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 Monday to Saturday journeys on service 58 have been rerouted to replace the withdrawn town service 1.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instead of High Peak between Macclesfield and Stockport with the former of these serving Kerridge as a replaced for the withdrawn service 11.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.

Cheshire East Bus Funding Cuts: A little good news from Arriva

After D&G’s service withdrawals, there is a sliver of good news from Arriva pertaining to town services in Macclesfield and the same applies those linking the town with nearby Bollington too. The company is going to give running Monday to Saturday evening services on a commercial basis a go. The timetables for services 5 and 6 are set to change and we have yet to see what they will involve for residents of Weston and Upton Priory. The equivalent journeys to Moss Rose and Bollington are set to stay unaffected for now.

Of course, it is over to us to make use of what survives or it’ll get the axe too. That we are seeing an attempt to stick with offering services at all is a bit of brightness amid what else is happening on our patch and Arriva deserves some credit for that. It would have been rough for Macclesfield to lose town services when Knutsford is to see them continued unaffected and with council funding too. That prospect is not set to come upon us in January anyway and it will be patronage that drives whatever follows next.

However, there has been no news from Arriva today about the soon to be unsupported early Saturday morning 130 journeys from Macclesfield to Manchester though. Macclesfield and Wythenshawe depots seem to be operating separately so we still have to wait to see. Could something be happening with regard to 130 evening services as well? There may be some good news for bus users around Macclesfield but I am not holding my breath just yet. A little more patience is needed but there’s not so much remaining to be revealed at this point. Once all is stable again, it might be time to treat Macclesfield to a summary of its public network like what I have done already for Knutsford and Wilmslow. It looks as if any remaining bus services could do with any extra publicity that I can provide.

Update 2012-11-19: It seems that a bit of arm-twisting was involved in keeping the evening services between Macclesfield and Bollington going, according to last week’s Macclesfield Express. Seeing some community intervention has to be a good thing and the next steps would be better promotion of the service. That Macclesfield town services are continuing too may be a result of the same type of pressure but there was no mention of that in the article. One only can wonder if greater community campaigning would have helped the soon to be lost evening journeys on the 130 (Macclesfield to Manchester), 38 (Macclesfield to Crewe) and 84 (Crewe to Chester). Maybe that’s something that we need to start, as belated as it would be at this stage.