gets a change of route with services from Hurdsfield to Macclesfield going via Hibel Road and Churchill Way from the first Monday in 2014. On the same day BakerBus also takes over Sandbach services SB1, SB2 and SB3 from D&G with only a slight change to the SB1 timetable at the time of the transfer. Speaking of D&G, they are introducing a new Congleton town service 39 that overlaps with High Peak’s service between the town and Macclesfield, in route rather than timings as far as I can see. It operates between the morning and evening peak travel times from Monday to Friday between Congleton and Buglawton and I hope there is no ill effect on the High Peak service caused by its introduction.

The last change pencilled in for January 2014 relates to the Sunday service for the 130 between Macclesfield and Manchester and it is seeing its share of toing and froing. Initially, GHA had lost the contract to D&G and the new timetable was to be a daytime only affair much like the Monday to Saturday operation of Arriva without the early Monday to Friday morning workings. However, GHA then decided to try running the service on a commercial basis and the council is withdrawing D&G’s contract offer. The appearance of the new GHA timetable is yet to be seen but I suspect that the timings could be like those set to be offered by D&G. However, there is one question lurking in my mind: the current GHA contract ends on 2014-01-12 and their new service starts on 2014-01-26 so will be there any 130 service on 2014-01-19 or that just something that needs tidying? All in all, the situation reminds me of what happened when they swooped in on the Macclesfield to Knutsford service 27 and that is going still.

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.