A minor departure from the usual tittle-tattle about hill going antics.
The x57 bus. A brilliant idea, but not really carried out with the best attention to detail. For those of you who are unaware, the x-57 is a bus service (soon to be kyboshed- Jan 2022) run by Hulleys of Baslow. It is a truely heroic route, running from the centre of Sheffield, along the A57, over the Snake to Glossop, and then onward to the centre of Manchester- and beyond(!) to Manchester Airport.
What a route. (and reviewed a long time ago by the father of a friend who knows stuff about public transport... or at least- has opinions)
It provides pretty much the only direct public transport route from Glossop Eastwards toward Sheffield, and is unique in it's East/West reach across the Dark Peak.
Unfortunately it has been plagued with issues. Not least, starting the service up during the second Covid lockdown last year, when pretty much NO-ONE was travelling- that was a bit of a bummer. As much as we wanted to catch a bus, it just didn't seem like a good idea.
The second is that there are very few passengers, in part due to the ongoing concern about covid on public transport etc.
The third is reliability issues. Not entirely surprising when you consider the length of the route- on public roads- there are bound to be some hold ups, but the reliability (or lack of) became a bit legendary.
Initially there were reports of buses sailing merrily through Glossop 20 or 25 mins *before* scheduled time. You'd see bewildered passengers standing at bus stops at the right time- or even from 10 mins early who had missed the bus. Which seems a bit odd.
In September I started University in Manchester. The X57 seemed like the perfect answer. It goes from the bottom of my road and drops me right outside university.
I caught it there and back 6 times.
4 times it was late (twice it was more than an hour late- and this in BOTH directions) and twice it simply failed to turn up. Ever.
Somewhat reluctantly I now take the train. I know they have their reliability issues, but thus far, it's been fine.
It is disappointing, but equally unsurprising that this ambitious and exciting bus route is being cancelled. I can't imagine it was ever making money, or hugely popular- but when you have something that is a good idea AND unreliable, the unreliable thing tends to be in the forefront of peoples minds.
The Green alternative?
The majority of people I have seen on the bus (bearing in mind I live pretty much at the bottom of Snake in Glossop) have been walkers and runners. It has been a boon to people who don't want to leave cars in crowded car parks at Snake Summit etc. along the Snake. It has been marvellous for access into the Peak District National Park for those without cars, and those wanting a "greener" alternative and it is a real shame that it is being axed.
There have been various shoutings across the media about "too many cars in the national parks". Sarah Fowler- Chief Exec of Peak Park is on record as saying that bus services would be a good idea (see here) though of course it probably only applies to the Hope valley and Hathersage areas...
The main flaws of the X57 - started in a pandemic, crazy long route with many places for being delayed and erratic schedule maintainence by the actual buses can be rectified to make it a useful and efficient service into and out of the Dark Peak. Surely a shuttle bus on the same scale as the Snowdon Sherpa would be a great idea? (pricing might also be an issue... I, for one, wouldn't pay a fiver to get to the top of the Snake from Glossop. £2.50- yes, I'd do that relatively often. But a fiver to get to Ladybower- yep, that'd work).
Can it be done? Will it be done?
I realise that would mean that the Peak Park would probably have to subsidise the buses and would then get less cash in flow due to fewer people paying to park their cars in car parks across the Snake, (well, ok, there is only Ladybower) - but *surely* this would be a great idea in the lighter months (and indeed the darker ones) if we could get it off the ground.
Yes it would need a fair amount of publicity. Yes it would need a fair amount of "political" willpower from the Peak Park, but Yes - it would be an excellent addition to creating equality of access to one of Britains most popular National Parks.