Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Lights Diversions in Camera

Enviro 412 at the temporary Friday/ Saturday evening terminus for service 11 on Abingdon Street on 14 October (Brian Turner)
Solo 294, still carrying the Resort Hopper advert, stands at the temporary terminus of service 2 in the pedestrianised  St John's Square (Brian Turner)

Heritage livery 524 on route 17 stands at the temporary stop with a pair of double deckers on the 15 and 7 behind. The 15 is working the first of two evening journeys on service 15 that terminate at Harbour Hospital near Mereside - this was the 1900 departure on Saturday. (Brian Turner)

November changes update

Timetables are now on-line for the 5 November service changes. A few updates to previous posts are needed.

The 3 will still serve Faraday Way at peak times, three buses towards Cleveleys in the morning will run as the new route to Briarwood Drive then right onto Kincraig Road, left onto Faraday Way and Whiteholme Road back to Ashfield Road and the equivalent will do the reverse in the afternoon. Unfortunately this results in some clashes with service 4 over the common section from Bispham to Blackpool. 

The new 18 route is confirmed as Town Centre, Church Road, Whitegate Drive, Waterloo Road, Lytham Road, Squires Gate Lane, St. Annes Road, Highfield Road, Midgeland Road, Cherry Tree Road, Clifton Road to Tesco. 

The new 19 is pretty much the traditional 15 route along Church Road, Newton Drive, Victoria Hospital (outpatients - the traditional stop), Staining Road to Staining turning circle.

The diverted 7 will use Kilnhouse Lane and Highbury Road between Queensway and Clifton Drive. Extra time is also provided on the 17 to allow for diverted car traffic via Queensway. The 2C and 17 are no longer interworked on Sundays, the 2C now has a faster schedule.

Overall the network will require 95 buses, by my calculations v 110 now. The difference is:

  • 3 bus on service 1 for the winter timetable
  • 3 buses from service 20 which is suspended for the winter
  • 1 bus for the withdrawn section of the 2 to Cleveleys
  • 1 bus on the 3 and 4
  • 6 buses for the revised timetables on 6 and 14 (2 each) and 7 and 9 (1 each)
  • 2 buses from the replacement of 15/16 with 18 and 19
  • with 1 extra bus on the 17.
It is not clear yet whether any buses will be sidelined for the winter - indeed some may be withdrawn for disposal as the new Enviro 400s will replace them in the spring after their rail replacement work is complete.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Enviro Demo returns

The Enviro 400 demonstrator SN66WLK has returned to Blackpool. Previously here in February, it was noted in use yesterday and today on service 1. The latest batch of new buses is up to 443 (SN67WKH) delivered, with the next expected as 444 (SN67WKJ).

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Rail Replacements

The rail replacement timetables have now been published starting on Saturday 11th November and lasting until 28 January - this is when the Blackpool South line reopens and a revised bus replacement service will be provided from Blackpool North.

Blackpool North to Preston Fast
This non stop serve runs every 15 minutes from 0630 until 2345 from Blackpool (0715 to 2345 Sundays), returning from Preston 0630 until 2345 then 2359 (0930 to 2345 Sundays). Journey time is scheduled for 50 minutes, regardless of the time of day and depending on layover at least eight buses are needed.

Blackpool North to Preston via Layton, Poulton-le-Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham
Also every 15 minutes. Monday to Friday Early morning trips call at Poulton only leaving Blackpool at 0430, 0457, 0530. Full Monday to Saturday service starts 0630 and runs until 2345 then 2359. Sundays runs 0715 to 2345, then 2359.
From Preston starts 0630 and every 15 minutes to 0845, then 0915 and every 15 minutes until 2345 then 2359. Sundays runs 0945 to 2345. A 65 minute round trip means at least 10 buses.

Poulton to Preston Fast
On Monday to Friday, extra peak buses run from Poulton at 0630 and every 30 minutes until 0930 and from Preston between 1600 and 1900 with a 40 minute journey time. This should need 3 buses. 

The above services are all understood to be run by Blackpool Transport.

Blackpool South will be served by two patterns - an hourly all stations service and peak fasts calling at Preston, Lytham, St. Annes and Blackpool South only:

  • from Preston 0550, 0650, 0745 +60 to 2145, 2250 plus Mon to Friday extra fasts at 1544 1644, 1744 and 1844
  • from South at 0438, 0538, 0628 +60 to 1928, 2014, 2114, 2228, 2328 and Mon-Fri fasts 0550, 0650, 0750 and 0850
  • There is no Sunday service

It is not clear if BTS will provide these too. 4 buses would be needed for the stopping service and 2 more for the expresses.

Some overnight services operate - with some running through from Manchester. Again its not yet clear who will provide these.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Solo Disposal Update

The 6 Solos sold to Tappins have been confirmed as 251/2/4/6/8/60. 251/6 left on Sunday with 254 the previous Saturday.

