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  • 1 bus for the withdrawn section of the 2 to Cleveleys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It is not clear yet whether any buses will be sidelined for the winter - indeed some may be withdrawn for disposal as the new Enviro 400s will replace them in the spring after their rail replacement work is complete.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.