Route 88, Knutsford to Altrincham via Wilmslow – now half-hourly and with tables! ….

Posted on October 27th, 2014, by The Chairman

Bus Route 88 Knutsford – Knutsford Station – Morley Green – Wilmslow – Wilmslow Station – Hale Barns – Altrincham Interchange has been relaunched today with a doubling in frequency to half-hourly. Now with leather seats, free wifi and even tables!


The service previously didn’t call at Wilmslow station; this greater transport integration is very welcome. And with the service now half-hourly, depending on timing it could provide a very useful link with the main line at Wilmslow rather than having to go north to Stockport to then go south (via Wilmslow or Macclesfield).

This was first announced last March, with Cheshire East re-awarding the contact to GHA Coaches (trading as Vale of Llangollen Travel) at a saving of £364,000.

Here are more details of the launch from the Knutsford Guardian.

The buses being used are “proper buses”, British-built Enviro 200s, rather better that the Optares they replace and they’re much easier to manoeuvre with the leading wheel behind the driver, rather than right at the front of the vehicle as on the Optares.

Here are some pictures I took this morning in Knutsford Bus Station prior to the 0815 departure.








Please leave a comment

  1. PaulW Says:

    Jen you are right I misread your previous posting.

    The 88 contract with D&G is inflated by around £200k I am told, compared with the GHA contract, as an extra bus is included in the cycle to cope with traffic delays. It appears this has resulted in some “taking up time” at some points when traffic is flowing well.


  2. vince chadwick Says:

    The “taking up time” is getting silly. On Saturday I returned from Altrincham after pax counting and stopped in Wilmslow for a coffee with a friend. About an hour later I saw the ‘Knutsford’ 88 I intended to catch home go past the cafe early, and dashed out to catch it. It was sitting at Bank Square stop, and remained there for a full 10 minutes!

    Why can’t the timetable be tightened up during the day to take up the considerable slack, and relaxed at peak times when no doubt traffic makes timekeeping more difficult?

  3. vince chadwick Says:

    Is the 88 bus service degenerating to its old self? I turned up at Bank Square this morning at 11:39 intending to catch the 11:49 bus towards Knutsford. It was a pleasant day so I didn’t mind the 10 minute wait in the sunshine.

    Ten minutes came and went. Then twenty. Then half an hour. Two 88s had gone past the other way, going to Altrincham.

    After 40 minutes a friend passing by in a car gave me a lift, so I never did discover what time the bus actually turned up.

    I rather suspect it never did. Pity. I thought the service was reliable now and the timetable not a work of fiction.

  4. Edd Says:

    In reply to Vince Chadwick I caught the 12:35 bus from Knutsford today and it passed a Knutsford bound bus in Mobberley which would have been the 12:19 from Bank Square and that bus had one of the regular drivers driving it. Although, the bus I was on had a new driver.

  5. vince chadwick Says:

    Which would have been the service AFTER the one I waited for.Confirms my suspicions that missed-out buses are happening. 15 years ago when I was regularly working in London bus stops had PIDs that showed when the next XXX service would arrive.

    Us northern peasants still await such luxuries as we lose another 40 minutes of our lives we’ll never get back waiting for a bus that just isn’t ever going to come.

    Trains are so much more civilised in many respects, not least this one.

  6. Stephen Torbitt Says:

    Missing buses on the 88 service particularly Knutsford bound has been very common for years ever since GHA first picked it up. The problem is this will continue due to breakdowns,congestion or roadworks between wilmslow and altrincham as that’s usually where roadworks occur as I’ve observed. People get frustrated and complain to the bus companies which don’t help as they don’t own the service only run it, if people complained to the council who own the route then the council will be able to either threaten the company to cancel the contract or actually cancel it which won’t happen unless they have many complaints.

  7. Jen Says:

    Unfortunately, D&G Bus don’t offer live bus tracking like Arriva do so if you want to find out what’s happened to a bus you need to phone them on 01270 252970.

    As Stephen Torbitt says there’s a number of reasons why buses can go missing but there are other reasons in addition to those that he’s mentioned. One is that the drivers and buses come from a depot in Crewe and if there’s an accident on the M6 in the northbound direction all the M6 traffic transfers to the A50 causing significant delays. Another is badly parked vehicles mean the bus can’t get down a road it’s supposed to serve.

    I doubt Cheshire East would consider cancelling a contract if the majority of services operate and run within 5 minutes of their scheduled time. They are more likely to make a deduction from the subsidy for any services which don’t run.

    The bus that Edd caught yesterday would have been the return working for the one which Vince Chadwick attempted to catch but that doesn’t prove or disprove anything in itself.

