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!  

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Olympian and Tiger catch up

Former Blackpool 401 in Nottinghamshire under restoration to original condition as Trent 701 (Mark Scott)
The sole survivor of the 10 ex Trent Olympians, 401, is now under restoration back in its native Nottinghamshire. It ran with Blackpool from 1997 to 2010 before passing to Catch 22 Bus in early 2012. It was sold on from them to its
current owner in 2015. Thanks to Jono Niblock for tracking this one down!

Confirmation has also been received that one of 5 new to Shearings Plaxton bodied Tigers acquired from Fylde with the Seagull Coaches business survives. 23 (F703ENE) was the first of the five to be withdrawn in 1998, replaced by the shortlived new Javelin 27 (R927TFR). 23 was exported to Ireland (as was the Javelin a year later!) but returned to Wealden - the Kent based dealer in 2001. It remains in their hands 17 years later as seen in this 2016 picture.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Service Changes - back on Squires Gate, gone from Commonside

Blackpool Transport has confirmed that services 7 and 11 will revert to their established routes on Squires Gate Lane from 25 March. They will retain their current frequencies (20 mins and 15 mins resp). As a result the 18 will be diverted to run via Bond Street, Clifton Drive, Squires Gate Lane and Lytham Road between Royal Oak and Highfield Road. However the frequency will reduce from half hourly to hourly. Additionally service 17 will be retimed and revert to a 3 bus 90 minute round trip, due to the lower traffic levels once Squires Gate bridge reopens. Overall 4 buses will be saved. 

Service 20 (Marton Mere to Blackpool) will resume for its summer season from 25th March, working weekends and school holiday weekdays. It is assumed the usual morning and afternoon 1/2 hourly service will run using 3 buses. 

Stagecoach will also be changing the 68 from 26 March. This will also revert to running via Squires Gate Lane, but will also change route in Ansdell, matching Blackpool's 11 route via Blackpool Road and Albany Road rather than Commonside. This will bring an end to this section of the pioneer local bus route in Lytham St. Annes. It first started in 1923, and apart from a suspension from 1926 to 1928 it has been served continuously since the start of 1929. Sadly this seems another 'triumph' for car parking v accessibility for local buses. The 11 stop on Blackpool Road near the Blossoms Pub is far less convenient for most facilities than the Commonside stop. Presently college sevrice 853 (St. Annes to Myrescough by Preston Bus) and 916 (St. Annes Queens Manor to Lytham St Bedes by Bank View) also serve Commonside

Saturday, 24 February 2018

570 marks 30 years since the end of the Swifts

AEC Swift 570 heads south on service 21 to St. Annes at Bispham (Brian Turner)
The last week of February 1988 saw the final working of Blackpool Transport's AEC Swifts. Recently reactivated preserved 570 worked on Catch 22 Bus service 21 from Cleveleys to St. Annes today to mark the occasion. This is its third such duty this month - as a heritage bus it has exemption from accessibility rules providing it is not used on local service work for more than 20 days.

570 is part of the Fylde Transport Trust collection - this being the new name for the Lancastrian Transport Trust announced last week. Their new website and Facebook page are linked from the blog home page.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

February News Round-Up

Catch 22 Bus has acquired a further Dennis Dart from Cardiff Bus in the form of Y388GAX, which replaces Y386GAX which is now withdrawn. A timetable change from 7 April 2018 sees the withdrawal of the Sunday only Poulton to Knott End section of service 24. This was a credible attempt to maintain a commercial Sunday service to this community following the withdrawal of LCC support back in April 2016. Ironically one of the contributing factors is an abstraction of daytime passengers by service 75 since it was diverted via Cleveleys in December.  

Former Blackpool Swift 570 worked service 21 again on Saturday 10th February, one week after its first appearance. It is advertised again operating on 24th February on the following times:

  • From Cleveleys Bus Station at 1000, 1130, 1330, 1500 and 1630 (last trip to Pleasure Beach only)
  • From St. Annes Square at 1045, 1215, 1415 and 1545 
Blackpool and Stagecoach services change in Blackpool Town Centre from 19th February as Talbot Road is closed between Abingdon St and Dickson Road. The main changes are:

  • 2, 2C, 18 and 19 will terminate at Topping Street not Abingdon Street (in via Church St, onto Topping Street then return via Topping Street, right onto Talbot Road and as usual outbound route.
  • 5, 6 and 7 north will run as normal to Talbot Square then Clifton St, Abingdon St, St John Square, Topping Street and Talbot Road then as normal. 
  • Soutbound 5, 6 and 7 will run as normal to Talbot Road (Wilkos) then pick up at Market Street, presumably via Dickson Road, Springfield Road, Promenade and Talbot Square (note the 6 won't serve Topping Street)
  • The 9 and 14 still terminate at Queen Street and 3/4 southbound still use Abingdon St outside Library.
  • Stagecoach 42 and 61 will terminate at Talbot Road outside Wilkos. 

