Tuesday 15 March 2016

The Add-Vantage of the Leigh Busway [2]

Atherton and the Rest
Atherton lies just north of Leigh.

Atherton (pop. 20,300) is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, in Greater Manchester, England and historically a part of Lancashire.For about 300 years from the 17th century Atherton was referred to as Chowbent, which was frequently shortened to Bent, the town's old nickname. Along with neighbouring Shakerley, Atherton has been associated with coal mining and nail manufacture since the 14th century.

Atherton's last deep coal mine closed in 1966, and the last working cotton mills closed in 1999. Today the town is the third largest retail centre in the Borough of Wigan; almost 20% of those employed in the area work in the wholesale and retail trade, although there is still some significant manufacturing industry in the town.

Pre-busway buses are shown in a comples Greater Manchester timetable leaflet ...
... which needs a little unravelling. The standfard daytime pattern is of two buses an hour ...
... running via Roe Green and Walkden (12) or Worsely and Boothstown (25).

As an aside, it is not that many eons ago that the 12 was half hourly with no sign of a 25!

Both services (12 and 25) continuer south from Atherton to Leigh. The 26 is an evening variant of the 25, run on tender by Diamond Bus North West, formerly South Lancs Travel. 
The 26 is, effectively, a 25 until it gets to Astley, then it runs direct to Leigh, not serving Atherton. Which leaves the 39/X39.
Currently the X39 provides uni-directional peak hour service from Leigh and Atherton into Manchester fast (?) via the Bolton Road, with the 39 being used for similar night services.

So almost all of this is swept away from 3rd April by the new V2 ...
... using a chunk of the bus way, then branching right direct to Atherton. Like its partner in crime, the V2, it will run every 15 minutes. This will give a Busway Bus every 7/8 minutes from Tyldesley into Manchester or, to put it another way, a doubling of the frequency from Atherton.

Evening and Sunday services are half hourly on each, every 15 minutes from Tyldesley.

For Atherton, the speed up is much more favourable. The busway's 55 minutes compares well with one hour and 24 minutes on the 12 and 25. A brucie bonus at last.

Even thos with limited knowledge of things Mancunian will recognise that the V1 and V2, however impressive, leav lots of bits of tyhe area unserved. The road between Leigh and Atherton would appear to have lost its service through to Manchester, likewise the various weiggles and jiggles of the 12 and 25/26,

Whilst the V1 and V2 have appeared on Traveline North West, we only have the First Bus press release to help is sort "the rest" out.

New service 35 - a local bus service maintaining connections between Leigh, Astley, Tyldesley, Little Hulton, Walkden, Roe Green and Swinton. The new service provides easy access for customers wanting to interchange onto Vantage at Tyldesley, as well as short trips into local town centres and community hubs. Certain peak hour trips will extend to/from Manchester to retain local links.

The improved X39 will operate a revised route through Leigh, Astley, Tyldesley, Little Hulton, Walkden, Old Clough Lane, East Lancs Road and direct into Manchester.

Elsewhere the press release talked about the X39 as offering peak services to (and from?) Manchester and "evening services on the X39". It is not at all clear and fbb will have to wait for the timetables to appear.

But one busway promise is already broken. This panel appears on the purple map for which the extract above was taken.
Sorry, folks. Nowt cross-city to Uni and Hospitals. Tough cheese.

For the sake of completenss, Atherton has an open railway station with two trains an hour ...
... into Manchester Victoria with excellent connections available at Salford Crescent. The station building is twee ...

... and a footbridge leads to an island platform which, surprisingly in the 21st century, still has a splendid overall canopy.
Not only that, but the station is reasonably close to the town centre.
So from Atherton, there is a real choice.

 Next Seaton bus blog : Wednesday 16th March 


  1. The V1, V2, 35 and X39 timetables are all on First's website.

  2. As I understand it, works on the bus priority schemes south from Manchester towards the universities are still in progress. Perhaps an extension will follow once these are finished?
    Note there also another Stagecoach route from Manchester to Tyldesley, Atherton and Wigan, the 32, which has its own separate leaflet. http://www.tfgm.com/journey_planning/RouteMaps/32.pdf