  8. Jen Says:

    Cheshire East council have proposed the 27, 88, 200 and 289 bus services will be withdrawn in the next financial year as part of a £1.5m reduction in public transport funding. They are proposing to instead have a 2 hourly ‘E1’ service running Altrincham-Morley Green-Wilmslow-Knutsford-Macclesfield and a 2 hourly ‘E2’ service running Altrincham-Morley Green-Wilmslow-Knutsford-Northwich. They are saying the 200 is not required as the train can be used as an alternative – have they seen the frequency of service at Styal station? The 300 Knutsford circular evening and Saturday will also see a subsidy cut, while the 130 Sunday and Bank Holiday service will see it’s subsidy withdrawn. If the cabinet approve these changes at their meeting today they will be put out to public consultation.

    There’s some more information at the below links:

  9. vince chadwick Says:

    To the best of my knowledge, there is no railway station at the Aviation Viewing Park, presently served by the 200 bus.

    I cannot fathom why the Northern rail service between the Airport and Crewe does not stop at Style in either direction except for very few trains. These trains have a lengthy wait at the Airport before continuing to Crewe or Manchester, s a few minutes extra between Airport and Wilmslow would not affect end to end journey times.

    Regarding the ’88’ bus, early last year the bus shelter on Knutsford Road at Davenport Green (near the Horse & Jockey) was demolished by a delivery truck delivering to the corner shop opposite. I was told by someone at Cheshire East that replacing the shelter was delayed while a proposed traffic scheme in the area was finalised, with possible relocation of the bus stop. This was resolved by autumn last year with no re-location of the bus stop required.

    In late December last year I was waiting for a bus there and got talking to a man in a suit (and yellow jacket) and a man in boots and working clothes (and a yellow jacket). They were ‘measuring up’ for replacement of the shelter. Why a ‘boss’ had to be present I don’t know, and why measurements were required I don’t know, as the tarmac covered holes in the pavement where the previous shelter had been located were clearly visible. Boss man informed me the shelter should be replaced ‘early in the new year if not sooner’.

    Some minutes later a second Cheshire East van drew up, and two workers in yellow jackets got out. After chewing the fat with the first two Cheshire East representatives, they rummaged in the van and produced an aerosol can of yellow paint with which he sprayed the four tarmac patches covering the holes left by removal of he original shelter. After more chin-wagging, they drove off.

    The bus arrived and I left boss man and his worker still surveying the site. And the shelter has STILL not been replaced!

    So, no result, and a depressing display of over-manning. Perhaps if Cheshire East operated with even a modicum of efficiency they might find they had the funds to improve public services, not cut them!

  10. Stephen Torbitt Says:

    I don’t understand this government or council, they keep saying they want to get people to stop driving and use the buses, but how can they achieve this when they keep withdrawing services, now they want to withdraw four services and replace it with the one, just to save a few quid? There’s not going to be many happy people, no wonder people don’t catch the bus much, and rather sit in traffic jams.E7F7

  11. Chris Edwards Says:

    Hello all.

    It looks as if the council is strapped for cash, just like most council authorities in the UK. But as Vincent wrote previously “They could save money by getting rid of the bureaucratic time wasters at the top of the council pay scale”.

    As most people know, I was a driver on the 88 for a number of years and later became a manager of the GHA Shrewsbury depot. I left the job because of all the failings and red tape that GHA and the various councils I was dealing with kept putting in the way of sensible suggestions. I’ve seen first hand how inadequate councils can be. They would rather block a suggestion than admit they were wrong or accept any form of help.

    I tried to negotiate with Cheshire East about ways to improve the services and save money while keeping the customers needs foremost. Needless to say, I failed every time.

  12. Edd Says:

    I once suggested to Cheshire East council that the 289 service would be more useful if it was diverted to Warrington after High Legh, instead of running to Altrincham. Cheshire East council had even produced a report showing commuting patterns to and from Cheshire East which showed that there was a significant commuter flow between Cheshire East and Warrington. However, they just dismissed my suggestion saying that the High Legh to Altrincham part had to be retained and that there wasn’t money for a new service to Warrington but now they seem to have decided the Knutsford to Altrincham section of the 289 route can be scrapped.

    From my experience patronage on the 88 is now higher than it was under GHA and Arriva, with buses which used to leave Knutsford almost empty now getting a significant number of passengers. It seems changing the route from a 4 vehicle route to a 5 vehicle route has made it a lot more punctual and the more punctual service has attracted more passengers.

  13. Stephen Torbitt Says:

    What I can gather they basically want to extend the 88 to Macclesfield and Northwich with two new services, which is fine, but make them 2 hourly respectively I think will reduce passenger numbers, don’t know why they don’t have them hourly instead of 2 hourly as they will still keep the passenger quota, and still save money with scrapping 27 & 289.

  14. Jen Says:

    Part of the reason for the additional 88 services via Altrincham Road and adding Wilmslow station to the route was to attract more commuters to use the service – the services via Altrincham Road serve a large employment site owned by Waters Corporation. Now it seems Cheshire East no longer care about getting car users to switch to public transport.

    The full proposed timetables are here: and there will be a consultation on them starting in a couple of weeks. The proposed timetables are even worse than what the media reported as it’s proposed a bus is taken off the service in the morning and afternoon to run a school service, which leaves huge gaps in the timetable.

