Saturday, 22 July 2017

Schools Out

Blackpool Council has announced the end of funding for the dedicated school buses to St. Mary's Catholic College and these have been deregistered, along with the 414 which serves Aspire Academy. 

To replace these schools services, BTS is adding some extra journeys to its core network:
  • 3 0756 Bispham Hotel to Abingdon Street which then becomes a 5 to Victoria Hospital via St Mary's School
  • 3 0743 Mereide to Abingdon Street which then becomes a 5 to Victoria Hospital to serve St Mary's School
  • 5 1515 St Mary's School to Dickson Road, then as service 3 1530 Dickson Road to Bispham Hotel
  • 5 1515 St Mary's School to Abingdon St then as service 3 1530 Dickson Road to Mereside
  • 5 extra journeys 0731 Halfway House to Victoria Hospital and 1520 return (using Grange Road for St Mary's)
  • 6 0740 Mereside to Corporation Street then to Aspire Academy, 1500 return
It is understood these will use double deckers, indeed the workings on the 3 are explicitly so stated on the BTS website.



Friday, 21 July 2017

Upcoming Event: Lytham Classic Bus Display and Running Day

Bank Holiday Monday 28 August is the fourth running day from Lytham Hall organised by Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust. A frequent bus service is planned with Ribble and other local vehicles to the fore front. 


Sunday, 16 July 2017

From the Archives: The Delta - Blackpool's Best Buy?

Blackpool's Deltas arrived in this attractive green roof, green skirt livery with black window surrounds with the rest cream. This winter view shows 114 operating service 15 on 2 February 1991 - this being one of two of the second batch to arrive early, in November 1991 (Brian Turner)
Blackpool's bus fleet was predominately double deck from the 1930s to the 1990s, and its only since 2000 that the more than half of the fleet has been single deck (including minibuses). Recent history has been littered with short lived single deck designs:
  • 55 AEC Swifts of 1969-1975 - w/d between 1980 and 1988 - the oldest being 14 yrs and 7 months old
  • 4 Dennis Lancets of 1982 sold in 1988 before their 6th birthday
  • 4 Leyland National 2s of 1984, sold in 1991 before their 7th birthday
  • 15 second hand Leyland Nationals which lasted 3 to 4 years.
Prior to the Swifts, the last new single deck bus arrived in 1940 - two of which survived to the ripe old age of 24, most of the rest having typical lives of 17-18 years. The second hand Nationals were effectively stop gaps to replace the Swifts while BT focused on its minibus fleet. During 1989 BTS tried a pair of Leyland Lynxes, two Deltas and a Dennis Dart, placing an order for 8 Deltas.


Like most Optare vehicles the Delta was sold as a complete bus, though it was of conventional body on chassis construction on the DAF SB200LC550 chassis. You couldn't have a Delta on any other chassis, though the body shell did spawn other variants.

So it was then that on 22 February 1990 106/7 G106/7NBV rolled into the depot yard from Leeds to start a new era. Optare's eye for style produced a stunning vehicle, slightly less harsh than its ground breaking City Pacer but with a family feel. Its low floor (for a step entrance bus) in the front half was coupled with deep windows to afford a view. Internally high backed seats for 46 were specified, rather than the 51 bus seats that could be squeezed in. A contemporary grey soft trim finish was all that let the image down.

The full batch was 101-108 (G101-8NBV) and it saw off Nationals 145-148 and some early Atlanteans. 106/7 made their debut on 5 March with the rest following over the next month. 7 were required on weekdays with five on the 23-25 (Hospital-Mereside/Midgeland Road) and two on the 53 (Airport-Poulton). On a Sunday five were used on the interworked 22/22A (Cleveleys-Halfway House) and 25 (Hospital to Halfway House) and spares often appeared on the 12 (Blackpool to St. Annes).
106, one of the first pair to enter service, seen in the later livery with the cream roof (Brian Turner)
A second batch was ordered - 109, 110, 112-117 (H109YHGetc). 112/4 arrived in late November 1990 well ahead of the rest which came in January/February 1991. These replaced the Strathclyde Nationals and allowed the interworked 2 (Poulton-Bispham), 15 (Bispham-Staining) and 180/2 (Poulton-Preston) to be largely Delta worked using five buses. Eight more followed during 1991 with 118-120/2 (H118-20/2CHG) arriving in April, 123/4 (J123/4GRN) in July and 125/6 (J125/6GRN) in November.

Services
The new batches seemed to take the operations department by surprise as they now had 24 single deckers for just 13 all day workings:
  • 2/2A (Blackpool to Poulton) = 3
  • 15 (Staining to Cleveleys) = 2
  • 23-25 (Hospital-Mereside/Midgeland Rd) = 5
  • 180/2 (Poulton to Preston) = 2
  • 192 (Blackpool to Kirkham) = 1
A network recast saw route 12 extended to Cleveleys and converted to Delta operation in March 1992 taking 8 buses, but at the expense of the 2A and 15 which lost four workings. Three were put to use on a short lived service 4 between Blackpool and Mereside to compete with Fylde from September 1992 to January 1993 with these three moving onto route 11C (Blackpool to St. Annes). January 1993 saw the arrival of four more Deltas (127-130 K127-30UFV) making 28 buses yet without the work to justify them.