Tappins is one of a number of firms associated with Weavaway in Newbury and 258 has emerged in the associated Newbury and District livery and has been reregistered C19TCL. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

New Enviros Arrive

The first three of the new batch of 20 Enviro 400 Cities has arrived with 436 to 438 now in stock. 436 is confirmed as SN67WZA. SN67WZB/C/D are also registered and it seems likely these will be 437 to 439.

On the debit side, stored Solo 252 left today to Tappins Coaches, Didcot, joining sisters 258 and 260. Much earlier disposal, 271, has surfaced with Colchri Coaches, Paisley, after disposal by Halton Transport - flickr photo.

Elsewhere Catch 22 has reinstated Versa YJ61JHE, while Dart W365VHB has been withdrawn. Several of recent the Y---GAX ex Cardiff Darts have had 'Coastliner 21' stickers applied to their orange livery. This hasn't stopped regular appearances on the 24, mind you the 24 branded Versa has also been seen on the 21!

Friday, 6 October 2017

Blackpool Transport Service Changes

Details of the 5th November service changes have now been published. Winter frequencies are introduced on the 1 (30 instead of 20), 6 (15 not 12), 7 (20 not 15), 14 (12 not 10). Route changes comprise:

  • 2 - withdrawn between Poulton and Cleveleys
  • 3 - Faraday Way section withdrawn, will run via Kincraig Road/Briarwood Drive as previously
  • 7 - due to closure of Squires Gate Lane bridge, diverted between Halfway House and Clifton Drive via Squires Gate Lane, Common Edge Road, Queensway - its not clear yet if it will use Kilnhouse Lane/Highbury Road.
  • 11 - again due to bridge closure, diverted via Station Road, Promenade, Clifton Drive. 
  • 15/16 withdrawn
  • New 18 - Town Centre to Mereside Tesco every 30 mins M-F, hourly Saturday/Sunday
  • New 19 - Town Centre to Staining via Hospital every hour, it is understood this will run via Newton Drive, and not serve the Zoo/Stanley Park

Time will be taken out of route 9 to reduce need to wait time, while the 17 will get more time due to likely congestion around Queensway due to traffic diversions.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Exit the 15/16; enter the 18 and 19

The winter timetable from 5th November will see the end of the Southern Circular 15/16 with new route 18 operating from Blackpool to Mereside via South Shore and new route 19 linking Blackpool and Staining. The Southern Circular has been disrupted by significant diversions due to long term roadworks on Highfield Road, and the recent closure of Harrowside bridge which has led to its diversion onto Squires Gate Lane - unfortunately that bridge is also planned to close in November as well! 

Other services will also see change. The 7, 11 and Stagecoach 68 will be diverted away from Squires Gate Lane, while timetable changes will affect most services.

The first of the new Enviro 400s has been observed at Alexander Dennis at Falkirk with a minor livery variation with some yellow relief under the windscreen.

The Rail Replacement Bus Service starting on Satuday 11th November between Blackpool North to Preston is understood to form two routes with a non stop bus and an all stations (Layton, Poulton and Kirkham & Wesham) service both operating every 15 minutes. These will be run by Blackpool Transport. An hourly service will run all stations from Blackpool South to Preston with some peak extra limited stop ones. It is understood these are not being provided by Blackpool Transport.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

California Dreaming

Former Fylde 53/Blackpool 453 - is now a feature at Spark Social in San Francisco - a food 'truck park' (Spark Social Facebook)
Its intriguing what turns up. A chance search of the California pages of opentopbus.net showed WRH294J as moving to San Francisco in 2016. It was sold for export by Ensignbus in 2004, having acquired it from MacTours. It was new in December 1970 to Kingston-upon-Hull Corporation for whom it ran until 1987. It was one of 22 Hull buses bought by Fylde between 1986 and 1988, arriving in late July 1987. It entered service as 125 and was withdrawn in 1989 with several of its sisters. Following the success of the conversion of sister 122 (TKH266H), 125 was selected for conversion to semi open top and returned to use so modified in June 1990 on the newly branded Coastliner Promenade service 1 in a Granada Studios Tours advert livery.

It ran each season on the Promenade service until 1998. It received a new fleet number of 53 for the 1991 season. In 1992 it was converted to single door with the centre exit removed and a new Pleasure Beach advert applied. For 1995 it received a new advert for Seagull Coaches. 1996 saw Fylde absorbed into the Blackpool fleet and 53 became 453 and gained green and cream fleet livery for the 1998 season. After 11 years on the Fylde, 453 last operated on 23 October 1998. It was stored though 1999 and in February 2000 was sold to Mac Tours of Edinburgh where it operated until 2002. Mac's was purchased by Lothian Buses in May 2002 and it briefly became their bus 34, until sale to Ensignbus in July 2002. After a period in store, it moved to Southampton in April 2004 for shipping to USA - with British Bus Sales of San Diego. From there the trail went quiet until 2016, but an on-line sales listing suggest it spent the intervening time with a film studio as a prop.

Photos of it in 2016 and 2017 show it still in Mac livery and still with a Fylde moquette driver's seat! Interior layout has been modified, the roof removed form the rearmost of the three retained bays and the centre exit opened out once more.