    I think this response shared on Twitter sums up the proposed changes pretty well:

  15. Stephen Torbitt Says:

    Makes you laugh, just read the new proposed timetable, terrible, even said about the 88 having high passenger usage, yet they want to reduce, I know they need the money but there not going to make much doing things like that, it wrecks my mornings for work as the first one I’d be able to catch is 07.55, which gives me 5 mins to get to work before I start. This is one not so happy chappy

  16. Stephen Torbitt Says:

    Hi, I don’t know what’s going on about these proposed changes, but recently I’ve heard a rumour that Cheshire east has sold the 88 route to tfgm, I know it’s probably a load of tosh, in fact I think it’s 99% rubbish, I don’t think they can do that anyway. But that’s what I heard and just wondering if anyone has heard anything similar? Apparently it’s to help them with their budget cuts, and as it’s a high passenger service, then tfgm can subsidise d&g to keep it half hourly, but like I say more than likely rubbish

  17. Paul Wilkinson Says:

    Highly unlikely. This is a Cheshire East supported service that TfGM pay a proportion towards for the small part of the route in Trafford. TfGM also support the 288 from Altrincham to the Airport and in the current period of restraint, it is highly unlikely TfGM will spend anything out of the GM area.

    Most Supported services in the Altrincham area are hourly in the daytime and two hourly in the evening if at all.

    Warrington BC wanted TfGM to pay more for the supported 5 / 35 services up from 8% to 44%. TfGM have negotiated to pay 16% for 12 months.

    Cheshire East have long cut back support for cross border routes with TfGM doing similar – hence the recent 378 service which TfGM declined to support when Stagecoach withdrew the Wilmslow connection.

  18. Jen Says:

    Some fairly good news regarding the 88 and 200 services. Knutsford-Wilmslow will continue to operate to a mainly half-hourly timetable Mon-Fri from 1st April (when the subsidy cuts take effect.) However, Wilmslow-Altrincham will become hourly Mon-Sat and Knutsford-Wilmslow will be hourly on Saturdays. D&G Bus are to divert their commercial Macclesfield-Wilmslow-Handforth Dean service to Manchester Airport station via Styal (Mon-Sat) and weekend 288 services (between Altrincham and Manchester Airport) will serve the viewing park.

  19. Stephen Torbitt Says:

    Well that is good news, glad they will be half hourly between Knutsford and wilmslow. If d&g are keeping the 88 service I would of thought that d&g would extend the Knutsford to wilmslow to the airport instead of diverting 130 as that’s one huge diversion, but at least it’s good news for those who use 200 service.

  20. vince chadwick Says:

    I guess Wilmlow – Knutsford half hourly can be done with 2 buses, which it couldn’t if extended to the Airport. And the Viewing Park will have no service during the week.

    Since the Cheshire East subsidy ceases in April and these services will ‘stand on their feet’ financially, there is less confidence in them continuing in the reasonably stable form they have to date. D&G can presumably just ‘pull the plug’ any time they want to as Cheshire East (not putting in any subsidy) will no longer have any say on services being terminated.

  21. Edd Says:

    It seems D&G have made a commercial decision to run an hourly 88A service, which will operate via Longridge, alongside the contracted hourly 88 service via Mobberley Road, rather than continuing to run a half-hourly Knutsford town circular bus. It will be interesting to see whether any new bus stop signs appear given Longridge only has bus stops on one side of the road and the Shaw Heath Post Office stop will not be on the 88A route.

  22. vince chadwick Says:

    Is the 88 ‘contracted’ after April? A D&G driver told me Cheshire East were pulling out and D&G were to run the service unsupported by subsidy, hence the reduction in frequency.

    Does Edd’s post imply that the Wilmow – Knutsford service will be half-hourly, with an hourly 88 on the present route and an hourly 88A running via Longridge?

  23. Stephen Torbitt Says:

    According to Cheshire East website, the 88 altrincham-wilmslow- Macclesfield and the 89 altrincham -wilmslow- Northwich is supported by the council and the 88A Knutsford- colshaw farm is commercial

  24. vince chadwick Says:

    My D&G driver dismissed the Macc and Northwich extensions to the 88 as untrue rumour. He said it’d be the same route as today, but hourly, and no subsidy. He did not mention a half hourly Wilmslow – Knutsford service.

    Anyone know what WILL be happening?

  25. Edd Says:

    Hi Vince,

    The hourly 88 will run via the existing route between Altrincham and Knutsford via Morley Green, 88A services between Wilmslow and Knutsford via Longridge are in addition to that. The new timetable plus an explanation can be found on the D&G Bus website –

    Cheshire East council have also published timetables showing only services which will get a council subsidy – so useful if you want to know which services are supported but useless to use for planning your journey!

  26. vince chadwick Says:

    Thanks Edd. The D&G driver was wrong on all counts, then!

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