The take-over of Fylde in 1994 brought its three Deltas 1-3 (H1-3FBT) into the fold and 101/2 moved there as 8/9 in early 1995 as the 192 was transferred in. When Fylde was absorbed 1-3 became 131-3 and 8/9 regained their original numbers.
The Fylde takeover brought three more Deltas into the fleet - 1 and 3 retained two tone blue, 2 had received blue and cream. They became 131 to 133 and received green and cream fleet livery.  In April/May 2001 all three received the grey, mustard and yellow 'pool' livery for the Metro network. It is seen here on a Park and Ride for the 2001 Open Golf Championship  (Brian Turner)
The consolidated network of November 1994 saw Deltas on the 12 (4), 22/22A (10) 23-25 (5), 192 (1) and Fylde's 44A (3) making 23 duties for 31 buses which was a bit more respectable. The Deltas couldn't cope with the 22/22A so four double deckers were soon drafted in and in March the Deltas moved onto route 6. Next change in August 1996 saw the Deltas move from the 12 and 23-25 to the 12A and 26 increasing the utilisation to 25. The ex Fylde buses were now normally on the 193. Minibuses returned to the 12A/26 in December 1998 and several Deltas were consigned to store! 105-110, 112, 114, 115, 116 and 130 the affected buses. They returned to use in February with the conversion of the 11/11A and 12 to single deck operation.

The Metro network of 2001 saw the following official allocations:
Line 6: 108-110, 112-117 (9 out of 10 all progressively branded)
Line 7: 118-120, 126-129 (7 out of 8 all in livery from launch)
Line 11: 101-103 (3 out of 3 all retained green and cream)
Pool: 104-107, 122-125, 130-133 (122-133 receiving the original Metro pool livery).
Various transfers have since taken place:
Sept 2002: 125 to Line 7 (ex pool to replace 120)
Oct/Nov 2002: 122, 130-133 to Line 11 (ex pool)
March 2004: 118 to Line 6 (ex 7)
Apr-June 2004: 119, 125-129 to Line 11 (ex 7)
May 2005: 115-117 to Line 11 (ex 6)
Aug/Sept 2005 - 101-103 into Pool livery, 104-107 to Line 6
Apr 2007: 115/6 to Pool (used on tram replacement over winter 06/07)
Nov 2007: 115/6 back to Line 11
Feb 2009 - 103 to Line 6 (replacing 110)


Refurbishment
The aforementioned storage of 130 in winter 1998 was for a pilot refurbishment. An odd choice as the newest bus and the most recent repaint! The bus was duly stripped in February 1999 and treated to retrimmed seat, light laminate interior panelling, new floor, revised lighting and another repaint, finally returning to use in October 1999. Deemed a success, the programme was rolled out with 129 first and then in reverse order to 120 which returned to use in September 2000. Neatly the Fylde trio slotted in here (their body numbers follow on from 122) and they were treated in reverse order. They received two modifications to match their sisters - rear number blinds (instead of side ones) and a /from 48 to 46 seats. 131 was followed by 119 and 118 which emerged in April 2001 as one of the vehicles in Line 7 livery for the new Metro network.
The first branded route was Line 7 for which 7 Deltas were painted ahead of the launch in April 2001. This is 120 seen on Bank Hey Street (Brian Turner)

The programme ceased for a while as attention focused on repaints for the new identity but in August 2001 114 entered the works as a pilot for a phase 2 refurbishment. This reduced some of the changes - retaining the soft trim ceilings/coves for example, but saw the high backed seats replaced by modern moulded bus seats. It returned to use in January 2002 after a protracted refit. 113 followed whilst 108 jumped the queue following minor fire damage. This emerged as a phase 3 job with original seats retrimmed and less internal changes. Phase 2 programme continued with 112, 115, 116, 110, 109, 117 completing the pack by December.

The phase 3 work on 101-107 didn't particularly take off. 101 was retrimmed and fitted with a new floor in Spring 2003 with 102 following. 103-107 retained their original seat moquette with 105 receiving attention to its floor during the autumn.
Deltas also gained Line 6 livery - a claret and yellow scheme - this is 107 turning from Adelaide Street onto the 6 stop at Bank Hey Street (Brian Turner)

Withdrawals and Disposals
The first Delta withdrawal was 120 which suffered a suspected electrical fire in the depot on 5 July 2002 and was scrapped in February 2003. Ex Fylde 131 was burnt out in dramatic circumstances in St. Annes on 18 May 2004 and was scrapped in September. 
The sad remains of ex Fylde 131 after its fire at St. Annes Square on 18 May 2004 (James Millington)

The arrival of new Dennis Tridents for Line 11 saw 115-117 and 130 delicensed in at the end of August 2006. 130 had been selected for conversion to a driver trainer vehicle - the retrofitment of ABS braking allowing it to replace one of the two Atlanteans. Sister 129 was also withdrawn in October (with 115 reinstated) and became the second trainer conversion. This emerged as 969/70 (K129/30UFV) in February 2007 in a reverse Metro blue/yellow livery.
From 2002 several Deltas gained Line 11 turquoise livery including 115 seen at Cleveleys Bus Station (Brian Turner)
116 returned to use in November and with 115 had its Line 11 branding replaced by tram replacement lettering to cover for the trams during the winter track renewal process. They gained pool livery in the spring but went back into Line 11 before the end of the 2007. 117 was not so lucky, it was progressively stripped for spares and went for scrap in July 2007. 

