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End of the road for vital Carrbrook bus service
Friday 1st March 2019 @ 15:01 by Tom Greggan
Mossley & Saddleworth News Oldham Stalybridge Tameside

Local residents and councillors in Carrbrook village have reacted angrily to the news that a vital bus service is to be scrapped from April.

The 340 service between Hyde and Oldham currently runs on Monday-Saturday evenings and all day Sunday, taking in Millbrook, Carrbrook, Mossley and Lees en route.

It is a service that’s subsidised by Transport for Greater Manchester, serving areas that during the daytime are provided by the 81A and 343 services.

But from April 27th, the 340 service is to be cut completely, leaving Carrbrook residents with no means of travel to Mossley, Hyde or Oldham in the evenings or, potentially, on Sundays.  

Transport for Greater Manchester say that they issued tenders to renew the contract when it expires but no affordable options were returned.

TfGM’s Interim Head of Bus Services, Alison Chew, said: “We work hard to maintain vital transport links at times of the day and in areas where there is a social need and where no commercial service runs.

“We attempted to renew the contract for the 340 service, but unfortunately due to the high cost per passenger and the proximity of similar services to the route, a decision was made to withdraw it.

“We understand people will be concerned about the loss of this service and it is not a decision that has been taken lightly, however we strive to strike the right balance with the resources available to us, endeavouring 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.”

It has been proposed that a two-hourly 343 service could be introduced on Sundays, although an operator for the service has yet to be confirmed.

Frank Butler is 81. He and his wife used to regularly travel into Mossley on the bus for evenings out. Sadly, she passed away two years ago and since the 340 stopped calling into Carrbrook village, Frank can’t get out as much as he’d like.

Upon hearing the news that the service is to be scrapped altogether, Frank said: “I think it’s absolute rubbish. We’ll have nothing at all after 6.30pm on weekdays or on Sundays. I don’t know how we’re going to get around. I think it’s ridiculous that they can’t find a company to run the service.

“We can only go to Ashton now. What if we want to go into Mossley, or Hyde, or Oldham? They’re supposed to be encouraging people to use public transport but now I’d have to get a taxi, which is more expensive as well.”

Councillor Adrian Pearce, who campaigned with Frank to get a bus stop in Carrbrook village, says cutting bus services leads to isolation and loneliness in communities. He wants to campaign with residents to restore an evening and weekend bus service.

“This is the latest of a series of cuts to bus services across Tameside which have affected people trying to get to work or back from school or even, heaven forbid, socialising with friends or relatives,” he said. “Changes to bus patterns in Ridge Hill and the reduction in evening services in Heyrod have had the same effect, preventing elderly people or those without their own transport, from carrying on simple tasks like shopping or visiting the doctor.

“One of the worst effects of these cuts is to isolate the growing number of older people living alone. Loneliness is one of the major hidden blights on modern life, ruining people’s lives and causing ill health. Cutting people off from their friends or the services they need by reducing local bus services is only adding to this problem.

“That is why, as a first step I will be campaigning with local residents to restore local bus services at weekends and in the evenings serving Carrbook village leaving both the old and young isolated and disadvantaging those people without access to transport.”