Councillor leads call for improvements to ‘terrible’ 350 bus service across Tameside

PATIENTS are late for hospital appointments and employees aren’t arriving on time for work because of an unreliable bus service.

And Transport for Greater Manchester is understood to have the admitted the 350 service, operated by First Manchester, needs improving.

Mossley’s Cllr Tafheen Sharif has received a deluge of complaints from residents about the route that links Oldham, Uppermill, Hey Farm, Mossley, Tameside General Hospital and Ashton.

She said: “TfGM has told me the level of service is unacceptable and weekly meetings are being held with the company about how to improve it. The service is terrible.

“It has been brought to my attention in the last six months and I must have had between 30 and 40 people contact me.

“People are missing hospital appointments and arriving late for work as they have been waiting for up to one hour. I have heard some sad stories.”

Cllr Sharif added she has recently written a “strong email” to TfGM about the situation.

TfGM hold weekly meetings with First Manchester to discuss subsidised services.

While TfGM provides financial support for evening services, they say the 350 is primarily a commercial service and any concerns with the daytime service should be directed to the operator.

There are also issues with the new 355 bus service that was introduced from September on a Sunday and Bank Holidays to replace the 353 and 354. They are also operated by First Manchester.

Pensioner Howard King wrote to the Correspondent is response to an article on the new Sunday service connecting Saddleworth and Ashton that claimed it would be an improvement.

The 355 was introduced in September and was designed to provide a two-hourly service running from Denshaw through to Ashton. It replaced the Sunday 353/354 which provided two separate two-hourly services.

The new route is Denshaw, Delph, Dobcross, Uppermill, Greenfield, Friezland, Grasscroft, Mossley, Heyrod, Stalybridge and Ashton.

Previously the 354 only ran from Ashton to Uppermill on Sunday, but the new 355 route is along the opposite side of the valley.

Mr King wrote: “The new 355 replaces two previous services on Sunday, one bus for two. This is not as improvement as stated.

“It says it covers all areas covered previously. No, it does not as I live on Stockport Road, Mossley, the main ‘A’ road between Top Mossley and Uppermill. We now have no bus service on Sunday.”

Mr King added the weekday 353 service, their only bus, also has issues as there are only four buses each day.

He continued: “The first bus in the morning to Ashton is at 10.18am from near Quick Road. Our last bus to Ashton is 4.18pm with just two in between, making it almost impossible to use.

“How can we get to have any meaningful time in Manchester, certainly not an evening out?

“They may stop this next, saying it is underused. TfGM has 120 trams so purchasing one less could give us a decent service for years.

“Their depot is always packed with unused trams. Improve our service so we can use the tram routes.”

Mr King has sent copies of his letter to TfGM and local MP Jonathan Reynolds, but has not received a reply.

A spokesperson for Transport for Greater Manchester said: “We regularly review how many passengers are using subsidised bus services.

The 355 service was introduced in place of the underused 353 and 354 services to provide a direct link from Denshaw through to Ashton, connecting the Saddleworth villages as well as providing links to Mossley and Ashton.

“We strive to strike the right balance with the resources available to us, endeavoring to ensure vital transport links are maintained whilst also making sure they provide value to the taxpayer and are delivered in the most cost-effective way.

“Passengers can still access Manchester directly by rail and the Local Link service provides links to the train station and the main bus network in Mossley.

“Passengers with mobility issues can also use the Ring and Ride service to travel to any destination up to six miles away.”

 

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