Sunday, 28 June 2009

A tale of two Titans

501 and 529 pose together on Mereside turning circle

For the second year running Blackpool PD3 501 visited totallyTransport from its Glasgow base. 501 was new in June 1967 delivered in the livery shown by 529. At its first repaint it lost the green band and later received all-over off white. Blackpool experimented with different liveries on 390, 512 and 540 in 1982 and settled on 540's green/off-white scheme. 501 was one of several treated in 1983, emerging from the paint shop in April 1983 in a coat of paint that was to last it 25 years - though nobody would have predicted that at the time.

Slightly oddly in both 1983 and 1985 Blackpool withdrew recently repainted green/off-white PD3s yet painted further examples from the old livery into the new one. 501 was one and it was withdrawn and sold in February 1985 less than two years after its repaint. It was acquired by an Edinburgh based preservationist and moved to a new life in Scotland. The passage of time was unkind to the vehicle and after a few years of rallying it fell on hard times. By 2006 it was at the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust's Bridgeton depot and in February 2007 was acquired by Martin Gurr, Gary Conn, Bill Thomson and Ian Short for further preservation. Little time was wasted in starting the restoration, the progress of which can be seen on the Best Bus In Town fotopic site. March 2008 saw the vehicle take power for the first time in many years and in April 2008 a full repaint into the 1983 livery style was undertaken. A successful MOT pass saw 501 return to active use in May and in June it returned to Blackpool for a relaunch by the incumbent local mayor, prior to totallyTransport.

501 on completion of its restoration (Gary Conn)

Meanwhile 529 is a year younger and was licensed on 28 June 1968 to enter service from 1 July. It had a very short life by Blackpool PD3 standards. In the late 1970s delivery of new buses was heavily delayed and some 1965 PD3s received life extension overhauls. In those days buses had 'Certificates of Fitness' for varying periods - 7 for the first, usually 6 for the second and shorter periods thereafter. By 1980 the backlog of Atlanteans had been cleared and it was decided to withdraw several of the 1968 buses as they were due for their second major overhaul to extend their CoF. 529 is believed to have been parked up in August 1980 and on 30 June 1981 it became the first Blackpool PD3 to enter preservation, purchased by Graham Oliver. Soon modified from the plain cream livery to represent the original livery it saw 2-3 years of active use with Graham. It then passed to Mike Brady and was stored locally before moving to Burscough and then St. Helens Transport Museum. In June 2001 Mike sold it back to Graham as its restoration had stalled. It returned to the Fylde in 2003 housed at the LTT Depot. Graham sold it to LTT for a nominal sum and in 2005 restoration began.

529 under repaint

Its repaint was completed in November 2006 but significant mechanical work delayed final completion until 21 October 2008 when the bus was successfully submitted for a Certificate of Initial Fitness exam and MoT, becoming a full PSV again for the first time since 1980. Its debut was at the Trust's October open day and during 2009 it has seen regular use including revenue earning duties on Classic Bus North West's 'Seafront 12' service.

529 at Thornton Social Club on Bus and Coach Preservation photoshoot

Totally Transport

Newly restored Atlantean 353 was entered by Chesterfield 123 Group

Today was the fifth totallyTransport which was well attended by local vehicles:
Current Blackpool buses Solo 242, Atlantean 364
Preserved Blackpool buses Atlanteans 334, 353, PD3s 501, 529, MetroRider 589
Preserved Lytham buses PD2 10, PD1 19
Preserved Fylde buses Atlanteans 45, 96
Preserved Ribble vehicles REs 338, 366, Leopard 1052, Atlantean 1805.
Former Abbots AEC Reliance WFR167K

Classic Bus North West used Lytham 19, Blackpool 529, Ribble 366 and LT RML2734 on an extended 'Seafront 12' while PD3 501 provided a free shuttle to the Mini 50 display at South Pier.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

339 into use

A wet welcome to Blackpool for 339 on Line 1 Wed 17 June (cJames Millington)

The first of the two ex Blue Triangle Dennis Tridents 339 has entered service on Line 1. It was in use on Mon 15 and Tues 16 June. 338 (PO51UMG) and 339 (PO51UMJ) were new to Blue Triangle Buses in Sept/Oct 2001 as DL911/3 as 66 seater dual door buses. They were acquired for route 248 between Romford and Cranham - a route taken over by First London in September 2008.