Newly acquired from Hull, Fylde 125 turns at Saltcotes Road in 1987 (Brian Turner)

453 on 19 May 1998 turning into Pontins forecourt on service 1 (Brian Turner)

53 with Mac Tours in 2001 - the livery it still carries today.

The Return of 364

Saturday 23 September marked the event debut of Blackpool's 64th and last new Atlantean after restoration by Blackpool Transport. Rather disappointingly the fleet number has been changed to 864 - its internal fleet number - a small point maybe a shame given the otherwise good attention to detail (Paul Turner)
This weekend has seen the annual 'Anniversary Weekend' events hosted by Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours, focusing on the heritage tram fleet but supplemented by a free bus service which this year ran from Blundell Street to the Airport and back. Plans to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Blackpool Atlanteans on the Saturday were hampered by the withdrawal of the two of the five buses, 353 had a fault, while 71 failed on the morning with an air system problem. The morning started with Fylde Atlantean 45 on the 1000, Swift 554 on the 1015 standing in for 71, Atlantean 362 on the 1030 and Olympian 374 on the 1045. After lunch 374 was swapped for Atlantean 364. This was Blackpool's last Atlantean by two measures - its last to arrive in 1984 and last to operate in 2009. After a couple of years of rallying it was set aside in 2011 and more recently has been overhauled and repainted into its original livery. It has now returned to occasional use, starting with a private hire earlier this month.

364's history was told on this blog in 2014 -click here for the post. Sunday saw 45, 362, 374 and 554 work the service.

554 posing at the Airport as a 12 to Talbot Road Bus Station - the former terminus is long since remodelled, but here is a link to a post showing various vehicles at the former terminus (Paul Turner)

554 at South Pier - the former 23A terminus (historic photos) (Paul Turner)

Fylde 75 pipped 364 to the post as the last Atlantean to enter service back in October 1984. It later became 45 and is now preserved as such (Richard Hughes) 
Another last? Well 362 was the last of the conventional bus seated Atlanteans in 1983, before the final coach seated pair (Richard Hughes)

364 again at Blackpool Airport (Richard Hughes)

Olympian 374, back in Blackpool for the weekend (Richard Hughes)

Thursday, 21 September 2017

40 Years of Blackpool Atlanteans marked at Anniversary Weekend Event

Newly restored Atlantean 364 will be in use this weekend (Paul Turner)
This weekend sees the now annual Blackpool Heritage Trams Anniversary Event. A 15 minute frequency will run from Blundell Street to Squires Gate Airport on both days. Buses leave every 15 minutes from 1000 to 1645 from Manchester Square with stops at Pleasure Beach and Starr Gate.

Saturday will be popular with Atlantean lovers as no less than five are expected to be in use on the day, 40 years after the first Blackpool Atlantean arrived.

  • Blackpool 353 UHG353Y of 1982 (sadly now withdrawn due to defect)
  • Blackpool 362 A362HHG of 1983
  • Blackpool 364 B364UBV of 1984 - making its public debut following restoration - though it has done at least one private hire
  • Fylde 71 (OJI4371), of 1977 - celebrating its own 40th birthday
  • Fylde 45 (B75URN) of 1984
Blackpool Volvo Olympian 374 will also be in service in the morning, replaced by 364 in the afternoon. 

Sunday will see four buses in use with Atlanteans 45 and 362; Olympian 374 and AEC Swift 554. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

County Council Christmas Present

Lancashire County Council is proposing an expansion of its tendered service budget by £1mn to reinstate some links lost during economies made by the previous regime. The new services, subject to approval by cabinet and suitable tenders for operation will be introduced on 10th December. Those affecting the Fylde Coast are:

  • 75 - re-routed between Thornton and Fleetwood to service Pheasants Wood and Cleveleys - increased to hourly
  • 75A - withdrawn (covered by 75 and 76)
  • 76 - reinstated operating every 2 hours from Lytham to Blackpool via Wrea Green, Kirkham, Elswick and Great Eccleston
  • 80 - replaced by 77/77A increased to hourly between Preston and Great Eccleston via Inskip and Elswick - then 77 every 2 hours to Blackpool (making a combined hourly service with 76) and 77 every 2 hours to Myrescough
  • 89 Knott End to Lancaster - minor timing changes

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Happy Birthday Blackpool Transport - 125 Years - the oldest municipal

2016 bus, 1985 tram - just two of the many eras of Blackpool Transport (Brian Turner)
On 10th September 1892 Blackpool Council commenced operation of the Blackpool Tramway having purchased it from the private company that had operated it since 1885. Today therefore marks 125 years of continuous municipal transport operation in Blackpool. Municipal operation of local transport commenced in Huddersfield in 1883. Prior to this councils were able to construct but not operate tramways, but Huddersfield couldn't find an operator so were granted permission for in house operation. More authorities followed suit by taking over the companies which developed local transport. 

