Thursday, 29 September 2011

Volvo Olympian Update

Volvo Olympians 376 to 378 are now all in the Paint Shop at Rigby Road following the installation of seat belts by contractor Bus and Coach World at Blackburn. Both 375 and 379 remain at Blackburn for belt fitting. Correcting the previous post only one Isle of Man Trident is currently at Blackburn and this is believed to be their 53 (EMN53Y). Optare Delta 123 has become the latest to depart for scrap.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

News update [updated!]

Recent repaints 251 and 310 are now back in service as is Volvo 532 following repairs to rear end accident damage sustained in June. Delta 125 has left for scrap following 126 in July and 132 in June.

Also on Tuesday 27th Sept, Volvo Olympian 379 was noted in the yard of Bus and Coach World at Blackburn taking the place of 375 which was there on Monday and is now presumably inside their workshops. All six are being fitted with seat belts for school services with 376/7 treated first, followed by 375/8. It is believed the first of the Isle of Man Dennis Tridents is also on site under refurbishment while others remain in use on the Island.

Route 14

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
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 July 1927 and to Broadwater and Fleetwood since August 1929.
The 14 served Carleton and crossed the railway line at 'Carelton Crossing' this could delay buses but the running time had an allowance built in
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
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!

The other end of the route - 538 is about to set off from Queens Terrace terminus
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
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.

308  at Queens Terrace terminus
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 practise 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.

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.
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

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

Trident 302 has arrived in St. Annes and will shortly turn to the photographers left to start the terminal manoeuvre read to head back to Fleetwood
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
 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
 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 on the current service. 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

Monday, 19 September 2011

Lytham Diversions

Centro 525 turns into Clifton Street from Station Road  at the end of the route 7 diversion

At the East Beach end of Station Road Excel 213 squeezes past Centro 530 - both on diverted service 7

530 swings onto East Beach before heading to Saltcotes Road

Excel 213 turns off East Beach - this is normally served by route 11 but only in the opposite direction

Friday, 16 September 2011

Variations from a theme

A look at some of the non standard Blackpool bus liveries 
1979 saw two Swifts (581/2) painted in an experimental scheme with a green roof on the off-white body. Subsequent repaints received a green waistband too and 581/2 were modified to match in 1981

The PD3s had retained their plain cream or off-white scheme some time after the Atlanteans and Swifts had introduced more green. Unusually the oldest PD3, 390, was selected for this experimental scheme and it returned to use in April 1982 but was withdrawn in June 1983

540 was then repainted without the green lower window surrounds and 512 (as shown) without both the lower and upper schemes. 540 returned to use and was chosen as the standard livery so 512 returned to the paint shop to receive green upper window surrounds before in May 1982

Atlanteans 308 and 313 received green skirts on standard livery in 1984 - this was not adopted except for five sisters as part of a promotional livery for Service 6.

The last two Atlanteans, coach seated 363 and 364 arrived in this non standard livery and retained it until late 1988 when they received the then standard livery

The second batch of Routemasters, including 531, 527 and 529 here, carried a simplified version of the lined red and white livery for the 1988 season. They are seen in the bus compound on the day before the launch of Beachromer 55

Blackpool sold Atlanteans 317-321 to a new operator North Birmingham Buses in 1994. NBB duly adopted the Blackpool colour scheme with minor variations and in 2004 321 returned to Blackpool for display at a depot open day. The main difference is a green band below the lower deck windows

Not just a coat of paint

Variations in Altantean livery (the original on the right, the 1987-1994 scheme on the other two) during driver training exercises
In their 90 years Blackpool's buses have typically carried on of three colour schemes - red and white (applied 1921-1933 and to some vehicles from 1985-1994), green and cream (1933 to 2001) and black and yellow (1987 to date). The multi coloured Metro era from 2001 to 2010 complicates the story somewhat with 16 themed liveries (plus the Lifestyle Line) and there have been many variants of the traditional liveries too.

The original style red and white was re-adopted for the Routemaster fleet in 1986
The small Tilling Stevens buses that launched operations in 1921 adopted the tramway lined red and white livery and this maintained until 1933 when Walter Luff introduced green and cream with buses painted mainly green with cream window surrounds and bands. This was modified with the introduction of the first streamliners in 1936 to be cream with green bands above and below the lower deck windows, green roof and window surrounds. Further evolution took place with the 1949-1951 PD2s when the green roof was replaced by cream and again in the late 1950s/1960s when the green window surrounds and front 'V' were omitted leaving just two green bands. Single deckers featured green window surrounds, waistband and V - though the latter two were later omitted.
Preserved Titan 300 shows the second version of the streamline livery in this 1985 Tram Sunday scheme. Earlier buses had green roofs

The livery was later simplified with the green u/d window surrounds and front V removed

Rear entrance buses carried this simpler scheme - note the gap in the band on the rear which was to accommodate adverts though these were soon dropped.

