CAMPAIGNING COUNCILLORS have vowed to continue fighting against changes to local 184 bus services after securing some positive steps.
First Bus altered their 184 services in July so journeys that currently terminate at Diggle and operate via Dobcross are curtailed at Grotton.
There are no significant changes to journeys between Manchester and Huddersfield via Uppermill and Diggle, or to the 180 services that operate every 30 minutes.
However, the changes were condemned by local councillors and residents who fear the cut backs will increase isolation among the elderly and make travel more difficult for the young.
Cllr Garth Harkness attended a meeting with former councillors Royce Franklin, Alan Roughley, Cllr Nikki Kirkham, Debbie Abrahams MP and residents to put their concerns to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and First Bus.
And he was delighted some of their concerns have been listened to and addressed.
He explained: “One of the concerns was the 7.30am service being withdrawn, in particular for school and college students. TfGM have agreed to fill the gap during term time.
“The 558 service which currently serves Delph/Uppermill to Blue Coat school will serve now also Diggle and Dobcross.
“We understand this service will be public. The return service will be a yellow bus (Y23) so can only be used by students who hold a pass.
“This is good news and will alleviate problems for some. It has been an excellent example of working together across political persuasions and with residents to get a positive result.
“It is pleasing that Transport for Greater Manchester and First have listened and responded to genuine concerns to mitigate some of the concerns.”
However, he added: “My request to re-route the Huddersfield service through Dobcross has currently been discounted.
“The bus company are concerned with the safety of double deckers going through Dobcross and inconsiderate parking causing considerable difficulties.
“The suggestion of enhancing the 353/4 service to serve Diggle will be looked at. I will continue to push for improvements and reinstatement of the bus service.”
Cllr Nikki Kirkham added: “It’s great news for Diggle residents that have children going to school outside of the Saddleworth area.
“The new morning route can benefit people who work in Oldham or use the tram system to travel further as this will be an open service.
“This has been a joint effort by councillors and Debbie Abrahams MP. Thank you to Transport for Greater Manchester for listening and helping to resolving this issue.”
A spokesman for First Bus said: “We introduced some changes on Monday 25 July to service 184 in the Saddleworth area.
“Due to low passenger demand most of the journeys that currently terminate at Diggle and operate via Dobcross now run to Grotton.
“Diggle continues to be linked with Manchester, Oldham and Uppermill every hour by the journeys on service 184 that operate to/from Huddersfield and Dobcross continues to be served by services 353/4 providing links to Uppermill.
“There were no significant changes to the journeys that operate between Manchester & Huddesfield via Uppermill and Diggle or to the journeys that terminate at Uppermill. The Greenfield 180 service also continues to operate as currently every 30 minutes.
“The 558 service is a school contract we run on behalf of TfGM to Blue Coat School in Oldham and from September this will commence from Diggle instead of Delph.”
Howard Hartley, Head of Bus at TfGM, said: “We listened to parents and heard concerns about missing bus links and extended travel times as a result of First’s changes to its commercial 184 bus service.
“I’m pleased we’ve been able to make some changes to the network that will allow pupils to travel from Diggle and Dobcross to Bluecoat School on services 558 and Y23.”
Later this year, TfGM will carry out a public transport survey to identify where people in Saddleworth believe improvements could be made.
This is part of the Total Transport scheme which aims to deliver better, joined up and efficient transport links in rural areas.