Since the 1960s most local authority operations have been privatised or reorganised out of existence, Huddersfield for example becoming part of West Yorkshire PTE in 1974 and today there are ten survivors Great Britain, but non have been operation as long as Blackpool. We believe Blackpool may well even be the world's oldest municipal tramway operator as we cannot identify any others at least in Europe or America. Do you know better?

In 1892 Blackpool Council had ten tramcars on a single route. The network and fleet grew to around 200 cars in the 1930s when Walter Luff introduced his modernisation plan. The first buses joined the fleet in 1921 and the bus fleet had grown to 158 in the 1930s, helped by the closure of two tram route sections. The remaining town routes closed in 1961-1963, so the tram fleet dropped to 119 in 1965 with 178 buses making 297 vehicles. Contraction saw the fleet size dwindle to 108 buses and 81 trams when deregulation occurred in 1986. A new company - Blackpool Transport Services Ltd - was formed to take over the transport department, but remains 100% owned by Blackpool Council.

Neighbour Fylde Transport was bought in May 1994. Originally a private tramway opened in 1896, it was bought by St. Annes Council in 1920 which became Lytham St. Annes Corporation in 1922 and Fylde Borough Council in 1974. It was privatised by sale to its management in December 1993 but was quickly bought by BTS thus reverting to municipal ownership. This brought the bus fleet to its peak of 214 buses when the two operations merged in July 1996. Since then as much rationalisation of services; withdrawal from most school work and closure of Seagull Coaches the fleet is now 132. The tramway was completely modernised from 2009 to 2012 and now has a fleet of 16 low floor trams, supported by 9 little used 'B fleet' Balloons and a heritage fleet of over 40 trams.

The bus fleet is now under going a major modernisation with a plan to replace the entire fleet by 2020 and no doubt will continue for many years. Happy birthday!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Solo Sales

Solo 258 departed on Tuesday for Tappins of Didcot, sister 260 and three others are expected to follow. Earlier disposal, 253, has been confirmed with Swanbrook of Cheltenham as shown here.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

BTS Fleet Plan

Blackpool Council has approved further borrowing by its subsidairy Blackpool Transport to upgrade its fleet. Recent upgrades have seen 35 new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 Cities join 10x 2015 Mercdedes Citaros. The plan is to acquire 72 further buses:

  • 20 buses in October 2017 - these will be more double deckers for the winter rail replacement at a cost of £4,659k (£233k/bus)
  • 4 buses in March 2018 at £934k (£233.5k/bus)
  • 18 buses in October 2018 at £2,997k (£166.5k/bus) suggesting midibuses to replace the 22 Solos
  • 15 buses in March 2019 at £3,558k  (£237k/bus)
  • 15 buses in March 2020 at £3.635k (£242k/bus)
The resulting fleet would comprise:
  • 89 Double Deckers from 2016-2020
  • 18 Midibuses from 2018
  • 10 Single Decker Citaros from 2015
  • 9 refurbished Single Decker Volvos from 2010
The fleet total would be 126 compared to the current service fleet of 132 reflecting improved efficiency from a new standardised fleet and would adequately cover the current 107 peak vehicle requirement. In addition to the 22 Solos; 32 Tridents, 19 DAFs and 5 Volvo B7RLEs are to leave the fleet.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

On This Day in 1987 - 26 becomes Handy

A common sight for the late 1980s and early 1990s was one or a pair of City Pacers waiting time at Clifton Street on the high frequency 26 service (Brian Turner)
Blackpool introduced the Handybus brand on a batch of five minibuses in May 1987, occupying them from June on a new service in St. Annes. A second batch was ordered and these were to convert service 26. This seemed to be a response to Fylde introducing a half hourly service 26 overlaying Blackpool's 15 minute service in late August. A week later Blackpool's 26 rose to every 5 minutes needing 9 minibuses.

Handybus Route 26 from 5 September 1987 on which City Pacers ran until August 1996
13 new City Pacers were ordered, but perhaps at short notice as only two were in stock at the start of September! To make up the numbers, a batch of Ford Transits was borrowed from Midland Red North and mainly ran on the St. Annes route to release the City Pacers for the 26. 

Day one saw new City Pacer 549; existing ones 560, 562, 563, 564, Optare Demonstrators D854MUA and D898NUA which now joined the fleet as 565/566 and sister D81NWW, plus Transit 381 (C41WBF). The remaining new City Pacers, 550-559, 567 and 568 arrived and entered service over the next two months

The Ford Transit was a common choice for early minibuses, but were not the easiest to board - Midland Red North C40WBF is covering on service 26 (Brian Turner)

With the Transits dispatched back to the Midlands, the 26 settled down to regular City Pacer operation. 9 buses provided the daytime service with three in the evening and on Sundays. The route remain unchanged, save for an unusual evening diversion via Watson Road to serve the Ice Drome which ran from August 1988 to March 1992. The latter date also saw the frequency eased to every 6 minutes (8 minibuses). November 1994 saw the evening service terminus move to Cookson Street. 

After nine years, routine City Pacer operation ended on 5 August 1996 the route was converted to single deck operation. Minibuses - mainly Metroriders resumed on 7 December 1998 and lasted until the end of the 26 on 7 April 2002.