Not previously reported was the 3 and 4 regaining their northbound stop on Dickson Road from 5 Feb and also the addition of the stop outside Wilko on Talbot Road for outbound 9 and 14s because Dickson Road reopened and High Street closed.

Monday, 5 February 2018

350 in Reading

Ex Blackpool Trident 350 at Reading Buses depot in base blue for a Reading Football Club livery (Reading Buses)

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Tridents to Reading

Trident 349 is one of four heading to Reading. Here it passes the former Lytham tram waiting room in 2013  (Brian Turner)

Recently withdrawn new to Isle of Man Dennis Tridents 349 to 352 (E16BTS to E19BTS) have been sold to Reading Buses. 350 left on 25 January, with 349 leaving on 31 January and are being repainted at a contractor before delivery to Reading. They are expected to be used on football extras.

These are the latest buses to flow between Reading and Blackpool. This started in the 1996/7s. In 1994 a new local operator, Reading Mainline, introduced competing services using ex London Routemasters. Their fleet grew to around 40 buses and they acquired Blackpool's redundant Routemasters in 1997. 521 to 531/3 became Mainline 33 to 44, albeit not in order. Two (522/9) were not used, but the rest entered service in their red and cream livery - applied by BTS. 

Reading Buses responded with additional minibuses. This included five City Pacers purchased from Blackpool in late 1996. Pioneer 560 became 222, 556 to 558 became 223/19/21 and 566 became 218. This ran until late 1998 (except 556 which was withdrawn earlier). 

Reading Buses purchased Mainline in 1998 and progressively withdrew its inherited Routemasters, closing the unit on 22 July 2000. Ex Blackpool 526 became the last to operate.

Moving forward to 2008, Reading Buses was disposing its fleet of 64 Optare Excels after around 8 to 10 years service. 932 to 936 were sold to Blackpool Transport becoming 222 to 226. 225 became Blackpool's last Excel in 2016 and is now back in the home area with Morton's Travel of Basingstoke. 

Most recently Blackpool Solos 251/2/4/6/8/60 were sold to Newbury and District in West Berkshire.

A Swift Returns after 30 Years

570 awaits departure on the 1500 to St. Annes at Cleveleys Bus Station (Paul Turner)
Catch 22 Bus operated LTT's Blackpool AEC Swift 570 on its service 21 today. 570 has recently passed its first MOT for over ten years after mechanical attention and thus became the first native Blackpool Swift to run on a local bus service in the town for 30 years. Two ex Great Yarmouth Swifts ran for Easyway in 1988, giving a brief taste of Swift operation again.

55 Swifts were purchased between 1969 and 1975, 570 made its debut in April 1974 - one of the final batch of 30 purchased. Blackpool's Swifts had a relatively short life, though not untypical for Blackpool buses at that time with some PD3s and early Atlanteans also operating for 12/13 years. 19 Swifts remained in use at deregulation (October 1986) but these were whittled down during 1987 and a batch of second hand Leyland Nationals replaced the remainder with the last, 590, operating on 29 February 1988. 570 was laid up in December 1987. Wealden Omnibuses - a Kent dealer - acquired most of the last survivors including 570 which was sold onto Blue Saloon of Guildford where it ran from 1988 to 1992. It was purchased by Graham Oliver for preservation and returned to its second livery of green and off-white. It passed to LTT in 2003 and was repainted again in 2005, but was stored for most of the intervening years until overhauled and MOT'd this winter. 

It was nice to see a green and cream Swift back in use again - hopefully it can be repeated a few more times. Non accessible buses can be used up to 20 days each per year on local bus work and its on this basis that 570 ran today.

In other Catch 22 Bus news, Versa YJ61JHH has been reported on service 24 after a lengthy period out of service. Restoration is also progressing on LTT owned Blackpool PD2 346 (PFR346) - ironically the type replaced by Swifts in 1974/5 - with a new platform frameworked welded in. 

570 climbs Anchorsholme Lane - it would have regularly passed here on routes 25A and later 3/3A in its service life. (Paul Turner)


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Rail Replacement Update

Blackpool Transport Enviro 400s 442 and 444 stand in the layover bay at Preston Station prior to 444 working the 2115 to Blackpool North (Paul Turner)
Monday 29th January saw the start of phase 2 of the Blackpool Rail Replacement project with the reopening of the Blackpool South Line. Early and late trips remain bus operated with a 2250 from Preston to Blackpool South (Mon to Sat) and buses from Blackpool South at 0438, 0538, 2328 (Mon to Sat) and 0848 (Sundays).

