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“How dare they”! Droylsden hits back as Stagecoach scraps 168 service
Monday 28th January 2019 @ 14:39 by Tom Greggan
Droylsden News Tameside

Residents and local politicians in Droylsden are fighting back against Stagecoach’s decision to scrap the 168 bus service after saying they feel ‘abandoned’ by the company.

It was announced at the start of the year that the bus company planned to cut the service and replace it with a re-routed 150 service to provide new links to the Trafford Centre.

The 7 and 231 services have also been affected by the changes, which are set to take place from this Sunday, January 27.

But angry locals soon lobbied their local politicians, with Angela Rayner MP and Droylsden councillors having been inundated with phone calls.

Angela Rayner has written to Elisabeth Tasker, Managing Director at Stagecoach Manchester, calling for a consultation on the changes before the 168 service is cut.

The changes mean there will no longer be a bus service that runs to the terminus at the top of Greenside Lane, with the nearest stop now outside St Martin’s Church on the junction with Sunnyside Road.

Residents on the Clock House estate and surrounding streets, home to a lot of elderly people, say they now feel cut off from the rest of Droylsden.

Sheila Slater, 81, has lived on Clock House Avenue for 50 years. She uses the 168 daily to travel to Ashton, Droylsden and Openshaw but now says she won’t be able to do so.

She said: “My first reaction when I heard the news was, ‘How dare they!’ To walk to Sunnyside Road to get the bus, I’ll have to walk down Briarwood or Hawkstone Avenues, but I have to walk in the road as there are cars parked on the pavements.

“It’s alright for younger people but I’m 81 and it’s hard to carry my bags all that way. The walk is too much to do every day. If it’s icy then I’ve got no chance. And will we still get the gritter coming up here if it’s no longer a bus route?

“It’s a no-win situation. It’s like the estate has been abandoned.”

Sheila says she would go around the estate with a petition if she had the energy, but an online petition – www.change.org/p/openshaw-community-save-the-168-bus – has already gathered over 200 signatures.

Angela Rayner MP has written to Stagecoach, asking them to consult passengers.

Droylsden West Councillor Ann Holland says that she and her colleagues are fighting Stagecoach’s decision.

“We have been inundated with phone calls,” she said. “It’s going to cause a lot of difficult to the elderly and disabled people living in the area, as well as people with young children, all for the sake of two minutes.

“If they wanted to scrap the 168, they could have rerouted the 230 to include the terminus at the top of Greenside Lane but it seems to me that has been driven by profit.

“There has been no public consultation. We just want a bus to go to the top of Greenside Lane.”

Droylsden East councillor, Laura Boyle, added: “The cutting of the 168 Stagecaoch service has been done without consultation with passengers and will isolate a whole community by a vital public bus service which, for some, is their only means of transport.

“The residents of Droylsden East are being treated with contempt by the company. We don’t need another service running along the New Road, where a very competitive 216- and further down a 231- already run.

“With the introduction of a second tram at the end of January, this will cause further congestion on the already busy articulated route.

“The people of Droylsden need a bus service to run through our town and our school children need means of getting to and from school. When Laurus Ryecroft is at full capacity, there will not be enough transport for those who need it.

“We call upon Stagecoach to reverse their decision to withdraw the 168 and look again at making the service work for both our residents and the local community.”

A spokesperson for Stagecoach Manchester said: “We would like to reassure our customers who currently use the 168 service that from the 27th January the service will be replaced with new services 150 and 230, along with an enhanced service 7.  These changes maintain the majority of direct links, though for some journeys customers may need to change between services. Transport for Greater Manchester will also provide a school service, 702, from Whalley Range to Wright Robinson college which follows the 168 route.

“Despite recently investing in service 168 to improve the frequency, there are still not enough people using the service to cover the cost of operating it, so these changes have been necessary to ensure the longer term sustainability of bus services in the area.  The changes are not about cost cutting and all of the current staff and buses that we operate on service 168 are being reinvested back into the network.  These changes provide people who live in this area with new direct links to key destinations for both employment and leisure such as Trafford Park and the intu Trafford Centre.”