Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Goodnight to the Night Bus

Sunday 27 March will see the end of Blackpool's least photographed bus service - the 27. This is the 'Night Tram' service which has remained as something of an anachronism - especially with the long winter closure of the tram route. It is presumed to have some statutory basis - though this is lost in the midst of time.

The bus has provided three journeys per day, most recently at 0030 Depot to Fleetwood Ferry (return 0105), 0325 Depot to Fleetwood Ferry (0405 return), 0446 Depot to Fleetwood Ash Street (return at 0520). For some time the latter diverted via Dickson Road to meet the an early train from North Station. The 0325/0446 did not operate on Sunday mornings. One driver covered all workings - the 'Night Depot Reserve' part of a small team of drivers on permanent stand by to cover no shows.

The 27 is normally Solo operated - as successors to the Metrorider and City Pacer, but it was not uncommon for high season weekend 0030 journeys to use big buses for capacity reasons!

The date of conversion of the service from tram to buses is not known - it was designated as a bus service in the 1970s timetables but may date from the 1960s. The number '27' has survived the introduction of the dedicated Promenade bus service 1 and the use of "111" as a tram replacement 'service'. The number reflects the extensive network operated during the 1970s when it was the lowest vacant number. In the early 1970s numbers 1-16, 19, 21-26 were in use for the main network, the 17, 18 and 20 were works services to the Guardian Royal Exchange offices in Lytham.

Other later additions to the service included:
  • 28 (Lytham to St. Mary's School from 1970s
  • 29 (single journey on the 14 Fleetwood to Blackpool diverted via Poulton and Victoria Hospital 1980-1988)
  • 30 (Starr Gate to Norcross works service - lasted until at least 1999, possibly until the Lifestyle Line started)
  • 33/36/39 - short lived minibus services in the 1970s
  • 34A/34B - Staff Buses from Bispham and Mereside to Rigby Road
The 31 and 33 were used for main services in the 1970s and 1980s respectively, but all that remains today are the 34A/B. PD3 and Swift destination blinds also included 32, 35 and 36 but it is not believed that these have been used in anger.