Thursday, 31 March 2011


Solo 255 is now ready for service following its repaint after its recent damage. Two more ex line 11 Tridents 324 and 326 are now under repaint.

Solo 265 has now been withdrawn joining 261 to 263.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Monday 28th saw another Solo appear on route 11, this time 291 one of the two surviving Line 16 liveried examples

Solos are continuing to appear on 'big bus' routes with 291 the latest to appear on Line 11. 43 are required for the dedicated Solo routes and 54 remain active after the recent withdrawals allowing spares to appear elsewhere. 

Olympians continue to see all day service, 374 was out on the 9 on Monday.
Not previously reported was the return of Volvo 527 from Plaxton after accident repair on 14 March and it has since returned to service.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Delta Preservation

101 heads along Cambridge Road into Lytham on Line 7 deputising for an Excel in October 2009
Two Optare Deltas have joined the ranks of preserved Blackpool Buses. Numerically the first, 101 (G101NBV) has been purchased by Chris Lloyd - owner of Metrorider 510. 101 arrived in Blackpool on Saturday 17 March 1990 and was collected for preservation on Friday 18 March, a day over 21 years later.  It entered service on 23 March along with 102 having been beaten into service by 104-108. In November 1993 it received a full repaint - one of six so treated before the livery changed in 1994. Along with 102 it was transferred to Fylde in January 1995 and had its green skirt painted blue and green roof painted cream with a blue stripe. Numbered 8 in the Fylde series, it returned to the Blackpool fleet and Rigby Road depot in June 1996 - just before Fylde was closed down. It retained blue and cream until August 1996 when the blue areas were overpainted green.

The second version of Green and Cream was carried from 1996 to 2005 - 101 is seen here at Mereside Tesco terminus in February 2005
When Metro Coastlines started in April 2001, 101 was one of three Deltas allocated to Line 11, though it retained green livery and soon reverted to general allocation. April and May 2003 saw repairs to the rear end, much renewal of the floor and a seat retrim. It was not repainted into Metro black and yellow pool livery until August 2005. As such it saw a variety of duties, standing in for branded sisters on the 6 and 11; Excels on the 7 and regularly provided the Delta duty on the 2C. 
101 in Lytham on Line 11, where it regularly deputised for branded sisters
The mass cull of the Deltas during 2010 focused initially on the branded buses with the 6 and 11 buses withdrawn first. 101 survived until 28 October 2010 with a final duty on Line 11. 101 will be restored to green and cream in due course.
Former Fylde 3 is being purchased by LTT and will join a collection which ranges from a 1934 Lion to a 1993 rebodied Atlantean
Meanwhile LTT is purchasing 133 (H3FBT). This was new to Fylde in May 1991 in two tone blue livery and became 133 when Blackpool absorbed the Fylde fleet in July 1996. It briefly carried its new number in blue livery but was repainted into green and cream in August - the last bus treated at Squires Gate depot. A full refurbishment took place between August and November 2000 with the unique Fylde features replaced with standard Blackpool ones, including the new black magic moquette and internal laminates. Even a rear number display was fitted. A second repaint into green and cream completed the work. Surprisingly it was then selected for another repaint in April 2001, emerging in grey, mustard and yellow pool livery. October 2002 saw a further repaint into Line 11 colours - which it retains today. 133, like most of the Line 11 examples, was retired on 4 September 2010 - working Line 14 at 1720 from Fleetwood to Mereside as its final duty. It will be restored to Fylde guise, externally at least. 

133 was dedicated to the 11 from 2002-2010 having been allocated to it from 1991 to 1994 while with Fylde
The status of the 31 Blackpool Deltas is:
Preserved 101, 133
Blackpool Transport (stored): 102, 119, 122, 123, 125, 126, 132
Blackpool Transport (trainer): 129, 130 (as 969/70)
Preston Bus (trainer): 128
Kanes Foods, Evesham: 109, 127
Scrapped (Parton's, Barnsley): 103-108, 112-116, 118
Scrapped (Inglemere Metals, Blackpool) 124
Scrapped (Preston Recyclers, Red Scar) 110, 120, 131
Scrapped (Wrigley, Barnsley): 117

One Thursday in March

Trident 341 swings into St. Annes Square passing the old tram shelter - now the Clockhouse Cafe. This has recently received a commemorative blue plaque thanks to the Lytham Civic Society.

Contrasting with 341, is Solo 251 putting in a rare turn on the 11 on Thursday 24 March

Old and New Solos. Blackpool 269 of 1999 in front of Coastal 'Sir Stewart' YJ11EHF - this is the final one of the five new Slimline Solos bought for the 78.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Goodnight to the Night Bus

Sunday 27 March will see the end of Blackpool's least photographed bus service - the 27. This is the 'Night Tram' service which has remained as something of an anachronism - especially with the long winter closure of the tram route. It is presumed to have some statutory basis - though this is lost in the midst of time.

