New Bus From Manchester Airport to Alton Towers

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Llandudno

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High Peak buses are launching a new service on Sundays from the end of May.

The X99 will operate between Buxton and Alton Towers, but in fact it is a through journey from Manchester Airport and Stockport as an extension to the 199 Skyline service.

Someone more techy than me may be able to post the link from the Derbyshire County Council bus services webpage?
 
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GusB

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Please remember that when referring to external sources, a relevant quotation, within quote tags, is required as well as the link to the source. Thanks.

If referring to an external source you should put the text in QUOTE tags, provide details of the source and make a relevant comment to promote discussion.
 
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RodS

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markymark2000

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What is going on with Alton Towers? For years, they have have had basically only a First bus to Stoke and the X52 but in the past year, they have gained 3 buses.

Good luck to High Peak, others seem to have made a success with their Towers buses so hopefully this will be another one to add as a regular service. Only thing which could work against them is it being Sunday only.
 

Baxenden Bank

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What is going on with Alton Towers? For years, they have have had basically only a First bus to Stoke and the X52 but in the past year, they have gained 3 buses.

Good luck to High Peak, others seem to have made a success with their Towers buses so hopefully this will be another one to add as a regular service. Only thing which could work against them is it being Sunday only.
For many years I have been bemused by the lack of a decent service to Alton Towers. It is (or was) the second largest paying tourist attraction in the country (or some such claim) and yet it merited just one advertised bus each way per day - the First 32 service you mention (previously Potteries Motor Traction / PMT X39). This operated as a rail connection from Stoke Station with through fares available and was timed for the London train. There was a very limited local service (239) which passed the entrance.

It was also a very difficult route to run. Physically it required specially geared double deckers for the hill between Oakamoor and Cotton. Secondly on a rainy day it could carry only a handful of passengers yet on a sunny day it could fill five double deckers. 30 or so years ago such things were much easier to resource with larger fleets, a larger pool of drivers and spares sat on the bus park (and drivers in the canteen) that the inspector (remember them!) could call upon. The money it could take on a busy day - with inclusive Towers admission paid to the bus driver - was substantial.

Then First dropped the ball, or perhaps like many of its longer distance services, it retrenched as they preferred to concentrate on their 'Overground' network. Having buses two hours away from the home area, with a mechanically unreliable fleet, causes headaches!

The PMT service, and the D & G service (32X) when first introduced operated on the back of the Alton Towers staff service (generally unpublicised to the general public). Between the two Alton Towers themselves operated a public and staff service.

The X52 (Trent Barton, Nottingham to Alton Towers) is a relatively recent introduction.
The X41 (D & G, Stafford to Alton Towers) is a bit more recent than that, and is/was linked to a staff service.
The X70/1 (Hulleys, Sheffield to Alton Towers) commenced last year.
The X99 (Manchester Airport to Alton Towers) is new this year.

The last two make sense as they service populous areas, including large student populations, who may not have access to a car.

One change is the development of hotel accommodation at Alton Towers and their offering packages beyond a simple 'thrills' day out.
 

lachlan

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As a non-driver and big roller coaster fan, it is really good to see a better service to Alton Towers

The last time I went (2018) there was only a minimal service from Stoke station and it wasn't timed well with the train from Crewe. We ended up sharing a taxi with two others instead which got us to the park before opening. Starting at Manchester Airport (with its much more frequent rail service) should be much more convenient. I haven't looked into the services this year, hopefully at least one will arrive at the park before opening time!
 

Statto

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Main issue is, it runs on Sunday [& Bank Holidays] only, with the service departing 07.45 from Manchester Airport, 8am Stockport, try arriving anywhere for that time Sunday morning on a train. Might have better luck on Bank Holidays though.

Here is the full timetable including the Manchester Airport section, which the Derbybus info does not have.

https://www.highpeakbuses.com/media/3098/x99-alton-towers-30052021.pdf
 

Mcr Warrior

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Main issue is, it runs on Sunday [& Bank Holidays] only, with the service departing 07.45 from Manchester Airport, 8am Stockport, try arriving anywhere for that time Sunday morning on a train.
To be fair, the Sunday morning service starts off as the regular 199 service between the Airport and Buxton, which operates hourly on Sundays, before then continuing to Alton Towers; the problem seems to be the absence of any further onward services from Buxton to Alton Towers apart from the one mid afternoon.
 

markymark2000

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To be fair, the Sunday morning service starts off as the regular 199 service between the Airport and Buxton, which operates hourly on Sundays, before then continuing to Alton Towers; the problem seems to be the absence of any further onward services from Buxton to Alton Towers apart from the one mid afternoon.
I think the point being raised was good luck getting to the 199 for that time in the morning (to then get to Alton Towers), not the shorter Hartington trips.