A 5 minute daytime and 15 minute evening/Sunday service was provided - note the promotional maximum fare for the first weekend

The evening Ice Drome extension took service buses through the Watson Road underpass  for the first and only time

566 - one of two demonstrators purchased in August and after a brief period in use in plain white received Handybus colours. Here 566 is about to turn into Clifton Street from Talbot Road passing much earlier generation PD3 507 (Brian Turner)

Transit C40WBF once again - this time at South Pier (Brian Turner)

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Round Up

'Customer Shuttle' is the unusual destination display on Solo 247 on 1st September. This was providing the link between New Bonny Street and Talbot Road while the 5. 6 and 7 were split due to the Illuminations Switch On events (Shaun C)
Blackpool Transport 366 suffered a fire at the rear of the vehicle on 30 August when running back to depot from Lytham. No word on its future yet.

A further ex Cardiff Dart has joined the catch 22 fleet - Y378GAX - and it is understood that the three Versas are no longer in service.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Lion Roars Around Lytham

Lytham St. Annes Leyland Lion 24 starred at Monday's RVPT running day. 24 was new in 1934 as a demonstrator and joined the Lytham fleet the following year, running until 1957. An early preservation project, it ended up in Canada in the 1970s, falling derelict. Rescued in 1999 and returned to the UK, an extensive restoration followed. It is seen here approaching Lytham Hall in an idyllic country scene (Brian Turner)

The characteristic rear entrance is shown to affect as 4 heads up Park Street, as it would have done while working Lytham's route 4 many years ago (Brian Turner)

24, the first generation of Lytham to Blackpool motorbuses passes 422 - one of the latest generation. 24's later duties before withdrawal was taking school children for swimming lessons at Lytham's baths. The baths was located on the site of the apartments behind 24. (Brian Turner)

A familar location for 24. The Lion was bought for the new 11 service from Lytham to Blackpool in 1935 which approached Lytham Square via the Promenade, turning left just to the photograher's right. In later year it was common on service 4 which also passed this point on its way to Green Drive (Brian Turner)

OK - not the Lion - but 50 years its junior. 1984 Leyland Atlantean 45 splits two generations of Blackpool buses and captures the attention of 412's driver. Your blogger is piloting the Atlantean, and rather enjoyed himself. (Brian Turner)

Enviro 200 demonstrator

The Enviro 200 demonstrator is captures turning at York Avenue in Cleveleys prior to working back to Mereside on the 4. The bus has mainly been used on routes 3 and 4, though is understood to have appeared on the 2 as well (Paul Wigan)

Monday, 28 August 2017

Lytham Hall In Pictures

Today was the fourth Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust Lytham Runing Day centered on Lytham Hall. Ribble 2101 - the first production Olympian, new to its Blackpool depot was amongst the service buses (David Umpleby)

Fylde Atlantean 71 squeezes through the classic gates at Lytham Hall on its way to St. Annes. (David Umpleby)

New to Ribble Bristol VR 1995 OCK995K has recently joined the RVPT collection -  it is seen here in its Eastern Counties guise - where it was converted to open top (David Umpleby)

71 again parking up between journeys (David Umpleby)

ECW bodied Leyland Atlantean 1481 takes its turn to drive through the hall gates (David Umpleby)

HOD55 is a recent addition to Coastal Coaches of Warton after a thorough restoration by Kenzies Coaches. (David Umpleby)

Several RVPT single deckers formed a display at Lytham Hall (David Umpleby)

Making its debut in preservation after recent restoration is Stagecoach Ribble 2234 - a Nothern Counties bodied Volvo Olympian (David Umpleby)

Blackpool Atlantean 362 awaits its slot on the free bus service (David Umpleby)

A visitor from Stagecoach Kendal depot, Trident 17012 has recently received this livery inspired by the original White Lady double decker coaches. It is now part of their private hire fleet (David Umpleby)

1939 Leyland Titan 2057 enters the Hall grounds (David Umpleby)

Lytham Lion 24 of 1934 was a popular exhibit and was used for one trip duplicating the bus service to St. Annes (David Umpleby)

50 year old Blackpool PD3 501 approaches the bus stop at the Hall Gates (David Umpleby)

Saturday, 26 August 2017

August Round Up

Heritage livery Volvo B7RLE 524 has been a regular on service 2 recently - this seems largely single deck operated on weekdays now instead of double deckers - perhaps for the school holidays (Paul Turner)
Diverting and Shuttling
Recent events have caused some disruption to the bus network due to the closure of the Promenade. This weekend (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) the Livewire events have closed the Promenade in front of the tower after 1300 and next Friday's switch on ceremony for the Illuminations will do likewise.