The bus has provided three journeys per day, most recently at 0030 Depot to Fleetwood Ferry (return 0105), 0325 Depot to Fleetwood Ferry (0405 return), 0446 Depot to Fleetwood Ash Street (return at 0520). For some time the latter diverted via Dickson Road to meet the an early train from North Station. The 0325/0446 did not operate on Sunday mornings. One driver covered all workings - the 'Night Depot Reserve' part of a small team of drivers on permanent stand by to cover no shows.

The 27 is normally Solo operated - as successors to the Metrorider and City Pacer, but it was not uncommon for high season weekend 0030 journeys to use big buses for capacity reasons!

The date of conversion of the service from tram to buses is not known - it was designated as a bus service in the 1970s timetables but may date from the 1960s. The number '27' has survived the introduction of the dedicated Promenade bus service 1 and the use of "111" as a tram replacement 'service'. The number reflects the extensive network operated during the 1970s when it was the lowest vacant number. In the early 1970s numbers 1-16, 19, 21-26 were in use for the main network, the 17, 18 and 20 were works services to the Guardian Royal Exchange offices in Lytham.

Other later additions to the service included:
  • 28 (Lytham to St. Mary's School from 1970s
  • 29 (single journey on the 14 Fleetwood to Blackpool diverted via Poulton and Victoria Hospital 1980-1988)
  • 30 (Starr Gate to Norcross works service - lasted until at least 1999, possibly until the Lifestyle Line started)
  • 33/36/39 - short lived minibus services in the 1970s
  • 34A/34B - Staff Buses from Bispham and Mereside to Rigby Road
The 31 and 33 were used for main services in the 1970s and 1980s respectively, but all that remains today are the 34A/B. PD3 and Swift destination blinds also included 32, 35 and 36 but it is not believed that these have been used in anger.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Anyone want a Solo?

Four former Blackpool Transport Solos have been advertised for sale on Ebay by MGP Vehicle Solutions, a Birmingham based vehicle dealer. They are for sale for £14,950 and the advert can be seen here: EBay Classified Advert. 261-263 have already been reported as withdrawn but the identity of the fourth is not yet known.

Withdrawn Deltas 102, 119, 123, 125, 126, 132, 133, 365 and 366 were noted at Jackson's Coaches yard in Marton today.

Presered Atlantean 343 has been sold for scrap. Repainted into late 1980s livery last year it suffered problems with its rear axle and has been used for spares for another vehicle. It was sent for scrap today. Atlanteans 334, 353 and 362 remain in preservation.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

263 withdrawn and Diversions

Optare Solo 263 has joined 261/2 in store following withdrawal yesterday. The Streetlite demonstrator has remained on service 10 this week but is understood to be departing shortly.

The extensive diversions to accommodate the Promenade road closures see the 11 diverted via Chapel Street as seen in the image below.
Trident 307 passes the King Edward VII on Chapel Street on diverted service 11

Friday, 11 March 2011

Spotlight on the Streetlite

Wright Streetlite demonstrator MX60GXB heads along Midgeland Road on service 10 on 11 March.
The Wrightbus Streetlite demonstrator has arrived in Blackpool as part of its nationwide tour of potential customers. This is a newly launched model that has already captured several orders. There are two varieties, ' door forward' with the door ahead of the front wheels and 'wheel forward' -like the demonstrator - having the door behind the front wheels Solo style. The demonstrator is a 33 seat example with the standard Cummins engine.

Of the indigenous Optare Solos 255 has recently entered the paint shop for a repaint into the new livery having been off the road following an accident.

The 10 now operates along Central Drive and the Streelite is seen here at the Gymnasium (14 March)

The demonstrator laying over at School Road (14 March)

The modern bus contrasts with a more primitive form of transport on School Lane (14 Mar)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Lifestyle Line