The first Delta to be sold for further use was 128, purchased by Preston Bus as a driver trainer. BTS did the conversion over the winter 2007/8 and the bus moved to Preston in February 2008. 

110 was withdrawn in February 2009 and scrapped in June 2009. Its seats live on though - replacing the originals in 107. With 110 gone the remaining 26 were allocated as:
  • Line 6: 103-109, 112-114 (10)
  • Line 11: 115, 116, 118, 119, 122, 125-127, 132/3 (10)
  • Pool: 101, 102, 123, 124 (4)
  • Trainers: 129/30 (2)
So why the best buy? Well reliability. They have proven to be good workhorses and all retained their original engines until a catastrophic failure for 113 in February 2008. A rebuild could not be affected, but the engine from fire damaged 120 was rebuilt and fitted instead. Not a bad record.
Deltas 101-103, 123/124 gained the black version of the pool livery - this is 102 towards the end of its life on service 11 in Lytham (Brian Turner)

2010 saw a sudden end for the Delta, with service changes and some new Volvos wiping out the fleet during the year. 124 had minor fire damage in September 2009 which was not deemed worthy or repair and 103 was withdrawn in Feb 2010 with engine failure. The withdrawal of service 6 saw off Deltas 104-109,112-116 with 101/2/4/6-9/12/23 in use on Saturday 24th then 104, 106, 107, 109 and 112 ran on the final day with 107 last in working the 2300 Mereside to Grange Park then 2341 back to Market Street and depot. 105, 113, 114 and 116 had been laid up earlier in the month with defects.
123 was the sole Delta to carry an all-over advert - though to a somewhat uninspiring design (Brian Turner)

Nine new Volvo B7RLEs entered service in September and this saw off the remaining Line 11 Deltas with 119, 122/3, 125-7, 132 and 133 in use on the last day (4 September 2010) - 118 missing out. 101, 102 and 123 - in black and yellow - except for 123 which uniquely had a Blackpool Council advertising livery (applied Sept 2008). 101/2 were laid up on 28 October, 123 bowing out on service 17 on 27 November. Most Deltas went for scrap. 101 and 133 were preserved - sadly 101 falling out of preservation. 109/127 went to the Evesham area as staff buses so just 128 and 133 survive, the former in defective condition at Preston Bus and 133 splendidly restored. Trainers 969/70 (ex 129/130) were withdrawn in May and April 2015 respectively and scrapped later in the year
130 became driver trainer 970 in October 2006 it is seen here on 15 June 2011 testing the newly finished Promenade roadway (Brian Turner)

No
Reg
Delivered
Withdrawn
Disposal
Current
101
G101NBV
17/03/1990
28/10/2010
Preserved 3/2011
Believed Scrapped
102
G102NBV 
21/03/1990
28/10/2010
Partons, Scrap 3/10/2011
Scrapped
103
G103NBV
26/03/1990
Feb 2010
Partons, Scrap Aug 2010
Scrapped
104
G104NBV
07/03/1990
25/07/2010
Partons, Scrap 15/09/10
Scrapped
105
G105NBV
28/02/1990
07/2010
Partons, Scrap 03/08/10
scrapped
106
G106NBV
22/02/1990
25/07/2010
Partons, Scrap 16/09/10
Scrapped
107
G107NBV
22/02/1990
25/07/2010
Partons, Scrap 20/09/10
Scrapped
108
G108NBV
28/02/1990
24/07/2010
Partons, Scrap 15/09/10
Scrapped 
109
H109YHG
21/01/1991
25/07/2010
Kanes Foods 25/08/2010
Scrapped
110
H110YHG
04/02/1991
Feb 2009
Preston Recyclers 26/6/09
Scrapped
112
H112YHG
29/11/1990
25/07/2010
Partons, Scrap 20/09/10
Scrapped
113
H113YHG
28/01/1991
July 2010
Partons, Scrap 16/09/10
Scrapped
114
H114YHG
29/11/1990
July 2010
Partons, Scrap 05/08/10
Scrapped
115
H115YHG
16/01/1991
August 2010
Partons, Scrap 14/09/10
Scrapped
116
H116YHG
13/02/1991
July 2010
Partons, Scrap 14/09/10
Scrapped
117
H117YHG
04/02/1991
Sept 2006
Wigleys, Scrap 06/07/07
Scrapped
118
H118CHG
23/04/1991
04/09/2010
Partons, Scrap 22/11/10
Scrapped
119
H119CHG
23/04/1991
04/09/2010
Partons, Scrap 19/10/11
Scrapped
120
H120CHG
24/04/1991
05/07/2002
Scrapped 06/02/03
Scrapped
122
H122CHG
24/04/1991
04/09/2010
Partons, Scrap 13/10/11
Scrapped
123
J123GRN
23/07/1991
27/11/2010
Partons, Scrap Sept 11
Scrapped
124
J124GRN
23/07/1991
26/09/2009
Ingelmere Metals 12/05/10
Scrapped
125
J125GRN
Nov 1991
04/09/2010
Partons, Scrap 22/09/11
Scrapped
126
J126GRN
Nov 1991
04/09/2010
Partons, Scrap 27/07/11
Scrapped
127
K127UFV
20/01/1993
04/09/2010
Kanes Foods 04/11/2010
Scrapped
128
K128UFV
20/01/1993
Nov 2007
Preston Bus Nov 2007
Preston w/d
129
K129UFV
28/01/1993
Oct 2006
Driver Trainer Oct 2006
Then Scrap 10/11/2015
Scrapped
130
K130UFV
28/01/1993
Sept 2006
Driver Trainer Oct 2006
Then Scrap 30/10/2015
Scrapped
131
H1FBT
Fylde 5/91
18/05/2004
Preston Recyclers 02/09/04
Scrapped
132
H2FBT
Fylde 5/91
04/09/2010
Partons, Scrap 29/06/11
Scrapped 
133
H3FBT
Fylde 5/91
04/09/2010
Preserved Apr 2011
Preserved 