Blackpool Transport has taken the decision to split its cross town services for the duration with a free shuttle bus linking the two termini. The 5, 6 and 7 are split, with the 1 suspended south of the Town Centre:

  • 1 operates from Talbot Road (opposite Wilkos) then via Dickson Road and Pleasant Street to rejoin the Promenade.
  • 2/2C will terminate at St Johns Square rather than Corporation Street
  • 3 and 4 will miss out Abingdon St towards Mereside
  • 5 will run Hospital to Abingdon Street and New Bonny Street to Halfway House
  • 6 will run Grange Park to Abingdon Street and New Bonny Street to Mereside
  • 7 will run Cleveleys to Talbot Road (outside Wilkos) and New Bonny Street to Lytham
  • 9 will terminate at Talbot Road (outside Wilkos)
  • 11 will terminate at New Bonny Street
  • 14 will terminate at Talbot Road (opposite Wilkos)
  • 15/16 will terminate at St Johns Square
  • 17 will terminate at New Bonny Street
  • 20 will terminate at New Bonny Street
The 5, 6, 7 and 17 leave New Bonny Street via the Promenade then Chapel Street to resume normal routes. 5 and 6 will also run through St John's Square to reach Abingdon Street terminus, with 2/2C, 15/16 using temporary stops at the pedestrianised Winter Gardens end of Abingdon Street

Longer term diversions affect the 15/16 currently with a closure of Harrowside bridge. Both routes are using Lytham Road, Squires Gate Lane and Clifton Drive to avoid the bridge. 

The recent Blackpool Airshow (12/3th August) also saw the 1 suspended south of the Town Centre, the full route allocation still ran with buses standing at North Station - here Trident 316 and DAF 362 wait time (Shaun C)
DAF 369 runs slowly through the pedestrianised St John's Square on 25 August (Paul Turner)

Enviro 200 Demonstrator
During August a second Enviro 200 demonstrator has seen service with BTS on the 3 and 4 services, following on from the first demonstrator earlier this year. This one is YX17NLF.

Catch 22 Fleet and Service Changes
Further Dennis Darts have arrived from Cardiff, in the 'Capital Links' yellow livery. Y379GAX and Y381GAX were the first pair and have since been joined by Y373/82/6GAX. Older Darts 316, 362, 363, 369 and 371 are now believed withdrawn removing some of the longer Darts following the recent eradication of the MPDs.

The withdrawal of 316 appeared to eradicate the orange/teal livery variant with recent repaints emerging in all-over teal. However a recently acquired ex Stagecoach Trident S833BWC has been outshopped in this livery! Ex Manchester Airport SN55HSK is now in use in all-over green livery after repaint. 

For a small fleet there is currently a variety of liveries:
  • 5x All-over teal YJ10MGU, SN55HSK, 361, 812/3
  • 1x Teal and Orange 833
  • 5x Lighter Orange (ex Cardiff Links buses not repainted) 373, 379, 381, 382 and 386
  • 2x Teal and White YJ61JHE/H
  • 1x Manchester Airport SN55HSZ
  • 2x Red 319, 365
Tuesday 28th August sees the revision of service 24 to replace service 22 between Cleveleys and Fleetwood. The new 24 will use 4 buses Monday to Saturday on a half hourly frequency Poulton to Fleetwood, 3 on Sundays on an hourly Knott End to Fleetwood timetable. The 21 continues unchanged while the 22 is withdrawn. The 24 will no longer service School Road in Thornton.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

RVPT Lytham Hall Line Up Bank Holiday Monday 28th August

Ribble Olympian 2101 leaving Lytham Hall last year (Paul Turner)
The Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust fourth Lytham Hall Running Day is on Bank Holiday Monday 28th August. An impressive 13 buses will provide a 10 minute frequency bus service between Lytham Hall, Lytham Promenade, Fairhaven Lake and St. Annes Square.

Buses start at 0935 from St. Annes Square run every 10 minutes until 1635, with buses from Lytham Hall between 1000 and 1600. Access to the Hall is by bus or on foot only - there is no public parking at the Hall, but there is parking nearby close to the Hall entrance gates, where the service bus will pick you up.

13 double deckers have been lined up for the bus service, mostly with local connections and including two open toppers. Ranging from RVPT's 1939 Leyland Titan TD5 to Stagecoach's 1999 special events 'White Lady' Trident open topper the line up includes some marking special birthdays, with Fylde 71 40 years old this year, 501 50 years old, A267 60 years old, 2234 marking its preservation debut in its 21st year and the Trident has celebrated its 18th birthday. 