The second Lifestyle Line identity was blue and yellow as previously used on Line 10. The aim of the service was to link housing areas (such as Mereside here) with shopping, work and health facilities away from the Town Centre
Back in 2001 Blackpool Borough Council was awarded a grant a grant of £809,225 from the Department of Transport's Urban Bus Challenge. This was to purchase six Optare Solos and provide revenue support a new bus service from Morrisons near Halfway House to Norcross. Blackpool Transport was awarded the contract and the six Solos arrived during May/June 2002 and were initially kept in storage at the Council's Layton yard. They moved to Rigby Road in late June and the service commenced on 8 July. It started at Norcross and ran via Norcross Lane, Whiteholme Road, Ashfield Rd, Kincraig Road, Moor Park Avenue, Bispham Road, Plymouth Road, Garstang Road, Dinmore Avenue, Easington Cres, Dinmore Avenue, Tarnbrook Drive, Newton Drive, Hospital, East Park Drive, South Park Drive, Preston New Road, Kentmere Road, Langdale Rd, Clifton Rd, Tesco, Clifton Rd, Cherry Tree Rd, Midgeland Rd, Highfield Road, St. Annes Rd to Halfway House. Initially it terminated on Amy Johnson Way but was later extended into Morrisons. The route was largely new but helped replace services 8/9/10 linking South Shore and Mereside; and Mereside with Victoria Hospital which had been withdrawn a few months before.
The original Solos carried this uninspiring Blackpool Council livery, strangely devoid of promotional material for the new route with just the "Lifestyle Line" name carried.
A half hourly service was provided using four Solos until c2100 with an hourly Saturday service until c1900. The six buses were allocated fleet numbers 277-282 (YG02FWH, YG02FVP/R/S/T/U), but 277 remained in store as having two licensed spares was excessive. Buses carried the council red and cream livery with Lifestyle Line branding and the route was numbered L1

The L1 terminated on Blundell Street behind the Somerfield Store and adjacent to the bus and tram depot, here 278 heads up Hopton Road, where in a previous era vast numbers of express coaches would be arriving at the Coliseum Coach Station
A second successful Urban Bus Challenge bid in 2002 saw a further £865,600 awarded to Blackpool and Lancashire County Councils in partnership. This saw two more Solos arrive - owned by LCC according to legal lettering - as 283/4 (PN03UGG/H). The service was extended from 1 June 2003 from Norcross to Fleetwood with buses running from Rossall Point via The Esplanade, Queens Terrace, Dock Street, Freeport, Station Road, Copse Road, Stanley Road, Radcliffe Road (back Radcliffe Rd to Station Rd), Hatfield Avenue, Highbury Avenue, Poulton Road, Beach Road, Fleetwood Road, Amounderness Way, Victoria Road East, Alexandra Road, Belvedere Road, Hawthorne Road, Beechwood Drive, Fleetwood Road South, Norcross Lane and as before. The route was also extended from Morrisons via Squires Gate Lane, Lytham Road, Harrowside, Clifton Drive, Burlington Road West, Bond Street, Station Road, Lytham Road, Hopton Road, Blundell St to Somerfield Supermarket. Seven buses were now needed with a half hourly service Monday to Saturday until about 2200. An hourly Sunday service was also started. In addition to 283/4, 277 entered service on 1 June, but within a few days was re-registered PL03BPZ as it could now legitimately carry an 03 plate rather than the 02 one.

Minor route changes had seen a diversion via Fulwood Square and St Walburgas Road between Grange Park instead of Tarnbrook Drive and Newton Drive and the Hospital and, in January 2003, a short diversion to serve the Maternity Unit at the Hospital was introduced replacing Line 5.
Handybus liveried Solo 276 stands in for a defective branded Solo near Tesco in March 2004
The service continued to grow and it was necessary to introduce an extra peak journey at 0753 from Mereside to Norcross in November 2004. This was operated by a Line 15 Metrorider - a rare example of a scheduled allocation of a route branded bus to another service. Metroriders rarely appeared on other L1 journeys - Handybus and later pool liveried Solos were the common substitutes for 277-284. Further minor changes saw the L1 diverted via Acre Gate and Lennox Gate in December 2005 - to replace the 2A - and via the perimeter road at Victoria Hospital in May 2006.

Seeing double: Solo 289 on the routine workings overtakes Olympian 370 on the school peak working from Norcross to Manchester Square at Halfway House
Continued growth in passengers started to result in capacity issues around school and work peak times. As a result two school day only workings were added using double deckers from January 2007: 0835 from Hospital to Norcross using a bus from a St Mary's School special and 1532 from Norcross to Manchester Square. The L1 had improved in performance to such an extent that it could survive the end of the Urban Bus Challenge subsidy and by 2007 was commercially viable in Blackpool, but still required revenue support from Lancashire in Wyre.
It was decided to upgrade the service using larger 33 seat Solos to replace the original 29 seaters and relaunch the service as part of the Metro network. From April 2007 the service was rebranded as Lifestyle Line 16 with a new blue and yellow identity. The route was extended to start at Blackpool Market Street via the Promenade to Manchester Square. It was also extended into Blackpool Business Park; removed from Acre Gate and Lennox Gate. From Victoria Road East it was diverted into Cleveleys then via Rossall Road, West Drive, Fleetwood Road to take up its former route at Hatfield Road. It no longer ran into Freeport, however. A half hourly service ran during the day using 8 buses, while in the early evening and on Sunday an hourly service used four buses. The extra short workings continued, though oddly still as L1s for a while.