Saturday, 15 July 2017

From the Archive - from 11C to 17

Today the 17 provides a half hourly service from Blackpool to St. Annes and is a direct descendant from the 11C. The 11C's evolution was driven by circumstance and it seems unlikely to have been envisaged in its familiar form.

The 11C started in 1939 as short workings on service 11 between Blackpool and Lindsay Avenue in Ansdell- operating along Central Drive, St. Annes Road (Halfway House), Blackpool Road, Headroomgate Road and Church Street. In February 1940 Blackpool Road was closed and the 11C diverted via Squires Gate Lane, Clifton Drive and Highbury Road. It was later diverted via Division Lane and presumably then onto Common Edge Road and Hawes Side Lane instead of St. Annes Road. Division Lane was closed on several during World War II and was then closed permanently in 1954 to expand the Airport. A new road - Queensway - opened around the perimeter of the Airport and the 11C was diverted via Queensway and Kilnhouse Lane.

PD3 501 heads under the former railway line - now Yeadon Way shortly before the end of crew operation of the 11C in 1983. (Brian Turner)
Although initially operated by Lytham St. Annes buses, Blackpool took-over operations in 1940 - though the service was still part of the joint arrangement between the two organisations. 1946 saw an increase from the wartime half hourly frequency to every 20 minutes and in 1954 the service was extended from Hounds Hill to Talbot Road Bus Station with four buses now needed rather than three before. Double deckers had also by now replaced the single deckers used previously.
PD3s were synonymous with the 11C until 1983 - here 506 drops off passengers at the Borough Boundary before heading onto Queensway and St. Annes (Brian Turner)
Other than OMO conversion of the Sunday service in 1971, the 11C remained unchanged. Within St. Annes it was almost entirely duplicated by local services 2 along Headroomgate Road and 3 which served Leach Lane and Kilnhouse Lane. Within Blackpool it followed the frequent 6 and 13 to Spen Corner and the 6A to School Road. It was only the section round Queensway that was entirely unique - though it did link Hawes Side to St. Annes and North St. Annes to Blackpool. No attempt was made to integrate the service into the complex provision on the corridor in Blackpool. However the other routes were whittled away with Blackpool's 6A going in 1975 and the Lytham's 2 ceasing in 1968. The Sunday service was eased to every 24 minutes (3 buses) in the early 1970s and then to every 30 minutes in 1975.

1983 saw conversion to One Person Operation and the introduction of Fylde Borough to the service (the successor to Lytham St. Annes). During the day each provided 2 Atlanteans for the 20 minute service, Fylde providing 2 of the 3 on the half hourly evening/Sunday service.

Deregulation saw a half hourly 11C operate every day (2 Fylde and 1 Blackpool bus. The son of the 6A (route 10 Blackpool to Midgeland Road) duplicated it as far as Highfield Hotel making a 15 minute service. This lasted until November 1987 when Blackpool withdrew the 10 (and Fylde won a replacement contract!) and transferred the two buses to provide the full 30 minute service on the 11C, duplicating Fylde's two workings which remained every 30/60 minutes.
Not Fylde's finest hour as Atlantean 134 is pressed straight into service on arrival from Hull in August 1987. (Brian Turner)
Fylde retaliated in March 1988 by starting a full 30 minute daytime service and extending it to Grange Park competing with service 6. These journeys were renumbered 6A, though soon became 11Cs again in July. Blackpool then stepped up the competition by increasing to every 20 minutes in August 1988 and Fylde followed suit in November - six buses per hour being the highest frequency ever on this route - though it ended the Grange Park section.

In April 1989 both operators retimed their services to make an even 10 minute headway - the evening/Sunday service had survived these battles on a joint basis with 2 Fylde and 1 Blackpool bus - just like 1983.

October 1989 saw both operators reduce to half hourly making a 15 minute service. Fylde also withdrew its 193 route (successor to the 3) from Spring Gardens to St. Annes. Both operators now routed the 11C via Spring Gardens (between Kilnhouse Lane and Blackpool Road) and Fylde also diverted its journeys via Heeley Road and St. Davids Road North instead of Headroomgate Road. The evening and Sunday services were later revised to provide a bus every hour along each variant regardless of operator.

Blackpools workings were converted to single deck operation from February 1993 and Fylde's then followed suit by 1994 - the former with Deltas, the latter usually with rebodied Atlanteans. Sunday 13 November 1994 was to be the last day for the 11C as the following day saw its replacement by the 14/14A (Fleetwood to St. Annes).