Bus Service Line Up:

  • Ribble 2057 (RN8622) Leyland Titan TD5/ Alexander of 1939
  • Ribble 1775 (RCK920) Leyland Titan PD3/ Metro Cammell  of 1962
  • Ribble 1995 (OCK995K) Bristol VR/ECW Open Topper  of 1972
  • Ribble 1397 (NRN397P) Leyland Atlantean/Park Royal  of 1976 
  • Ribble 1481 (TRN481V) Leyland Atlantean/ECW of 1980
  • Ribble 2101 (GFR101W) Leyland Olympian/ECW  or 1981
  • Stagecoach Ribble 2234 (P234VCK) Volvo Olympian/Northern Counties  of 1996
  • Stagecoach Cumbria 17012 (S812BWC) Dennis Trident/Alexander open topper  of 1999 in "White Lady" livery
  • John Fishwick and Son's 5 (528CTF) Leyland Titan PD2/Weymann  of 1958
  • Blackpool Corporation 501 (HFR501E) Leyland Titan PD3/Metro Cammell  of 1967
  • Blackpool Transport 362 (A362HHG) Leyland Atlantean/East Lancs  of 1983
  • Fylde Transport 71 (OJI4371) Leyland Atlantean/Northern Counties  of 1977
  • Liverpool A267 (VKB900) AEC Regent/Metro Cammell  of 1957

all vehicles subject to availability

Buses will layover at the Hall between duties alongside a handful of other buses led by prewar Leylands Lytham Lion 24; Ribble Lion 1161 and Ribble Cheetah 1568. 
part of last year's Lytham Hall line up (Paul Turner)

Promenade Service at 30

Busy times as Fylde 103 operates the new Beachcomber Promenade service at Tower (Brian Turner)
In 1984/5 when local bus deregulation was proposed, there were many objections, often focusing on loss of links at quiet times. On the Fylde, while many bus services were recast, the feared heavy cuts did not happen. One particular local concern was the exposure of the Blackpool Tramway to bus competition. Prior to deregulation, other than between Manchester Square and Talbot Square (5, 11/11A, 12); Gynn Square and Bispham and Little Bispham to Anchorsholme (3/3A) there were no parallel bus routes to the tramway in Blackpool. Ribble did overlap considerably in the Wyre area.

In fact the initial deregulation network reduced overlaps, with the 3/3A cancelled on North Promenade. Competition between Blackpool Transport and Fylde developed in 1987 with the most significant measures being the introduction of the St. Annes Handybus in June 1987. Fylde's response was to introduce its own minibus operation, competing with Blackpool's hitherto un-threatened tramway.
The response - day 1 of the new "Beachroamer 55"and 530 heads for Gynn Square near Harrowside (Brian Turner)
Its six Dodge S56 minibuses, with Northern Counties bodies arrived in June 1987 and entered service on 29th June on new service "Beachcomber 5". This ran from outside Pontins along the Promenade to Gynn Square with a bus every 7/8 minutes and all six needed daily. Fylde's 1965 vintage open top Atlantean also put in appearances, newly branded for new 'service 1' which ran two return trips, Mondays Tuesdays and Fridays from St. Annes to Fleetwood for the market. 

The Dodges seated 22 (101-4) or 20 (105/6), so with around 160 seats per hour the tramway was unlikely to be threatened - given that one double decker tram could take 100 passengers. However the minibuses did dent the shared taxi operations which had become popular.

At the end of the season, the 5 was revised to run a 30 minute Starr Gate to Little Bispham service using 2 buses - with the other six switched to new route 66 Town Centre to Sevenoakes. In January the 5 morphed into a Blackpool to Cleveleys service and the southern end of the Promenade became busless again in the winter, except for the odd positioning journey to/from Fylde's depot.

Fylde's minibuses resumed for Easter on Good Friday 1 April 1988 this time using route number 55. Full season service resumed in May, now starting from Pontin's forecourt. Blackpool Transport responded with its own Promenade service using six Routemasters bought from London Buses - joining six bought in 1986 and used on service 12. The buses had a simplified version of the 'heritage' red and white used on the first batch and were branded "Beachroamer 55" v Fylde's "Beachcomber". The Routemasters started on 28th May.

The 1989 season saw Fylde run at Easter renumbered 40p - reflecting the flat fare which had risen from 35p the prior year. Blackpool resumed their service also renumbered 40, prompting a fare cut by Fylde to 35p meaning their service was renumbered too!
1990 and Beachcomber has become Coastliner 1 with Fylde's ex Hull Atlantean 134 leading Blackpool's now unbranded Routemaster southbound at Manchester Square (Brian Turner)
For the 1990 season, Blackpool Transport secured access to Pontin's forecourt, banishing Fylde. BT provided an all-over advert tram and Routemaster, presumably better value than Fylde's two minibuses. Fylde responded by replacing its minibuses with double deckers. There was no Easter service and some of Fylde's older double deckers  3 open toppers and 4 closed toppers received a branded livery with a yellow front branded Coastliner. The closed toppers had blue sides/rears, the open toppers advert liveries. The route became service 1 ran ran every 10 minutes from St. Annes Square - so it could still pass Pontins - terminating at Market Street, Blackpool Town Centre. 5 buses were needed. Evening services ran Pleasure Beach to Gynn Square.