Brand new Solo 293 crests Plymouth Road bridge on its way to Blackpool in April 2007
Unfortunately not all of the eight new buses (286-293) were ready. On the first day 286-290 were in use and possibly 291 too. The other two workings used the L1 liveried buses one of which was 280. Unfortunately their electronic destinations had not been reprogrammed so these still showed L1! 292/3 entered service later in the week and the original Solos were progressively repainted into pool or line 2 livery. Extra peak running time was added in November 2008 and the three extra journeys at 0753 from Tesco, 0835 from Hospital and the 1525 ex Collegiate which used to be the 1532 from Norcross - were renumbered 116 to differentiate from the low floor workings. The 116 was progressively reduced with the afternoon journey going in April 2009 and the rest by February 2010.
September 2009 saw the section from Cleveleys to Fleetwood withdrawn as LCC awarded a contract to Stagecoach for a replacement service (74). Buses 286/7 were rebanded as Line 2 buses as a result. The route was also re-routed via Lytham Road rather than Bond Street/Clifton Drive. February 2010 saw the limited evening service withdrawn and the Saturday service reduced to hourly. With the end of route branding and the major network review from 26 July 2010 the 16 was radically changed as it now ran from Blackpool North Station via the former 2 route (Church St, Whitegate Drive, Waterloo Road) to Royal Oak, then along Bond St, Clifton Drive and Harrowside before running the full length of Highfield Road. It now missed out its original terminus at Morrisons. Its route to Cleveleys from Highfield Road was largely the same, save for a diversion via Fleetwood Road between Norcross and Thornton Four Lane Ends. 7 buses were needed for the half hourly Monday to Friday service and 4 for the hourly Saturday and Sunday service.
The circuitous nature of the 16 saw buses displaying Fleetwood heading down Lytham Road in completely the opposite direction than one would expect.
Although no longer known as the Lifestyle Line - the 16 is one of the few Urban Bus Challenge services to survive after its funding expired. It is still recognisable from its original service - save for the Morrisons to Highfield Road section, though it has seen several revisions. It also provides a replacement for the former Marton tram route with just two buses per hour (one at weekends and non in the evening) along Waterloo Road - a sad contrast to the era of a three minute tram service in the 1950s.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Miss Lucy

Coastal Coaches has now taken delivery of the first of its new Solos. Like its other vehicles it is named rather than numbered and Miss Lucy (YJ11EHB) is seen below on service 76 in Lytham earlier today (Saturday).
Three more Solos are in stock with YJ11EHC (Master Jack), YJ11EHD (Miss Ruby) and YJ11EHE (Master Peter) noted at the Warton depot on Sunday. Also present was one of the Enviros (KX57HME) and a plain white Solo (YJ60KFP)

Friday, 4 March 2011

A Bridge too Far

The closure of Skew Bridge to buses sees the 5, 11 and Stagecoach 68 diverted via Station Road, Bond Street and Watson Road. Excel 215 turns onto Station Road on route 11
Trident 339 is about to turn into Bond Street from Station Road

Excel 213 on Bond Street
Solo 250 passes the site of the former Bond Street Depot
Bond Street Depot building started life in 1923 as the Carnival Shop at Rigby Road Depot, building floats for Carnivals. In January 1942 it was relocated to Bond Street to allow the bus fleet to be dispersed in case Rigby Road succumbed to enemy action. It was used to store withdrawn buses until November 1954 and was later sold to Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It was demolished in September 1998 to provide more car park space.
Trident 324 turns out of Watson Road. This is one of only four Tridents to retain Line 11 livery

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Solos Retire

Solo 262 on the now discontinued section of Line 2 in front of Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Solos 261 and 262 have been withdrawn - the first of the type to go following the reduced requirement from the service changes at the end of January. They were the first two Solos to arrive - on 8 November 1999. They - along with 263 - were quickly licensed and spent November and December in use as type training vehicles. 261 was one of four to operate on the first day of Solo operation - 4 January 2000 when four entered service on route 33. 262 entered service the following day.

261 was the first Metro liveried Solo, repainted in March 2002 into Line 3 livery with 262 following soon after. Both later received black/yellow pool livery in April and May 2008 respectively when new Solos replaced them on Line 3. 

In other news service 20 has now been registered for the summer season, starting at Easter and operating between Marton Mere, Zoo and Blackpool Town Centre only. This reflects the introduction of a revised school holiday only City Sightseeing service from Blackpool to St. Annes.