Monday, 21 May 2018

BTS Summer timetable

24th June is the start date for the summer timetable. Registrations for services 1, 6, 7, 14 and 20 have been recorded, the 1 will run every 20 minutes, 7 every 15 minutes, 14 every 10 minutes. No details of the changes to the 6 and 20 are available.

Route 20 is currently terminating at Clifton Arms, with buses laying over by Little Marton Windmill, presumably turning at the M55 roundabout. Buses display "Preston New Road for Marton Mere".

Blackpool North to Preston rail replacement work is continuing beyond the start of the new timetable yesterday with services shown until 3 June. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Last Excel Returns North

The sole surviving Blackpool Excel, 225 (T935EAN) has returned to Lancashire today. One of five bought from Reading, it was the last of its type in service in November 2016, it was sold to Morton's Travel of Basingstoke in May 2017. It formed part of Adrian Morton's preserved collection. Morton's recently changed hands and Adrian has sold many of his collection. It has been purchased by Mark Mccarrick and is moving to the Town and District Transport Trust premises near Accrington.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

More deliveries, more diversions

Two further Enviro 200s are now in stock, with 223/4 arriving on Thursday as well as 221/2 as reported. The batch will be 221 to 238 and are 34 seaters. 

The town centre diversions, expected from 9th May, now take effect from Monday 14th with the 5 and 7 using Clifton Street and 6 Corporation Street northbound.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Solo in the Movies - DAF Trainer into Preservation

Former Blackpool Solo 274 is due to become a film star as it is currently in the Great Yarmouth area for filming work for a Danny Boyle film. It retains Halton's livery and has regained its original registration V274HEC in lieu of the dateless plate used by Halton. A fake plate is carried for filming.

971 (W471MKU) - the single deck driver trainer - has been delivered to the South Yorkshire Transport Trust premises near Rotherham today for preservation. This was one of 11 East Lancs bodied DAFs delivered new to Yorkshire Terrier in 2000. It was purchased in July 2013 from Stagecoach Sheffield (successor to Terrier) and finally entered service as a driver trainer in April 2015. It was out of use by March 2018, with Trident 339 under preparation as its replacement.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

First Enviro 200 arrives

The first new midibus for nine years has arrived today, as YX18KWA - one of 18 Alexander Dennis Enviro 200s due. These are expected to replace the remaining 21 Optare Solos. They carry the Palladium livery and many of the features of the last batch of Enviro 400s are included. The new bus is illustrated on the Blackpool Transport twitter page linked below. Update - YK18KWB also arrived today.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Diversions and Route Changes

Some minor route changes are taking place during May to Blackpool Transport's network:

  • Saturday 5 May - service 20 will now start/finish at Clifton Arms on Preston New Road, following Haven's awarding of a concession to use Marton Mere to Catch 22's service 26.
  • Monday 7 May - service 18 will now serve Stanley Park via Mere Road, West Park Drive and Knowsley Avenue. This is a temporary arrangement until daily service on the 20 resumes in the summer
  • Wednesday 9 May - various route changes are registered from this day, when access is available to Clifton Street in Blackpool Town Centre once more. Routes 2, 2C, 5, 6, 7, 12, 18 and 19 are affected

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Rail Replacements, Repaints, Disposals

The delayed re-opening of the Blackpool North line took place on 16th April, however only with one train per hour as crew training continued. Rail Replacement buses are continuing until at least 5th May, possibly until the new timetable starts on 20 May - when electric trains will make their debut. The bus service now runs every 30 minutes on the direct and 'all stations' routes, with the peak fasts to or from Poulton retained.

Trident 313 is currently under a repaint into the old black and yellow livery following removal of its Sands Venue wrap. It has carried this since late May 2014 - one of the longest lived all-over adverts. 313 has only carried the fleet livery for about two months. It received its first advert - for Tower Dungeon - in 2012, replacing its Metro green base. When this expired, along with sisters 312/4/5 which had schemes for other venues, it was painted into fleet livery. However the Sands advert came along and as the only ones without advert frames, freshly painted 313 was chosen.

Sales are reported for Tridents 344 and 345 - the latter possibly to Stockdale of Selby (who have 334/7). DAF 358 is also reported as sold. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Survivors Update

Former Blackpool Trident 351 (E18BTS) is now Reading Buses 535 (X401KBV). Yesterday it was one of two ex Blackpool Tridents used on the first day of Reading's service 7 between Reading and Fleet, which has been taken over from Stagecoach. It is seen here in Hartley Wintney (Steve Foster - see his Flickr for more)
A number of former Blackpool Buses have changed hands, or appearance, recently. These are tracked on the Survivors page on this blog. The four Tridents sold to Reading have now entered service as seen above. 

Solo 284 has passed to The Eden, West Auckland where it has replaced older sister 282 which is now with Huw's Coaches in Caernarfon. Some of the original 15 Solos of early 2000 are still in use. Yorkshire Tiger sold its last two for scrap last year (262/4) but Blackpool Council still uses 267 for the tramway track gang, while Halton retains two of the six it bought (272 and 276). 273 is understood to still be with Star of Aylesbury and 269 with John's Blaenau.