Blackpool's 40 continued every 10 minutes Pontins to Gynn with a half hourly evening service to Tower only.
Fylde Atlantean 54 displays the 1991 version of the Promenade livery with two tone blue and a yellow front (c NDL642M)

Fylde developed its new service 1, rebranding as "Rollercoaster Route 1" in partnership with Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Liveries became more vivid and more venerable Atlanteans joined the fleet. In 1993 the Fylde Promenade fleet comprised:
10 ex Hull Atlanteans 1969-1971 (48, 49, 52-57, 59/60) 52/3/4/5/7 were open top
2x new to Fylde Atlanteans/Willowbrook 1975 (50, 83)
1x new to Salford Atlantean/Met Cam open top 1965 (51)
1x new to Lytham Atlantean/NCME 1970 (58)
1x new to Clyde Coast Atlantean/NCME 1977 (70)

Blackpool used six 1961-1963 built Routemasters, alternating its fleet each year between the two batches after 1991 when the 12 lost its batch. It also ran a tram fleet of mainly 1930s vehicles. Promenade travel was a vintage affair. 

Routewise, Fylde tended to run to Cabin at the north and extended in St. Annes to Pleasure Island complex serving the town's hotels. Blackpool withdrew between Tower and Gynn in 1992, reducing its PVR to just 4. Fylde ran 8 per hour to Blackpool's six.
The 1994 livery featured light blue orange and yellow - with a dark blue bustle. 19 year old Atlantean shows the rendition of the Big One Rollercoaster on the offside (c NDL642M)

Fylde was taken over by Blackpool in May 1994, but stayed as a separate entity until July 1996. The Promenade services were co-ordinated with each operator providing a 10 minute service. This would be the last year of Routemasters on the Prom as the 1995 season saw Fylde service 1 reign supreme.

Fylde's distinctive Promenade liveries were replaced by the new standard blue and cream fleet livery, with yellow fronts for 1995 but these were dropped for 1996 so fleet liveried buses became standard - ending the dedicated operation of the older Atlanteans. The last open toppers remained dedicated, though these ended in 1998. 1996 saw operation extended from Cabin to Little Bispham, but this was cut back in 1997. 1998 saw a short extension to Bispham and then Cleveleys in 1999. 
1998 was the final season of Fylde's venerable open toppers. Here, in the restrained green and cream livery 453 turns into Pontins (Brian Turner)

The service continued during the 2000s, with various changes. Seasonal timetables saw lower frequencies in the early season and higher frequencies in school holidays. The St. Annes section was reduced, by 2003 it was high season only and by 2006 it had ended. Pontins became the southern terminus, though buses served the Airport southbound from 2006. The holiday camp closed in October 2009 and buses terminated at the Airport for 2010.

The Metro era saw the Atlanteans common on service 1 displaced by Olympians from 2003, with route branding resuming with an orange/yellow livery for service 1 - and also for school services. Olympians 365-7 and 407-10 were dedicated for 2003, 404-6 in 2004, 368/9 in 2006 (with 404 painted for line 20), 2007 saw 401-4 and later Tridents 333-337. Olympians 411-7 also gained the orange livery but tended to be used solely on schools. Tridents 338/9 were the final recipients in 2009/10.

Summer 2006 saw a dalliance with City Sightseeing open toppers. These had provided a tour in 2001 but moved onto Zoo service 21 - which also served the Promenade from 2002 and onto the 1 in 2006. They moved onto revised service 20 from 2007. 
Metrobus 815 represents the short lived City Sightseeing era on service 1 in 2006 (Brian Turner)

Blackpool's tramway was in troubled times - not really caused by bus competition, but declining infrastructure. Major track renewals took place in winters 2003/4 and 2004/5 with tram replacement buses from Thorton Gate to Fleetwood. It was decided for the 2007 winter to make Line 1 a year round service and it ran every 20 minutes Starr Gate to Fleetwood. Major winter works continued on the tramway until it was relaunched in 2012. This included the closure of the Fleetwood street section in 2010, and the closure of the entire line north of Little Bispham in 2011. The 1 therefore performed an important function. It ran every 20 minutes with season extras. 
Centro 527 operating on service 1 during 2011 - it is diverted at Little Bispham onto Cleveleys Promenade due to tram works. (Brian Turner)
September 2010 saw the nine new Volvo/Plaxton Centro single deckers allocated to the 1, but these proved too small at busy times so double deckers soon appeared. The major Promenade road scheme saw the route split into 1 Fleetwood-Blackpool and 1A Blackpool to Airport for winter 2010/1. The through route resumed in June 2011. November 2010 also saw the 1 replace the 14 between Fleetwood and Freeport.
2008 - and the 1 is running Pontins to Fleetwood, with a mixed Trident/Olympian allocation. The two 1989 Olympians painted into orange (368/9) are seen at Pontins terminus (Brian Turner)

Since the reopening of the tramway, the 1 has continued with its base 20 minute frequency service, and half hourly evening timetable which remains today. It complements the trams, especially for older folk whose concessionary passes are not valid on the trams if outside the local area.

So Promenade buses started in 1987 - with 8 minibuses per hour and today, 30 years on use 3 double deckers per hour. The tramway has probably never been fitter with a fleet of 16 new trams in 2012, a planned extension and a vibrant volunteer run heritage operation. 

The ex Blackburn Tridents were allocated to service 1 in 2007 when the service became year round. Here 333 and a sister head south at Norbreck (Brian Turner)