The Blackpool North direct and all stops services continue but with the evening services reduced to every 30 minutes from around 1900. Blackpool Transport continues to provide 18 buses and has picked up some working including at least one working on the peak direct Poulton to Preston runs (0800) and also the 2328 from Blackpool South.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Fylde 78 rediscovered

Former Fylde Atlantean 78 has resurfaced as a playbus near Poole in Dorset. This, one of six 1975 Willowbrook/Northern Counties bodied Atlanteans that joined the BTS fleet when Fylde was absorbed in 1996, was withdrawn in 2000. It was sold to be a playbus with Fundays of Doncaster; later moving to Haynes Motor Museum by 2003. It left Haynes in August 2015 and was reported to be in the Dorset area. During last Autumn it made its debut with Adventure Bus, in a rather vivid new all-over scheme. More pictures are on the Adventure Bus Dorset website.

Fylde 78 in its new guise (Adventure Bus)
Updates to other survivors:

  • Volvo Olympian 375 has now arrived at Delves Infant and Nursery School in Walsall after conversion to a library by Blackpool Design Associates. See this Twitter link for photos
  • Liddells Coaches of Cumnock has confirmed they still have Atlantean URN330V in store as a seat store - its been parked up since 2003!
  • Optare Metrorider 589 has passed to Martin Gurr and Gary Conn for further preservation, joining their PD3 501, Swift 554, Atlantean 362 and Delta 133

Monday, 15 January 2018

January update

More Manx Tridents have been laid up with 349 to 352 joining 343-6 in store. The two disposed so far are being prepared with Lodges Coaches. See this Facebook link for a picture of 347 repainted. 

Solo 293 was scrapped in early January, it was withdrawn last year after accident damage and was sold at the end of the year to a private owner for spares and scrapping.

Not previously noted it that Enviro 401 has received a full rear advert for Blackpool Better Start. This has been applied by 5th December.

An update on the Preston Bus allocation at Blackpool has been provided by Peter Turner. On Sunday 14th January,  coaches Volvo B12B/Plaxton 11519/23/4, Mercedes/Unvi 12000, Volvo B12B/Caetano 13115, Mercedes/Plaxton 14003 and Mercedes Sprinter minibus 15514 were present with Solos 20769/73/81, 20800/2 and Tridents 40014, 40590/2. Not previously reported is the route of service 76 which serves Warton and Bryning Lane between Lytham and Wrea Green rather than its previous routing via Moss Side. 

Monday, 1 January 2018

Trident disposals and January diversions

Happy New Year. Tridents 347 and 348 have become the first of the ex Bus Vannin Dennis Tridents to be sold. They were collected on Thursday by Lodge Coaches of High Easter, Essex. Both entered service on 21 April 2012 and lasted until 3 March 2017. They started out as Isle of Man Transport 52 (EMN52Y) and 49 (EMN49Y) resp.

Tramway extension works on Talbot Road resume on 8 January, this blocks access to Clifton Street. Services 9 and 14 will terminate outside Central Library on Queen Street. 

Friday, 22 December 2017

December round up

Blackpool Transport has announced its Boxing Day and New Year’s Day special services:
  • Service 1 every 30 mins
  • Service 5 every hour
  • Service 6 every 30 mins
  • Service 7 every hour, terminating at Lytham Square
  • Service 9 every 30 mins
  • Service 11 every 30 mins Blackpool to St. Anne’s
  • Service 14 every 30 mins
Rail Replacement bus services will also be operating on New Years Day (but not Boxing Day) with the full timetable in place, requiring 18 BTS Buses in addition to the 23 used on their local network.
    From Friday 22nd, the Town Centre diversions are revised as the work ceases until phase 2 starts on 8 January. Also the Gynn Square diversion on the 3 and 4 ended on 8 December. The new pattern is:
    • Service 1 - resumes through route and reverts to Promenade throughout (first day Saturday 23rd)
    • Services 2, 2C, 18 and 19 - continue to terminate at Abingdon Street - inbound via St John's Square, outbound via Talbot Road and Cookson Street
    • Services 3 and 4 - northbound reverts to Topping Street/Dickson Road - but still uses Abingdon St (Library) and Springfield Road southbound
    • Services 5 and 7 - southbound revert to Talbot Road and Market Street, northbound still diverted via Albert Road,  Cookson Street, Church Street and Topping Street, but now also serve Talbot Road (Wilkos)
    • The 6 is as 5 and 7 - but from Grange Park uses Cookson St between Church Street and Talbot Road rather than its usual Topping Street
    • Services 9 and 14 continue to terminate at Clifton Street but now via Talbot Road
    • Services 11 and 17 terminate at Market Street as usual all day.
    Catch 22 Bus will be providing a half hourly service 21 on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. The 24 won’t run on these days. The company has had a clear out of redundant Dennis Darts, many of which were stored in the Weeton area. Ex Cardiff T145DAX, W363/5/6/71VHB, ex First X475SCY, ex EYMS W468UAG are understood to have gone for scrap. X617JCS, W466UAG and W362VHB have gone for preservation. Volvo B10M R898XVM has returned to Blackpool after a period stored in Liverpool.