The introduction of rear entrance vehicles in 1957 saw a more restrained livery of just cream with green band above the lower windows and green wings. The introduction of AEC Swifts reduced the green to just the wheels with the entire body cream. PD2s and PD3s soon adopted this on repaint.

PD3s later adopted all-over cream (then off-white) and from 1982 the livery carried by 540 in the middle

The original Atlantean livery of off-white with green roof, u/d window surrounds and two bands shown to effect on 305. There is some affinity with that carried by 300 above allowing for changes in the body style
1977 saw the arrival of the first Atlantean which adopted a livery not dissimilar to the pre war livery, but inspired by Southampton's scheme. The cream was replaced by off white and the shade of green was darkened. The buses had a green roof, upper deck window surrounds, green band above the lower windows and a deep green band on the lower side panels above and off-white skirt. Titans and Swifts adopted the off-white and in 1979 for the Swifts and 1982 for the Titans adopted a livery with more green as illustrated. Various experiments and variations took place:
  • 1979 - Swifts 581/2 received a green roof only before production Swift repaints featured green waistbands too
  • 1982 - PD3 390 received green roof and window surrounds, 540 green roof, u/d window surrounds and band above l/d windows and 512 as 540 but with off-white u/d windows. 540s livery was adopted, 390 kept its variation but 512 was modified to match 540
  • 1984 - Atlanteans 308 and 313 experimentally received a green skirt - 302/3/16/7/21 were also treated in 1985 with orange and yellow strips as a promotional livery for route 6
  • 1984/1986 - Nationals received a green skirt on the Swift/Lancet livery

Swifts and Lancets (such as 596 here) carried a version of the livery with a green roof and waistband - Nationals were similarly treated with the addition of a green skirt
1986 saw the re-adoption of red and white for the Routemaster fleet following its reappearance in 1985 on PD3 507 to mark the tramway centenary. RMs 527-31/3 of 1988 carried a simplified version initially but adopted the full lined scheme that winter. PD3 512 was also so painted as was ex Eastbourne open topper 532.

Olympians 365-367 launched the new livery in March 1987 reintroducing the pre-1978 shades
March 1987 saw the repaint of ex West Yorkshire Olympians 365-367 and Atlantean 316 into a new livery using the pre 1978 shades. The roof, upper deck and lower deck windows and skirt were green. The Atlanteans, the new Olympians of 1989 and PD3s 503 and 532 were so treated. The Nationals received a green roof and skirt and the Lancets similar but with green window surrounds too. May saw the introduction of black and yellow for the 'Handybus' Optare City Pacers, the yellow skirt being the sole relief for the black body.

The current black and yellow livery is influenced by the 1987 City Pacers - between 1986 and 2010 Blackpool did not have a single standard livery with three schemes for different types (Routemasters in red, minibuses in black and big buses in green) until 2001 and later varying by route under the Metro banner
The introduction of the Optare Deltas in 1990 included black side window surrounds as part of their livery and this was adopted by Atlanteans from 1992. Late 1994 saw the adoption of the former Fylde livery style of cream with green skirt and roof level side band. Window surrounds remained black. Olympians 374-9 were the only buses delivered new in this scheme. The Handybus livery was modified on new Metroriders to feature a yellow roof level band. September 1998 saw Metrorider 589 outshopped in a reversed Handybus livery of yellow with black skirt and roof band which was adopted for repaints and new Metroriders 505-518. Prior to this in 1996 the Optare Excels had arrived in all-over yellow but the second Excels and first Solos adopted the same livery as the Metroriders.

The post 1994 livery, influenced by Fylde's style but in Blackpool's colours is demonstrated by Atlantean 351

Delta 105 demonstrates the single deck version.
Repaints into these liveries ended with 327 in February 2001 which uniquely omitted its black window surrounds. The new Metro liveries emerged with the launch of the new network in April. All featured a yellow base with a route colour front 'wedge' and lower panels towards the rear of the bus. Black was intended to be the Line 2 scheme, but was adopted as the generic fleet livery in 2003 with the arrival of Tridents 317/8. Prior to this a grey, yellow and olive livery was used. The Metro liveries lasted until July 2010 when the current livery was adopted - the fourth version of black and yellow to be adopted over a 23 year period.