The new routes reintroduced double deckers and conductors as the Fleetwood end of the 14 had never been converted to OPO. The 14 followed the Blackpool 11C route (Headroomgate Road) and the 14A the Fylde one (St. Davids Road North) - all journeys ran from Blackpool Transport's Rigby Road depot and 12 Atlanteans were needed. Evening and Sunday buses were OPO.
Trident 311 on a diverted Line 14 working in St. Annes in 2007 - these buses were dedicated to the route from 2002/3 to 2010 (Brian Turner)

March 2000 saw the end of conductor operation on the 14/14A (and indeed on Blackpool's bus network). The route was standardised with all journeys via St Davids Road North as service 14. The Metro network of April 2001 saw the St. Annes to Blackpool leg reduced to every 20 minutes with a 10 minute Blackpool to Fleetwood service operate. Atlanteans and Olympians ruled the roost until Tridents 301-316 arrived in 2002/3. These saw a minor change with Dawson Road no longer served, buses running up Leach Lane to the junction with Blackpool Road on their way to Spring Gardens. The evening service was withdrawn in February 2010 - though replaced by Coastal Coaches on contract to Lancashire County Council.
Delta 118 contrasts with 506's earlier picture at the Borough Boundary on new Line 17 28 July 2010 (Brian Turner)
From 26 July new route 17 replaced the 14 operating every 30 minutes (back to 1986 levels), extending to Lytham via Heyhouses. 5 buses provided a 30 minute frequency - 2 providing an hourly evening service and 3 provided a half hourly Sunday service to St. Annes only. Initially buses terminated at Albert Street in Blackpool, but later moved to Market Street. A mix of Deltas, Excels and Solos were used.

September 2010 saw the St. Annes to Lytham section jettisoned in favour of service 18, which was later replaced by Coastal Coaches 78. The 17 now used 4 Excels Monday to Saturday and 2 Solos in the evenings (with the 18) and 3 on Sundays. The evening service was withdrawn at the end of January 2011, Coastal Coaches won a tender for a replacement service but this only lasted three months. Also in January the full 17 was converted to Solos. Double deckers and Excels continued to appear with increasing regularity as time went on.
Excel 225 on the 17 at Market Street (Brian Turner)
In June 2015 the 17 was reduced to hourly, with the 10 (Blackpool to Midgeland Road) extended to St. Annes to retain the half hourly service on that section. In October 2015 the 17 was diverted via Lindale Gardens. Between April 2016 and April 2017 the 10 and 17 were extended from Blackpool to Poulton via Victoria Hospital replacing the 12/13 and were generally double deck operated. The 10 was withdrawn in April 2017 and the 17 returned to half hourly - with the Lindale Gardens diversion removed.

From the Archives: Route 12 - Lytham Road's Tram Replacement

Throughout the 1960s PD3s were the staple diet of service 12, though it was launched with PD2s until the first of the full fronted PD3s arrived in 1962. Swifts took over in 1974 but on 14 December 1981 PD3s appeared as their front engine offered greater adhesion - a sentiment presumably lost on the crew of 523 seen here stuck at the Airport (Brian Turner)
Blackpool Trams began operating along Lytham Road in 1895 initially to Station Road with a end on connection from 1896 with Gas trams to Lytham. Blackpool trams later ran the full length of Lytham Road to Squires Gate Airport but the line closed in October 1961. Replacement service 12 started on 30 October 1961. It started at Squires Gate - with the terminus opposite the Lytham St. Annes Bus depot then ran the length of Lytham Road, onto the Promenade and up Talbot Road to the Bus Station. The service was:
  • Summer - every 5 minutes (9 buses)
  • Winter - every 6 minutes (7 buses) except evenings/Sundays - every 8 minutes (5 buses)

Centre Entrance PD2s were not commonly associated with the 12 but here 210 is providing an unadvertised duplicate service 12A between Talbot Square and South Station to cope with summer loadings (Brian Turner)
Existing PD2s were used until the 20 new PD3s arrived during summer 1962 - after that the longer PD3 became the mainstay with PD2s - including the streamliners - providing unadvertised duplicate service 12A. The service frequency gradually eased with a 7 minute frequency in place by the 1970s. January 1973 saw the terminus move to the Airport Grounds and in May 1974 the service was converted to OMO operation using AEC Swifts. Daytime services used 7 buses at 7 minute intervals, evenings and Sundays saw a bus every 16 minutes with extra summer season journeys.
OPO operation with Swifts started in 1974. Now preserved 570 waits time at the Airport terminus (Brian Turner)
By 1977 the daytime frequency had dropped to every 10 minutes with a 20 minute evening/Sunday timetable in place. 1983 saw timetable revised with two journeys per hour replaced by Fylde's 11/11A - leaving the 12 providing 4 buses per hour at 10-20-10-20 intervals and no evening/Sunday service. Double deckers were now commonly deployed.

During the 1980s Atlanteans replaced the Swifts - here 356 loads at The Old Bridge - while the stop is blocked by brand new National 2 544 on its first familiarisation run. (Brian Turner)

Deregulation saw the frequency return to every 10 minutes with 4 Routemasters - crew operation allowed faster running times so the buses could - just - get round in 40 minutes. Evenings/Sundays saw OPO Double Deck buses run every 30 minutes.

