Wednesday 29 December 2021

Seasonal Snippets 29/12

Adieu Amazing X57 : Welcome Amazing 257 (1)

Much has been written about Hulleys X57 (and its assocated but short-lived X56 short working to/from Glossop) ...
... but, although most supporters of "the bus" as a means of travel were willing it to be a success, most knowledgeable industry insiders and many outsiders would have used use the word "courageous".
Despite the best efforts of Hulley's staff there were simply not enough passengers to make it financially viable. With HMG's Covid underpinning on the way out (perhaps???) there was no real alternative to giving the X57 the chop.

But was it just lack of passengers?

No 3 son's chum Tim lives in Glossop where the X57 stops at the end of his road. When Tim started a course at Manchester University, the X57 offered him almost a door to door service, especially after it was extended from Chorlton Street to the Airport.
Indeed, it stopped on Oxford Road, just ideal to nip into his lectures!
Tim does clever Sports Physiotherapy stuff and has a blog called "testedtodestruction", although fbb cannot be certain whether it is the clients or the equipment that is so destroyed!

In a break from his usual, Tim wrote a blog about his experiences with the X57.

It does not make for happy reading. Here are extracts, expurgated as usual by fbb,

The sad demise of the X57 bus service

The X57 bus. A brilliant idea, but not really carried out with the best attention to detail. For those of you who are unaware, the X57 is a bus service (soon to be kyboshed in Jan 2022) run by Hulleys of Baslow. It is a truly heroic route, running from the centre of Sheffield, along the A57, over the Snake Pass to Glossop, and then onward to the centre of Manchester- and beyond(!) to Manchester Airport. 

What a route. (and reviewed a long time ago by the father of a friend who knows stuff about public transport... or at least - has opinions)

"At least has opinions" - a major and soul destroying slur on fbb's perspicacity!

It provides the only direct public transport route from Glossop Eastwards toward Sheffield, and is unique in it's East/West reach across the Dark Peak.

Unfortunately it has been plagued with issues. Not least, starting the service up during the second Covid lockdown last year, when pretty much NO-ONE was travelling - that was a bit of a bummer. As much as we wanted to catch a bus, it just didn't seem like a good idea. 

The second is that there are very few passengers, in part due to the ongoing concern about Covid on public transport etc. 

The third is reliability issues. Not entirely surprising when you consider the length of the route on public roads where there are bound to be some hold ups, but the reliability (or lack of) became a bit legendary. 

(Not sure about the following comment - fbb)

Initially there were reports of buses sailing merrily through Glossop 20 or 25 mins *before* scheduled time. You'd see bewildered passengers standing at bus stops at the right time- or even from 10 mins early who had missed the bus. Which seems a bit odd. 

Looking at the timetable, it is well nigh impossible for an X57 to run EARLY!
Unless Hulleys were using rocket powered single deckers?
Tim continues:-

In September I started University in Manchester. The X57 seemed like the perfect answer. It goes from the bottom of my road and drops me right outside university. 


I caught it there and back 6 times. 

4 times it was late (twice it was more than an hour late - and this in BOTH directions) ...

... and twice it simply failed to turn up. Ever. 

Somewhat reluctantly I now take the train. I know they have had their reliability issues, but thus far, it's been fine

It is disappointing, but equally unsurprising that this ambitious and exciting bus route is being cancelled. I can't imagine it was ever making money, or hugely popular - but when you have something that is a good idea AND unreliable, the unreliable thing tends to be in the forefront of peoples minds.

The Green alternative?

The majority of people I have seen on the bus (bearing in mind I live pretty much at the bottom of Snake in Glossop) have been walkers and runners. It has been a boon to people who don't want to leave cars in crowded car parks at Snake Summit etc. along the Snake. It has been marvellous for access into the Peak District National Park for those without cars, and those wanting a "greener" alternative and it is a real shame that it is being axed.

There have been various shoutings across the media about "too many cars in the national parks". Sarah Fowler- Chief Exec of Peak Park is on record as saying that bus services would be a good idea (see here) though of course it probably only applies to the Hope valley and Hathersage areas...

Tim muses as to whether a bus from Glossop to Ladybower might be a good idea.

(IF - word added by fbb) the main flaws of the X57 - started in a pandemic, crazy long route with many places for being delayed and erratic schedule maintainence by the actual buses  - could be rectified to make it a useful and efficient service into and out of the Dark Peak ... 

I realise that would mean that the Peak Park would probably have to subsidise the buses.

They used to, Tim. There were buses in fair numbers from all over the place.

Yes it would need a fair amount of publicity. Yes it would need a fair amount of "political" willpower from the Peak Park, but Yes - it would be an excellent addition to creating equality of access to one of Britains most popular National Parks. 

The crunch question for Tim and those like him, is this, how much more Council Tax would YOU be prepared to pay to get a shuttle bus across the Snake?
The X57 breathes its last on Saturday 8th January.

Sad, but inevitable.

But from Monday 10th January something very courageous happens.

A Reminder From Your Author

Personal Message from fbb

Mrs fbb has been diagnosed with severe arthritis and in the queue for a hip replacement. She is struggling with both pain and mobility so fbb, like the splendid husband that he is (modest as ever!) has taken over all driving and all significant catering. Whilst time can be made for writing blogs, even for research, the fbb performance needle ...

... is wont to drop into the red zone much earlier in the day - usually after de-coking the kitchen from last night's evening meal.
Blogging will continue on a daily basis - it does represent a relief from the rigours of domesticity, BUT quality may be low, quantity may be reduced and something beginning with q may cause delays in posting.

Bus Picture

The Rubber Band Broke!
Yes, really it did!

Solent Flyer happily flying across the Solent

You don't suppose the passengers could be asked to get out and push!

 Next Hulleys blog : Thuirsday 30th December 


  1. Best wishes to you and Mrs FBB. I'm sure all supporters of the blog will understand how time-consuming it is.

    Regarding the X57, I have used it four times and all journeys were on time or very close. In addition I have seen the buses many many times and timekeeping has generally been very good despite the potential for delays. As FBB suggests early running on the scale described seems quite impossible, at least assuming buses haven't left their starting point very early. That seems most unlikely.

    More likely is confusion over which timetable is in force on a particular day. Hulleys use Facebook as well as websites to display their timetables, and I have found more than one version online simultaneously, even on Hulleys' own sites. The normally very reliable Bustimes was also showing the associated X56 as still in operation a couple of weeks ago, and maybe still is, when in fact it was withdrawn a year or so ago.

    It's no good posting new timetables if out-of-date ones are not removed.

    All in all though a very courageous try and in my experience it has generally been very well executed. My only criticism is the number of timetable changes (probably needed in the light of operational experience) and the way in which they have been publicised.

  2. The comments on Hulleys page about early running seemed to have occurred due to the number of timetable 'tweaks' the operator made and passengers unable to keep up, hence passengers seeing buses supposedly running 25 minutes early etc. They also have two websites: and note the http & https - NOT helpful!