Chepstow Classic Buses has repainted former PD3 518 (HFR518E) in original livery - its first repaint since Blackpool Transport painted it in 1989 on disposal to its first private owner. Pics on their Facebook page here. 518 joins fellow PD3s 512 and 529 as repainted in the six months.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Not quite 'in the jungle' but Lion 44 slumbers awaiting a new home 14th April 2018 (Philip Higgs)

An 81 year old relic of the Fylde's transport past has been thrust into the limelight thanks to a Facebook 'market place' advert. Between 1935 and 1937 Lytham St. Annes Corporation bought 25 Gearless Leylands, 11 Lions to replace its older Guys on local services and 14 Titans to replace the Lytham trams. 44 (BTF24) was the last of Lions. It arrived at Squires Gate Depot in late March 1937 - its date of registration was the 25th. The 11 Lions were made up of four Burlingham bodied examples, 29-31 of 1935 and 32 of 1936- all these became open toppers in 1946. The rest were Leyland bodied - 33, 34 and 40 of 1936 and 41 to 44 in 1937.

Withdrawals of the Leyland bodied Gearless Lions commenced in 1956 with 44 the last to operate around August 1962, having soldiered on alone after 43 was retired in 1959. An ex Lancaster Leyland Tiger replaced it. Two Gearless Lions survived into preservation, 34 (BTB928) and 44. 34 started off with the West of England Transport Collection at Winkleigh. After a few further owners it was acquired by Fylde in 1988 and restored - returning to use in early 1992. It passed with the business to Blackpool Transport who continued to use it for a few more years. It fell into disuse and passed to LTT (now Fylde Transport Trust) in 2008. Re-restoration was completed last year - but an engine knock has sidelined it.

44 was stored for a while by Lytham, passing through a dealers hands to Pyatt and Steele, Cheadle for preservation - it appeared at a rally at Stanford Hall on 10 September 1967. In 1971 it was purchased by Terry Robinson for the Three Counties Historic Vehicle Society and moved to Haxey near Doncaster and was rallied again. Next owner in the late 1970s was Dennis Bonsall of Long Bennington (Lincs) but in 1983 was noted with Reigate Coaches in a green based livery at an LT depot open day. Reigate Coaches was owned by Les Burchell, who continues to own Blackpool Leyland Tiger 7 today.

44 on arrival at Haxey following purchase by Terry Robinson (Brian Maguire)
44's final tax disc expired in November 1985 and it went into store. In 1997 it was purchased by Allan Haynes of Hingham and was stored at Attleborough for a while. In 1999 it was purchased by Rexquote - a Somerset heritage operator now known as Quantock Motors. From there it passed to Phil James of Cardigan - who was involved in the restoration of Lytham's non Gearless Lion 24 (TJ6760). From there it was purchased by its current owners - the Higgins family of Cheshire.

They owned a Rawtenstall Tiger - originally Gearless but by now manual; and a Ribble converted tow wagon. Sadly 44 hasn't been restored and has now been offered for sale. At least one offer has been made to secure the bus for possible future restoration - and hopefully we can report on its future here soon.

Looking rather careworn - the interior of 44 (Philip Higgs)

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

New and Old

Modernisation of the Blackpool bus fleet continues. Sunday saw Enivro 400s operating on seasonal service 20 - once home to the oldest Atlanteans or Olympians (Paul Turner)

The first of the new Enviro 200s has been inspected by BTS this week, with delivery of the batch planned for the 2nd and 3rd weeks in May. Assuming they replace all 21 Solos - then they will bring to an end 31 years of Optare bus operation by Blackpool Transport. In that time 165 new Optare buses and 14 second hand ones have been operated.

Recent press coverage has focused on the proposed relocation of the bus fleet from the 1920s bus depot to a new site possibly at Blackpool Airport. This is one of a number of points discussed at a recent council meeting (reports linked here). Of interest is a trial of park and ride- though this is understood to be an illuminations period one form Squires Gate - as tried a few years ago.

Three redundant buses have left the fleet. Solo 255 has passed to a local buyer for parts then scrap, while Trident 338 and fire damaged DAF 366 have gone for scrap to Parton's of Barnsley - 338 on 3 April and 366 on 10th.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Road Works Road Works Road Works

Tuesday 3rd April sees another change in the location of the tram extension enabling roadworks presently afflicting Blackpool town centre. This removes access to Clifton Street, and also blocks Corporation Street. Flow through St John's Square will be reversed. Buses 2, 2C, 18 and 19 will now run through St John's Square to terminate at Abingdon Street (rather than Topping Street) then return via Talbot Road and as present. The 5, 6 and 7 northbound will now pick up on the Promenade (at West Street) rather than Clifton Street.