Other services seem to serve train stations later and be closer to Alton Towers so they have pick ups from the train stations around 10am or even Hulleys has their buses at 08:40 from Sheffield. A lot of buses start around 8am on Sundays and so unless you live on the 199, or you have an excellent bus service which connects into the 199 at that time on a Sunday morning, the service isn't overly useful. Saturdays you would have a higher uptake both normally but also with connections as buses start slightly earlier.

I know it doesn't work with the existing 199 but ideally, I think the 199 should be about 30 mins later (so dep Stockport 08:30, arrive Buxton 09:25) and then run fast to Alton Towers, not via Hartington. That would save another 15 minutes (so 10:15 arrival with the 5 mins layover in Buxton). Better arrival time at Alton Towers (matches a little bit better the other arrivals at Alton Towers) and better departures from Stockport and along the route.

Just my opinion though.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Just my opinion though.
And a valid one. Just looks to me like a random through journey possibility after the early morning 199 Sunday service has arrived in Buxton, and the same bus is then utilised for the Alton Towers run, not sure why the operator doesn't operate any slightly later services for Alton Towers (that could link with 199 Sunday services from the Airport) at Buxton.
 

Baxenden Bank

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I think the point being raised was good luck getting to the 199 for that time in the morning (to then get to Alton Towers), not the shorter Hartington trips.

Other services seem to serve train stations later and be closer to Alton Towers so they have pick ups from the train stations around 10am or even Hulleys has their buses at 08:40 from Sheffield. A lot of buses start around 8am on Sundays and so unless you live on the 199, or you have an excellent bus service which connects into the 199 at that time on a Sunday morning, the service isn't overly useful. Saturdays you would have a higher uptake both normally but also with connections as buses start slightly earlier.

I know it doesn't work with the existing 199 but ideally, I think the 199 should be about 30 mins later (so dep Stockport 08:30, arrive Buxton 09:25) and then run fast to Alton Towers, not via Hartington. That would save another 15 minutes (so 10:15 arrival with the 5 mins layover in Buxton). Better arrival time at Alton Towers (matches a little bit better the other arrivals at Alton Towers) and better departures from Stockport and along the route.

Just my opinion though.
Arrival times at Alton Towers can be difficult. Some people want to arrive well before opening time to be at the front of the queue for a new ride. Arrive at 0930 and there is little traffic so the bus can be timed reliably, arrive at peak times and the queues can be horrendous - the length of the internal road and on to the public roads outside the park. The buses do get to cut off early on the internal road (like paying for VIP parking) but still get held up. If you are a coach, and parking up all day, it is not a problem, but if you have an immediate return working you need the reliable timings.

I guess the X99 is not aimed at arrivals by train (or aeroplane) at the airport but the residents of the section Stockport to Buxton.
 

Mcr Warrior

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...not sure why the operator doesn't operate any slightly later services for Alton Towers...

Arrival times at Alton Towers can be difficult. Some people want to arrive well before opening time to be at the front of the queue for a new ride. Arrive at 0930 and there is little traffic so the bus can be timed reliably, arrive at peak times and the queues can be horrendous...
That's a seemingly valid working explanation! o_O
 

lachlan

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Unfortunately for myself, arriving before opening is vital as the queues build up soon after opening, and many days have short opening hours (like 10-4) so I really want to maximize riding time.

It's promising to see new services though here's hoping they are a success.
 

Statto

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I'm thinking would the X99 be better off being a Saturday service to Alton Towers, more opportunity for passengers to get to Stockport for 8am, although looking at the timetable if it ran on Saturdays the 07.45 won't arrive in Alton Towers until at least 10.30, unless it operates direct from Buxton

The afternoon journey to Alton Towers looks more positioning journey so the bus can make the return trip without running too much dead mileage, same with the morning return

Alton Towers is not helped by it's location, in the middle of nowhere, miles to the nearest station & single track roads going to/from the site
 

cnjb8

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I'm a bit confused. Will the X99 be part of the 199 timetable or will 199 buses terminate and become X99 buses?
 
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