In July 1987 the daytime 12 service was extended to St. Annes using 6 crew double deckers - RMs521-6 were supplemented by PD3s with 507 and 512 in the same red and white scheme as the RMs. November saw alternate journeys curtailed to terminate at the Airport but the evening/Sunday service was extended to St. Annes.

Routemasters were used from deregulation to garner a competitive advantage against Fylde's Blue Buses. 521 is chased down Talbot Road by Fylde 82 on the 11A (Brian Turner)
29 February 1988 saw the introduction of a supplementary minibus service providing a bus every 5 minutes from Blackpool to Highfield Road. The St. Annes service now ran every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at peak using crew double deckers. Evenings and Sundays - and some early journeys - used minibuses through to St. Annes on a 15 minute frequency.

City Pacer 550 is operating the new minibus version of the 12 introduced in February 1988. This later became service 12A (Brian Turner)
 August saw the minibus workings renumbered 12A and extended via Highfield Road, St. Annes Road, Halfway House to Lindale Gardens and back via Highfield Road. The offpeak  12 service ran every 15 minutes during the summer and this was then adopted year round from November. April 1999 saw the evening service revert to big bus operation with 2 Atlanteans or Olympians running every 30 minutes.

521 again leaving Blackpool Airport with an Easyway Leopard behind on route 53 (Brian Turner)
 From December 1991 the Routemasters were replaced by crew operated Atlanteans as several were now spare. March 1992 saw the 12 extended to Cleveleys replacing service 9. Optare Deltas took-over and 8 were required for the 15 minute daytime service and 4 for the half hourly evening/Sunday service. This followed Fylde's expansion of services with its 11 running from Lytham St. Annes to Cleveleys and the 11A following suit in May 1992.

With the two operators under common ownership, November 1994 saw the 12 drop to half hourly - co-ordinated with Fylde's 11/11A. The 12A was reduced to every 7/8 minutes. August 1996 saw the 12 converted to double deckers and the 12A coverted to single deckers with 5 operating every 10 minutes and  buses ran both ways via Lindale Gardens to terminate at the Morrisons Store at Halfway House - though the circular route was restarted in November 1996. A 6th bus was added quickly as the timetable provided too challenging.

PD3s 507 and 512 supplemented the Routemasters on the 12 - both carried the same red/white livery (Brian Turner)
 June 1998 saw one journey per hour daytimes on the 12 extend from Cleveleys to Freeport, Fleetwood via West Drive, Broadwater and Fleetwood Ferry requiring one more bus. This proved unreliable so it was diverted via Amounderness Way instead of Broadwater in December and was withdrawn in April 1999. Single deckers returned to the service in February 1999 following the conversion of the 12A back to minibuses in December - 5 Metroriders taking over.
Delta 107 on the extended service 12 near the Tower (Donald MacRae)

The new Metro network saw the 12 replaced by Line 11 from 30 April - this largely covering the 12 route, plus a diversion via Bispham Village with an extension to Lytham. Today the northern section is now route 9 while the Lytham Road service is now covered by a revised service 11.

The 12 was a regular haunt for demonstrators. Here East Lancs bodied Scania EMJ560Y loads in Talbot Road Bus Station alongside Atlantean 310 and Swift 579 (Brian Turner)


From the Archives: Service 14 - happy 90th Birthday


PD3 540 heads down Lord Street tram tracks on another run to Blackpool. PD3s were associated with the 14 from the mid 1960s to 1988 (Brian Turner)
The 14 is one of Blackpool's longest established bus service still running under the same number. It has provided unbroken service between Blackpool, Carleton and Thornton since 15th July 1927 and to Broadwater and Fleetwood since August 1929.
The 14 serves Carleton and crossed the railway line at 'Carleton Crossing' this could delay buses but the running time had an allowance built in (Brian Turner)
The route first ran between Talbot Mews (site of the later Talbot Road Bus Station) via Layton, Carleton, the Castle Gardens, Four Lane Ends to Crabtree Road at Burn Naze. Two buses were used on a 40 minute frequency. In August 1929 it was extended via Fleetwood Road, Queens Hotel, Poulton Road and Lord Street to Pharos Street. This incorporated route 11 which ran from Fleetwood Pharos Street to the Shakespeare Road Cemetery and had been started by William Smith in November 1924, and taken over by Blackpool Corporation in 1926.

The extended 14 ran every 30 minutes and needed four buses - usually 1928 built Leyland or English Electric bodied Leyland Lions 55 to 64. By 1930 an intermediate service was operated as far as Thornton Social Club (now the Bourne Poacher) and this showed number 14A. An off road reversing area was later provided here. The running time was later reduced to 39 minutes and three buses now provided the basic half hourly service and the newest single deckers tended to be allocated. It was not until 1939 that the route was upgraded to double deck operation.

