Monday, 11 May 2009

In Profile - Line 15

Metro Line 15 is a relatively new service yet one with a long pedigree - if such a contradiction is possible.

Staining is a small village in Fylde Borough, outside the Blackpool boundary. It was initially served by William Smith's buses until Blackpool took-over in 1926 with a Blackpool-Poulton via Staining route. In September 1927 this was split and service 15 formed to run Blackpool-Staininig only with the Poulton route continuing up Normoss Road - the routes splitting at Staining Road End. The route taken by the 15 was simple - Cookson St, Church St, Newton Drive and Staining Road to the Plough.

This was to be its basic route for decades -with only a short extension to Whalley Estate (Bibby Drive) in 1954 and a diversion in the Town Centre via Abingdon St undertaken. Short serices started as trade grew. One - the 15A - morphed into a distinct service (Bispham-Warbreck Hill-Gynn-Town-Victoria Hospital. Another - the 15B - ran as short workings to Staining Road End while a third was the seasonal 15C which ran to Newton Hall Camp part way along Staining Road. This was not a generally advertised service unlike the 15, 15A and 15B.

The route was converted to OMO operation with Swifts in May 1974 - Fylde Borough Council having built a turning circle just beyond Bibby Drive. A route rationalisation in 1980 saw the 15/15A merged with both now running from Bispham, the 15 to Staining and the 15A to the Hospital and Zoo. The 15 now also served the Hospital southbound, most 15A were later diverted to Grange Park as 15B.

Deregulation saw the 15 continue with a minor route change in North Shore but the 15A/B withdrawn. Some 15s (Blackpool-Staining) were taken over by Fylde under contract to Lancahsire County Council providing extra peak workings and the evening/Sunday service - these passed to Blackpool in 1989 (but the peak trips were withdrawn) and back to Fylde in 1992. In June 1991 the daytime service was extended to Cleveleys (Safeway Store) and in March 1992 was converted to minibuses. April 1993 saw it truncated to run Gynn-Staining but with single deckers once more and November 1994 saw it further cut to run Bus Station to Staining.

In April 1995 the daytime service was withdrawn completely but Fylde (now a BT subsidiary) won a short term replacement contract and thus now ran the entire route. Surprisingly in October 1995 it lost this to local independent Town Bus who generally used Fleetlines - including Iveco engined ex London DMSs! April 1996 saw Fylde register the daytime service commercially and finally in August 1996 the 15 ended, replaced by a half hourly extension of service 23 (Mereside-Hospital) through to Staining. This, remarkably, included a half hourly commercial evening & Sunday service after a decade of a subsidised hourly service!

The 23 continued as such until January 2000 when new Optare Solos were introduced to the 23-25 group and the Staining service was now provided by route 25 during the day and the 23/23A evenings/Sundays. The Metro network of April 2001 saw the 23-25 go and new Line 5 serve Staining on a similar route, again every half hour.

November 2004 saw the 15 re-appear. It was something of a curious route tying together some elements of Lancashire County subsidy (a link from Poulton-Norcross and the College), plus some developer funding from Tesco and meeting aspirations to reinstate the Bispham-Gynn-Hosptial link. The new route formed a half hourly Poulton-Castle Gardens-Norcross-Bispham College-Bispham-Gynn-Town Centre-Hospital-Staining-Mereside Tesco using four buses. Early evening and Sunday daytime journeys ran Bispham-Tesco and late evening (post 2100) journeys ran Gynn to Staining. 584-587 were reinstated from store in a pink and yellow livery. Their duties included a single morning trip from Mereside to Norcross on service L1 (otherwise run by branded Solos) for which a round trip on the 15 was dropped. This survives today but numbered 116.

Investment in new Solos for other routes cascaded S-reg Metroriders 514-517 to Line 15 in August/September 2007 allowing 584-7 to be withdrawn. 516 did not have a long association with Line 15, as it fell defective sometime between May and August 2008 and after a long wait for possible repair was withdrawn at the end of the year with 513 gaining the pink livery in its stead.

Today 513, 515-517 remain allocated to Line 15. Spare buses are provided by Pool Metrorider 593 or Solos 261-4, 273-278 or 280. Somewhat out of the ordinary was the use of Line 1 liveried Olympian 365 for most of the day on 15 April as a changeover!

Since February due to roadworks in the town centre, the 15 has been curtailed at Marton Mere though later this month it should revert to its normal route.

The four bus workings do:
0715 Staining-Dickson Rd and empty to Tesco
116 0753 Tesco-Norcross then empty to Tesco
0907, 1107, 1307, 1507, 1707 Tesco-Poulton
1007, 1207, 1407, 1607, 1807 Poulton-Tesco
1907, Tesco to Bispham, 1951 Bispham-Tesco and empty to Staining
2045, 2145, 2245 Staining-Gynn, 2115, 2215, 2315 Gynn-Staining, 2345 Staining-Town and depot

0735 Staning to Poulton
0837, 1037, 1237, 1437, 1637, 1837 Poulton-Tesco
0937, 1137, 1337, 1537, 1737 Tesco to Poulton
1937, Tesco to Bispham, 2021 Bispham-Tesco and empty to Staining
2115, 2215 Staining-Gynn, 2145, 2245 Gynn-Staining, 2315 Staining-Town and depot

0721 Bispham-Tesco
0807, 1007, 1207, 1407, 1607, 1807 Tesco-Poulton
0907, 1107, 1307, 1507, 1707, 1907 Poulton-Tesco
2007 Tesco to Bispham 2051 Bispham-Tesco and empty to Depot

0737, 0937, 1137, 1337, 1537, 1737, Poulton-Tesco
0837, 1037, 1237, 1437, 1637, Tesco -Poulton
1837 Tesco-Bispham and empty to depot