Yesterday I arrived back from Manchester in time to catch the 7.28pm bus from Oldham back to Delph. (This made up to some extent for the bus that had failed to turn up on my outward journey, causing just a little stress about arriving on time to meet a friend. Snow somewhere else on the route was the excuse!) As I waited for the bus on the rather bitter cold evening I fell into conversation with one of our local personalities. I have come across him on a number of occasions at that bus stop at that time of day.
When I arrived at the stop this time he was busy having a rant about the awfulness of our bus service. This is one of his regular themes and I have heard it on more than one occasion. This time he added a new element to it: why do First Bus, the company who run our particular service, not put any heating in their buses? Other companies in the region heat their buses. First Bus used to do so. He is convinced, however, that since the fares went up at the start of this month another measure has come into play to increase the company’s profits - switching off the heating!
The bus arrived and we set off. I phoned home to let Phil know I was en route. He responded that he had been about to call me to warn me about the snow that had been falling on Delph. And, indeed, as the bus made its way up the main road towards my end of the town, the road became snowier and snowier. We found ourselves in a queue of slow-moving traffic as cars slid around. It took us about an hour to do what is usually a twenty minute journey.
My new friend, the elderly complainer, had a little moan about the inability to clear the road, the silliness of using salt instead of just grit, the daftness of British drivers not having winter tires for their cars and so on and so. He had a theory about the reason for one of the problems with our bus route in wintry conditions. Here it is: - The route runs between Ashton-under-Lyne and Oldham, thus falling under the jurisdiction of two local authorities, both of which send gritters out to help make roads passable. However, there is a stretch of road on the border of the two boroughs. If Oldham were to grit their bit of road, they would need to continue onto the Ashton bit in order to find a spot to turn round. The same applies in reverse to the Ashton gritters. Neither wants to grit the other's bit of road. And so that section, a quite steep slope, does not get cleared of snow and does not get gritted in icy conditions. and so the bus has problems. It’s a plausible theory!
Eventually the bus arrived at Delph crossroads, where I got off and trudged home through the snow. The bus then did not turn left into the village - too snowy and slippery - but turned right to continue the rest of its route. Too bad for anyone who was waiting in Delph village!
My grumbly, very informative travelling companion went on his way towards Greenfield. I wonder if I will see him again next week.
Meanwhile here are a few photos of today’s snowy conditions.