Transport in the Fleetwood had polarised into two camps. Blackpool Corporation had purchased the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad in 1920 and Smith's local bus route in 1924, whereas Ribble had bought other local businesses and provided town services, routes to Cleveleys, Poulton and beyond. LMS Railway partly owned Ribble in those days and they also ran a Fleetwood to Blackpool railway service. Ribble perceived Blackpool's outer borough operation to be outside its remit and several battles ensued over the years. At one stage in 1937 a licensing irregularity with the 14 nearly saw Ribble step in with a replacement service but eventually the traffic commissioners found in favour of Blackpool.
PD3 529 in preservation parks on the former reversing area at Thornton Social Club - this was removed during a recent housing development (Paul Turner)
The argument led to route 14 being artificially restricted to a half hourly service for decades. Loadings justified more, but Blackpool was bound by a co-ordination agreement with Ribble buses between Castle Gardens and Fleetwood and could therefore not increase frequency. To address this most journeys on route 14 were duplicated and pairs of buses were used to provide the necessary capacity. The 14A also helped on the less contentious Thornton to Blackpool section and route 1 from Poulton provided further capacity from Castle Gardens to Blackpool.
Ribble and Blackpool - often in conflict - alongside each other in Talbot Road Bus Station. 503 is on the 14 stand which was in the centre of the Bus Station - note the hose on the pillar for topping up radiators! (Brian Turner)

The other end of the route - 538 is about to set off from Queens Terrace terminus (Brian Turner)
During World War II the 14 was curtailed to run hourly but the half hourly timetable was reinstated in December 1945. Earlier that year the Pharos Street terminus was replaced by Queens Terrace - just round the corner. The 14 settled down to routine stability. Centre Entrance PD2s replaced the pre-war examples used until the early 1950s, followed by rear entrance PD2s and later PD3s.
Atlantean 304 turns towards Blackpool at the Castle Gardens in Carleton (Brian Turner)
With the last PD3s arriving in 1968, attention then focused on buying one person operated single deckers for quieter routes and the 14's status as a prime route for new buses ended. It was a strong hold for PD3s until the late 1970s when Atlanteans started to run alongside. The odd Routemaster appeared from 1986 onwards. One person operation appeared on Sundays - certainly by deregulation but possibly earlier.

In 1975 agreement was reached to increase the frequency of the 14 and additional journeys started from 1115 to 1815 making a 10/20 minute interval with Ribble filling the gap to make a 10 minute service at the Fleetwood end. The 14A continued but was progressively reduced in operating period with the limited Sunday service first to go by 1973. In 1976 it ran from 1000 to 1800 every 30 minutes with one extra evening journey. 1977 saw the service dropped as a regular route, but the number remained for a few short journeys on the 14. 1980 saw a few extra journeys introduced in the morning peak to replace those provided by route 1 between Castle Gardens and Blackpool. One of the early evening journeys from Fleetwood was re-routed via Poulton, Grange Park and Victoria Hospital to arrive there at visiting time (1900) with Ribble route 183 providing the reverse working at 2000. Blackpool's journey showed number 29.

Sister 308  at Queens Terrace terminus (Brian Turner)
In June 1983 the 14 was retimed so that the 10/20 minute headway was replaced by a 15 minute one after 1100. Six buses were needed, reducing to three evenings and Sundays.

Deregulation (October 1986) saw no major changes to Blackpool's timetable, but new local operator Easyway started a peak hour and Saturday competing service using two buses on an uneven headway. This lasted a matter of weeks as some unusual behaviours saw Easyway lose its right to run bus services. Fylde later introduced a competing service from May 1988 operating every 30 minutes to Thornton (Monday to Friday) and onto Fleetwood (Saturdays/ Sundays). The weekday service ended in November 1988 and the Saturday/ Sunday service in April 1989. If this was not enough, North Western Road Car ran in competition between Blackpool and Thornton during summer 1988 (27 July to 3 Sept) using buses which ran into Blackpool on day trip services. Follow this link for a picture of North Western's 527 (FBV512W) laying over in Blackpool with displays for the 14.
Route Map, as drawn in 2011

Surprisingly in November 1987 Blackpool reduced the 14 to half hourly with the 14A reinstated to make a 15 minute service to Thorton, terminating at Trunnah Road. This used OPO Atlanteans with crew double deckers remaining on the 14. The Atlantean and PD3 mix remained until the end of PD3 operation in autumn 1988 though evening duties were now OPO. Blackpool responded to competition in two manners. Oddly it chose to duplicate Fylde's Sunday service (itself five minutes ahead of Blackpool's) with minibuses meaning a Fylde minibus, a Blackpool minibus and a Blackpool Atlantean departing within a five minute spell on a Sunday daytime. Minibuses also ran some positioning journeys for evening contracted services. Blackpool also duplicated North Western's weekday service to Trunnah Road.

In August 1988 the 14A was extended to the Social Club turning via West Drive, Amounderness Way and Bourne Way - rather than using the reversing point. Peak journeys were extended to Ash Street Fleetwood and showed 14B. The last return journey form Ash Street reinstated the 29 Hospital working which had ceased in November 1987 though it no longer served Poulton. 3 OPO double deckers were used, reducing to two off peak.

For 1989 the service settled back to normal with the competition over with a half hourly 14 supplemented by the 14A (off peak) and 14B (peak). Single deck operation returned to the 14 in October 1991 when Optare Deltas took over evening and Sunday workings. The 29 working ceased in March 1992.