Three Metrorider liveries in 2004. 596 in the centre retains its original scheme, 588 to the right carries the post 1998 mainly yellow scheme and 593 the original Metro pool livery of olive, yellow and grey.
Black and yellow first appeared on big buses in 2003 when Tridents 317/8 arrived so painted as the first buses in the new Metro pool livery. This was also applied across the fleet to Metroriders, Solos, Deltas and Olympians

Back to Original on the 11

Centro 528 passes the end of Seafield Road on diverted route 11 on Thursday
Warton Street in Lytham is currently closed for resurfacing and Blackpool Transport routes 7 and 11 - and Coastal 76 and 78 are subject to diversion. The 7, 76 and 78 divert at Lytham Hospital via East Beach and Station Road to reach Clifton Street and resume their normal route into Lytham. The reverse is observed on eastbound journeys. Route 11, however, has an unusual diversion which not only avoids the St John's Church terminus and Lytham Hospital, but also Church Road too in one direction. The temporary arrangements see the buses towards Lytham turn from Church Road into Fairlawn Road, left onto West Beach then East Beach, Station Road and Clifton Street to Lytham Square from where the established route is adopted back to Grange Park. This has shades of the original 1930s route of the 11 which used used Seafield Road (the other side of the playing fields to Fairlawn Road), West Beach and Dicconson Terrace to reach Lytham Square avoiding the single line section of the erstwhile tramway on Church Road.

While most long term diversions associated with regeneration and the tramway upgrade have ended, recent short term roadworks related diversions have created some interesting routings. Presently Norcross Lane is closed so route 15 is serving the narrow Bispham Road between Whiteholme and Castle Gardens - a road which once experienced a mini bus war between Archway Travel P11 and Fylde 6A between Poulton and Victoria Hospital! Route 16 has used Sevenoakes Drive and Amounderness Way instead of Norcross Lane and Fleetwood Road.

In late September Fleetwood Road will be closed between Norcross Lane and Castle Gardens in the evenings and the 15 will follow the same diversion as above. The 14 will need to run via Poulton, Breck Road and Amounderness Way.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Olympians in the news

Olympian 365 back in use with Metro decals removed. Along with 403 it ran on route 20 on Sunday 11th September (Tony Caddick)
376/7 - the first two Volvo Olympians to be fitted with seat belts have returned from Bus and Coach World at Blackburn and have been replaced by 375 and 378. Despite earlier suggestions the buses have not been repainted. Older Olympian 365 returned to use on Thursday 8th September.
Refurbished Excel 221 returned to use today on the 2/2C. It retains pool livery.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Round Up

Olympian 403 has returned to service for the start of the school term. Unlike most of its sisters it retains Metro Line 1 branding. Current repaints are Solo 251 and Trident 310 - this is the first Line 14 bus to lose its route livery and is being repainted after suffering front end accident damage recently.

The City Sightseeing service went out on a low on Sunday 4 September with Olympians 373 and 379 standing in for the open toppers.

Illuminations diversions have resumed, most operating every Saturday as well as weekdays in October half term week. There are two diversions - one in the Town Centre as follows:
Routes 10 and 11 divert at Manchester Square via Tyldesley Road, Rigby Road and Central Drive. They are joined by routes 5, 7, 14 and 17 via Central Drive, Albert Road, Cookson Street, Talbot Road to either Market Street or Clifton Street. On southbound journeys from Market Street they all serve Church St, Corporation St, Talbot Road, Dickson Road, Springfield Road, Lark Hill Street, Grosvenor Street, Church Street, Park Road, Reads Avenue, Central Drive with the 10 and 11 continuing via Rigby Road to Manchester Square.

The second diversion is in Bispham where the 3, 4 and 15 divert at Warbreck Drive via Cavendish Road, Devonshire Road to Bispham Roundabout with the 4 then serving Red Bank Road and Norcliffe Road to Norbreck. Southbound buses serve Northgate rather than Cavendish Road and also divert in the Town Centre from Pleasant Street via Road, Larkhill Street, Talbot Road, to Clifton Street.

Finally route 1 is extensively revised. Sunday to Thursday evenings sees the route divert at Manchester Square via the 10/11 diversion route to Talbot Road then Dickson Road to Gynn. Southbound buses run from Gynn via Dickson Road, Springfield Road, Larkhill Street, Grosvenor Street, Park Road, Reads Avenue, Central Drive and Rigby Road.

On Friday and Saturday (and October half term week) the 1 is curtailed after switch on to run Little Bispham to Fleetwood only - though with no timed connections or through fares with the tram service. It is understood the service turns onto Fleetwood Road at Anchorsholme then via Norbreck Road and Shore Road to Little Bispham.

Olympian 415 on route 1 duplicate on 31 August 2011

Route 20 still sees regular appearances by older Olympians including 416 on 1 September.
New liveried 379 heads back to Blackpool on the City Sightseeing Service on 4 September