    LTT owned Blackpool PD3 529 has been fully repainted into 1970s all over cream, topped with the iconic ‘See the CIS for Insurance’ offside advert and a nearside one for TSB. Swift 570 has been prepared for test and is expected to return to the road in 2018. City Pacer 575 has been moved to the Catch 22 depot for storage, after periods off site. Restoration work has resumed on Blackpool PD2 346 now other projects have concluded. 

    Preston Bus revised services 75 to 77 commenced on 11 December. Their current Blackpool allocation is reported to be:
    • Volvo B10B Coach 11525 and 13115 (Hallmark livery)
    • Mercedes Coach 12000 and 14003 (Elite)
    • Ford Transits 15039 and 15041 (Elite)
    • Optare Solos 20004, 20013, 20810, 20811, 20831, 20832 (Preston Bus)
    • Dennis Trident 40004, 40586, 40598, 40599 (Preston Bus)
    More information on the Preston Bus fleet here

    Friday, 17 November 2017

    Lytham Gearless Lion Returns

    Lion 34 on Clifton Drive North in St. Annes (David Umpleby)
    The Lancastrian Transport Trust's 1936 Gearless Leyland Lion 34 is nearing a return to use. 34 ran with Lytham St. Annes from 1936 to 1957 and was then preserved passing through various owners until it was purchased by Fylde Transport - the successor to Lytham St. Annes in 1988. After a three year restoration it returned to use in 1992. 'Use' was mainly on private hires and the occasional bus rally, though it sometimes worked free event services and even put in a turn on service 21 from Blackpool Zoo once Blackpool Transport had taken over Fylde.

    BTS retired it in 2006, as it needed further attention and it was purchased for LTT in July 2008. Recently work to reactivate it, with new seat cushions, repairs to the interior bodywork and a full repaint have culminated with repairs to the vacuum brake system. Some local test runs had taken place, but on Wednesday 34 was taken for a longer run reaching both St. Annes and Blackpool Town Centres. 34 will be joining the Catch 22 Bus hire fleet for 2018, though restricted to Fylde Coast hires

    In other Catch 22 news, withdrawn Darts 466 and 617 have passed into preservation. One of the two ex First Bristol Volvo B6s has returned to use (812) - the other is still stored (813). A fourth Routemaster has been purchased, with RML2290 rejoining the fleet - it had formed part of the original Classic Bus operation back in 2007 on hire from Graham Oliver and was used on Seafront service 12 in 2012, leaving in early 2013 on sale to Ensignbus. It has spent much of the intervening period in Cornwall.

    Lion 34 stands in St. Annes Square, about to be passed by a Blackpool Transport DAF (David Umpleby)

    Tuesday, 14 November 2017

    Squires Gate Depot to Return?; Tridents for Sale; Sold Solo Update

    Squires Gate Depot to Return?
    The recent release of a masterplan for Blackpool Airport, now in Blackpool Council ownership includes a proposal for the long rumoured relocation of Blackpool Transport's bus depot from Rigby Road to the enterprise zone at the Airport. This is, of course, merely a proposal - but the document suggests there are limited alternatives. The new site would be at the opposite end of Squires Gate Lane from the former Fylde Squires Gate depot closed in 1999.

    Tridents for Sale
    The withdrawn ex Isle of Man Dennis Tridents have been re-advertised on Facebook by Chartwell Bus and Coach Sales at £9,000.

    Sold Solo Update
    Recently sold Sold Solos 254, 256, 258 and 260 are now registered C17BUS to C20BUS and are in service with Newbury and District in their red and black livery. Sisters 251/2 are C15/6BUS - but have not yet been reported in use.

    Not previously reported is the sale of 285 from a local owner to Easyway, Bridgend as BW53BUS - note this is the third Solo to carry this identity according to Flickr!