This should last until 9 May when Clifton Street reopens, but Corporation Street will remain closed until 2 July. Cookson Street will be closed from Cookson Street to George Street and also Caunce Street will be closed between King Street and Cookson Street from 9 May to 1 June. This should have little impact on services.

However Market Street will be closed between Talbot Road and West Street from 22nd May to 2 June - this will prevent the 5, 6 and 7 from accessing Market Street - but presumably terminating 11, 17 and 68 will be able to turn via Church St, Corporation Street and West Street.

Finally - at least for now - Talbot Road is to be closed between the Stand and Abingdon Street from 21 May until August. Assuming Clifton Street is accessible this suggests northbound buses will use Clifton St/Abingdon Street and Southbound ones Springfield Road as present. 

Enviro 200s

The new Enviro 200s will be similar to demonstrator YX17NXA used in May 2017. It is seen here on service 4 at Mereside (Brian Turner)
Blackpool Transport has confirmed the planned arrival of 18 new Enviro 200s in May. These are to replace the remaining 21 Optare Solos and will mainly operate on services 3 and 4. These will complement the 55 Enviro 400 double deckers recently added to the fleet. This is significantly earlier than the October date planned last summer when the fleet plan was presented to Blackpool Council. It is understood that the 4 Enviros planned for delivery in March 2018 are no longer required and that 103 vehicles are to be purchased from 2016-2020 rather than 107 as previously reported. A further 30 vehicles are expected in 2019/2020 to replace the remaining Dennis Tridents.

Beach Bus 26

Saturday 5th May will see the start of 'Beach Bus 26' a new service provided by Catch 22 Bus from Marton Mere Caravan Park. Marton Mere had understood that a daily service would operate into Blackpool this summer, despite the withdrawal of services 15/16 and advertised this accordingly in their 2018 marketing. However with BTS only providing a weekend and local school holiday service on the 20, other operators were approached to see if they could fill the gap. Two operators submitted proposals and that of Catch 22 Bus was accepted. 

Beach Bus 26 will run hourly from Saturday 5 May until the end of the Illuminations. It will be a limited stop service from Marton Mere to Blackpool Tower, then all stops along the Promenade to Pleasure Beach, then back to Marton Mere via Yeadon Way in a one way loop. An evening service will be provided during the summer school holidays and on Illuminations Saturdays. Dennis Trident 833 is to be the dedicated bus.

thanks to Catch 22 Bus for the above background information.

Catch 22 Darts 186 (X186CTG) and 386 (Y386GAX) have left the fleet for scrap. This completes the disposal of the MPD Darts, except for 147 (T147DAX) which its retained as a towing bus. Ex First B6 813 (W813PFB) has also left. 

The associated Manchester Sightseeing Tours is expanding with new tours in Birmingham and Leeds during 2018. Two more open toppers Dennis Trident V168MEV has joined the fleet from Golden Tours and Volvo Olympian P534EFL has joined from Stagecoach North West. The 'Sightseeing Manchester' tour has been using three Dennis Tridents V362OWC and V158MEV (both ex Golden Tours) and W501RBB (ex Yorkshire Tiger). 501 put an unexpected appearance on Catch 22 service 21 on 27 February as an emergency cover for a failed bus.

Monday, 26 March 2018

March Round Up

Rail Replacement
Network Rail missed the 26th March deadline for reopening the Blackpool North line and this is now delayed until 16th April. BTS are continuing to provide rail replacement duties. They are also providing buses for weekend rail replacement between Wigan and Manchester.

New Driver Trainer
Withdrawn Dennis Trident 339 has been repainted into grey recently and is understood to be joining sister buses 973/4 (ex 303/4) as driver trainers. It seems likely that DAF 971 would be replaced, indeed it is already on 'SORN'.

Sold Tridents
The four Tridents sold to Reading Buses, 349 to 352 have been re-registered X399/393/401/398XBV resp ex E16 to E19BTS. They are numbered 534, 532, 535 and 532 resp in the Reading fleet. 532, ex 350, is seen in this flickr photo.

Blackpool Transport Bank Holiday Services
Unusually Blackpool Transport has advertised special bank holiday timetables for some of its services, rather than the usual Sunday service. 2, 3, 4, 5, 17, 18, 19 and 20 will run on their Sunday service, with special timetables on the 1, 2C, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 14. The 2C will extend to Knott End as it did last year on Bank Holidays, the 1, 6, 7 and 9 will run every 20 minutes instead of every 30 minutes, the 11 and 14 will retain their Sunday frequencies (30 and 20 mins resp) but at different times. Unusually this means the 1 has a higher frequency on bank holidays than for the rest of the spring period. It runs every 30 minutes on a daily basis otherwise.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Back on Squires Gate Bridge

The rebuilt Squires Gate Bridge is reopening early this evening and Blackpool Transport will be re-routing the 7, 11 and 18 on Saturday - eight days early. This means they will operate to their current timetables, but their revised route in the interim. This will lead to some hanging around - as the 7 gets 23 minutes from St. Annes to Halfway House v 10 on the new timetable!