BTS acquire them in October 2008 and converted them to single door, up seating them to 75 seaters in the process. They are the oldest Tridents in the fleet and feature an earlier style of East Lancs bodies compared to their sisters.

Other news sees Solo 267 in the paint shop for Line 4 livery - its first repaint since c2003. Trident 314 is also under repaint following its accident repairs and Excel 218 is now off-site for engine renewal.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Diversions extend to August

The diversions in the Town Centre affecting services past the Winter Gardens and associated route curtailments have been extended until 14 August. Initially planned to last until mid May and then extended to mid June a further two months is now scheduled.

Lines 2, 2C, 3, 4, 6 and 15 are on diversion in the town centre - with buses diverted via Cookson St and Talbot Road with the 2/3/4/15 turning via Market St/West St/Corporation St.

Other impacts:
  • Line 2/2C - North Station not served.
  • Line 3 - Tesco not served. Buses terminate at Mereside School terminating via Clifton Rd/Deepdale Rd/Langdale Rd loop.
  • Line 4 - Tesco not served. Buses terminate at Mereside Shops running from Stanley School via Preston Old Rd, Cherry Tree Rd North, Clifton Rd, Langdale Rd to Kentmere Drive. Returns via normal route.
  • Line 4A - Shuttle service Stanley School to Tesco via Line 4 route to Preston New Rdd then into Marton Mere Park (for untimed connections with 15) then as 15 route to Tesco. Every 20 mins 820-1540
  • Line 15 - Tesco not served - buses terminate at Marton Mere Leisure Park.
The loss of service to Tesco is particularly poor for such a long period. Although connections are available with Line 6 in Mereside and the 4A shuttle is running (though its not very convenient for passengers off the 15), this has lost the direct service from much of Marton. The additional running time required to negotiate the Town Centre diversion has caused the truncations, however it is not clear why this should apply in the evenings or on Sundays when the 3 has 13 minutes layover and the 4 11 minutes layover at their Mereside termini - ample to get to/from Tesco.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Preston in Blackpool

Stagecoach North West recently acquired the Preston Bus business and started to integrate operations, though OFT and now Competition Commission enquiries have halted progress. Several Preston Bus vehicles moved to the former Ribble depot at Frenchwood and now see regular appearances on the Fylde Coast with 'on hire to Ribble Motor Services' in the window.

The vehicle above is one of Preston's Leyland bodied Olympians new as 107 (J107KCW) which is now Stagecoach 14557 and was an early repaint into Stagecoach livery with 'Stagecoach in Preston' fleet names. It has recently received an led destination and is quite a regular performer on service 68 (Preston to Blackpool via Ashton, Lea, Freckelton, Lytham, Ansdell, St. Annes and South Shore).

Two former Preston Bus Tridents 18582/3 (X182/3RRN) are also regulars on the 68 but retain Preston Bus colours, though with Stagecoach standard LED destinations. Appearances on the 61 (Blackpool-Kirkham-Preston) are less common. Solos 47760/3 have also made appearances on the Fylde as have examples of the rare East Lancs Esteem bodied Scanias in both Stagecoach and Preston Bus colours.

The use of blue buses on the 68 route is not without precedent. Back in 1989 Stagecoach took over the assets of Barrow Borough Transport and quickly transferred many of the inherited vehicles to Preston depot. Barrow blue liveried Atlanteans and Nationals frequently operated what was then the 167/168. Again in 1993 Lancaster was absorbed and the handful of buses taken over were mainly moved away from Lancaster. Several East Lancs Atlanteans ran from Preston depot in Lancaster blue and white for a while.

In the late 1980s Preston Bus briefly ran a competing service with Ribble from Preston to Blackpool via Kirkham and the M55 (route 39) co-ordinated with a similar service run by Lancaster City Transport (41). Preston Bus also occasionally ran into the Fylde on school services, most recently providing a Blackpool-Preston College contract.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Two of the MetroRiders expected to be replaced by the latest Solos remain in service. 503 and 506 are currently in use - though 503 was briefly laid up but it is now back out in place of 504. 501/2/4/5/7 are all stored at Rigby Road.

265 has emerged from the paint shop and was pressed into service without route branding on Monday. 217 is now under repaint prior to its engine change.