#AYearOfBuses 58: Rochdale – Oldham
Today’s winner on #AYearOfBuses isn’t the most scenic route in the world, nor does it run to any particularly interesting places…anymore.
First Manchester’s route 58 is one of the main bus routes linking the two Greater Manchester towns of Oldham and Rochdale, calling at Shaw, Crompton and Milnrow along the way. It’s changed very little since the days of GM Buses, save for a short-lived extension to the Trafford Centre in 2008 – when it was all the rage for the city’s bus operators to try and divert as many routes as they could to the shopping centre, in order to cash in on the shopping boom.
The 58 was one of the first recipients of First’s ill-fated Overground branding in Manchester – and one of the only routes to receive both iterations of the concept (the later version of the branding, with giant egg-shaped roundels towards the rear, is shown here). It was one of the routes initially ran by Oldham depot’s Mercedes-Benz Citaros, new in 2000, along with the 59, 82/83, and 409.
58 has sadly gone downhill the past number of years. The 15 minute frequency got cut to 30 minutes then the Middleton-Oldham extension got withdrawn last year. This route runs Monday-Saturday daytime only with the 181/182 services passing through the Shaw to Oldham section via Milnrow on Sundays and Evenings. Because most of the route rivals with the Metrolink, passenger numbers have fallen heavy on this and First announced their plan to withdraw this route entirely in April 2019. However an hourly service has been saved instead. Meanwhile sister route 59 is doing very well with a service every 10 minutes between Oldham and Manchester.