November 1994 saw the introduction of a consolidated network following the takeover of Fylde. Route 14 saw its first extension since 1929 as it was merged with route 11C to St. Annes via Ansdell Road and Spring Gardens. Route 14A was absorbed with all journeys now running form Fleetwood through to St. Annes every 15 minutes (days) 30 minutes (evenings/Sundays). In St. Annes alternate buses ran via Headroomgate Road as 14 or St Davids Road North as 14A. 11 crew operated Atlanteans ran Monday to Saturday with 6 OPO buses evenings/Sundays - evening buses generally ran off route 22/22A at St. Annes and were initially Deltas but later Atlanteans or Olympians. In July 1995 the daytime service after 9am was extended from Queens Terrace to the new Freeport complex at Fleetwood using one extra bus on weekdays, though the Sunday service retained existing resources.

The five coach seated former Fylde Atlanteans ran on service 14/14A after Squires Gate Depot closed. This is 442. (James Millington)
In April 1998 the evening and Sunday service was increased to run every 15 minutes between Fleetwood and Blackpool with the short workings extending to Rigby Road Depot. Every evening 9 buses were used (six double deckers and three single deckers) as the long and short journeys interworked at Fleetwood Ferry. On Sunday daytimes, 6 double deckers provided the St. Annes to Fleetwood Freeport workings and 4 minibuses the Rigby Road to Freeport journeys. City Pacers were initially used but Metroriders soon took-over with Solos appearing in 2000.
Atlantean 358 on the 14 in May 2003 shortly before the second batch of Tridents entered service (Brian Turner)
Saturday March 25 2000 saw Atlantean 360 provide the final crew bus working as the 1850 14A from Fleetwood to St. Annes from where it ran empty to depot. Monday 27th saw the introduction of a 100% OPO timetable and the standardisation of buses on the 14A route via Heeley Road/St. Davids Road North under the 14 number. Rigby Road short workings now displayed 14A. Reliability problems saw some duplication and timetable changes saw extra running time allocated. The evening short journeys were withdrawn in August 2000 but the Sunday daytime ones remained.
Metro Line 14 branding on a dark green base (Brian Turner)

Trident 302 has arrived in St. Annes and will shortly turn to the photographer's left to start the terminal manoeuvre read to head back to Fleetwood (Brian Turner)
30 April 2001 saw the new Metro network debut. The 14 was revised to run every 10 minutes from Fleetwood to Blackpool and every 20 minutes to St. Annes. Evening/Sunday journeys ran every 30 minutes to St. Annes while on Sunday daytimes an extra 30 minute service ran from Tower to Fleetwood. 16 buses were needed on weekdays, five in the evening and 10 on Sunday daytimes. Atlateans 355-360/3/4 and Olympians 374-9 formed a dedicated pool. The Sunday Tower journeys were later cut back to Corporation Street matching the daytime shorts. From May 2004 they once again continued to Rigby Road.

Pool liveried Trident 317 heads out of Fleetwood on a short working to Blackpool (Brian Turner)
 From 9 Tridents were introduced normally on the St. Annes workings and from May 2003 a second batch allowed a 100% low floor guarantee to be introduced and Tridents were supported by Excels as required. A small diversion took buses further along Leach Lane in St. Annes to avoid the Tridents making the tight turns in and out of Dawson Road. February 2010 saw the withdrawal of the evening service between St. Annes and Blackpool.

Excel 222 standing in for a Trident arriving in Blackpool before heading back to Freeport (Brian Turner)
 The major network changes from 26 July 2010 saw route 14 diverted at Daggers Hall Lane to run to Mereside, replacing service 6. All buses ran Fleetwood to Mereside every 10 minutes weekday daytimes (17 buses), every 20 Sunday daytimes (8 buses) and every 30 minutes evenings (5 buses). The low floor guarantee was dropped and five Deltas were allocated along with 12 Tridents despite the near 100% low floor operation since 2003. The Deltas were withdrawn later in the year and Volvo B7s and the occasional Excel supplement Tridents and Olympians. From November 2010 the service has terminated at Queens Terrace once more with route 1 now serving Freeport instead.
Delta 125 stands at Freeport on the first day of the revised service to Mereside and the end of guaranteed low floor provision (Paul Turner)
From 2nd April 2013 the 14 was extended from Mereside Tesco to Peel Park DWP offices on Monday to Fridays, with every journey at peak times and alternate ones in between. This was funded by DWP for a three year period. In April 2016, on expiry of the funding the service was reduced to just four journeys.
Trident 346 at the Peel Park terminus on the first day (Brian Turner)
Route 14 entered the 'Palladium' era on 24 July 2016 when the Sunday service was converted using the first batch of new Enviro double deckers. November 2016 saw the frequency drop to every 12 minutes for the winter, with extra running time due to the increased traffic in the Layton and Norcross areas due to the closure of the Plymouth Road Bridge. 25 more double deckers arrived in spring 2017 and the new buses began to appear on the 14. A major network change saw the Mereside section detached and replaced by route 6 again. After 23 years of cross town operation, the 14 was back to running from Blackpool to Fleetwood only and once again had a fleet of brand new buses - its first since 2002/3. Its town centre termini were Corporation Street in Blackpool and Bold Street on Fleetwood - quite close to the original Talbot Mews to Queens Terrace route. Journey time is now 56/58 minutes - a significant increase to the 39 minute daytime journey time which lasted from the 1930s through to the end of crew buses in 2000.