Friday, 14 January 2011

Stay of Execution for the evening 17?

The notice of the withdrawal of evening journeys on service 17 on Blackpool Transport's website has been revised to show Coastal Coaches as the new operator of the evening and Sunday journeys. It is not yet clear if this includes the Sunday daytime services, nor has this been confirmed on the LCC website.

How long this lasts for is unclear. The evening service on the (then) 11C from Blackpool to St. Annes was subsidised from deregulation but is believed to have been registered commercially during the Metro era as Line 14. A half hourly service was provided from before 1986 to February 2010. Coastal Coaches won a contract for an hourly 14A which was replaced by Blackpool Transport's Line 17 (Blackpool to Lytham) in July again under contract to Lancashire County Council. November saw this split into the 17 (Blackpool to St. Annes) and 18 (St. Annes to Lytham) and the evening service appeared to be a casualty of the merger of the 18 and Wesham to Lytham section of Line 7. This would have left much of North St. Annes and the South Park area of Lytham without access to a bus service at these times.

Despite this, the service is under long term threat as part of Lancashire County Council's expenditure review following the Coalition Government's Comprehensive Spending Review. Much of the contracted bus network reductions would affect East Lancashire but include some Fylde area changes including the 17; the Garstang Super 8 demand responsive service and Hegarty Travel's 2 hourly service 77 from Wesham to Preston via Treales and Salwick.

The Fylde has had a relatively stable bus network for many years, retrenchment by individual operators generally being plugged by others - such as Stagecoach's reductions in Cleveleys and Fleetwood. The current era of austerity has seen some gaps appear with the loss of evening services on Waterloo Road in Blackpool, reductions in service frequencies on other corridors and the forthcoming loss of the evening service on Fylde Village service 75 from January 2011.

As yet there is no indication as to any changes to the subsidised services funded by Blackpool Council.