Monday, 31 October 2011

New Route for 2C

A surprising change from Monday 31 October sees route 2C re-routed between Poulton and Victoria Hospital via Blackpool Old Road (serving Sixth Form College and Collegiate School), Garstang Road, Dinmore Avenue, Gateside Drive, Chepstow Road, Fulwood Avenue and St Walburgas Road. While this reinstates the link between Over Wyre and the School/College from the former Ribble 85, it reduces the frequency via Normoss Road to every 30 minutes - a far cry from the six buses per hour on this corridor in 2009. It also re-introduces regular Blackpool Transport operation to Blackpool Old Road (previously evening/Sunday services to Knott End on the 58 served this route) and seems to be a response to Stagecoach's diversion of route 84 to Victoria Hospital.

The 2 and 2C continue to provide a 15 minute frequency service between Blackpool and Hospital, but from Poulton the 2/2C now run at 10 then 20 minute intervals. Saturday times have been revised to largely match weekday times (increasing the Saturday vehicle requirement to seven) and the 2 now runs hourly between Blackpool and Poulton in the evening. 5 workings use Solos, the other two use big buses with a Trident now a regular on one working.

In other news Solo 252 is currently under repaint - the latest Line 5 one to be treated after 255, 250 and 251. Excel 222 is nearly finished in the new livery while 221 remains in the body shop for refurbishment and 226 is away for its engine change. Olympian 374 is now out of use for seat belt fitting, presently all six Volvo Olympians are inactive.

Former Optare Excel 208 has been sold to a Barnsley dealer from Stagecoach Chesterfield and sisters 201/206 are believed delicensed by GHA, Wrexham. These were the last of the batch to operate.

Former Blackpool 208 (centre) awaits its fate at Stagecoach Chesterfield Depot on 14 August. (M Crisp)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Looks like the back of a bus

The traditional rear end of 1946 built Lytham St. Annes Leyland Titan PD1 19 seen in St. Annes on Seafront 12 in 2007
The stereotypically aesthetically challenged backs of buses have evolved over the generations. Rarely captured by photographers, these pictures illustrate some of the variations.
By contrast with 19, Blackpool's post war PD2s were centre entrance and had this unusual appearance at the rear - few double deck bodied look comfortable with neither a rear entrance or rear engine

Blackpool's later PD2s and all PD3s featured traditional rear entrances as seen here on 379

PD3 512 enters Rigby Road yard passing Atlantean 317 showing the family 'bustle' effect of the rear engine. To the left of 512 is underfloor engined Lancet 598 with the unusual Marshall rear profile with a patterned upper half and plain lower half.

Another Atlantean rear end - on Blackpool's last 364
The backs are in the background  - with a Swift and newly purchased ex Crosville National and an Atlantean

Optare products have had a family feel with moulded patterns around the rear window and a plain engine cover. Delta 104 passes through the now pedestrianised St John Square.

The Optare look again on Metrorider 586 - these front engined buses omit the rear engine cover
Solos are rear engined and lack a rear window - the 'glazing' is false. Early Solos and Excels were modified to remove the 'step' affect below the engine housing which tended to attract unwanted unofficial passengers
The end of the Atlantean in 1984 saw off the 'bustle' - its replacement the Olympian and most buses since have had flush rear ends - often of plain style like this East Lancs Trident

Friday, 21 October 2011

Fleet Update

Delta 119 has left Blackpool for scrap, completing the disposal of the type, save for the two driver trainers. In happier times it heads to St. Annes at Starr Gate on 13 August 2009
The final two withdrawn Optare Deltas have left Blackpool with 122 collected by Parton's on 13th October followed by 119 on 19th. Olympian 409 is expected to follow next week. Repairs have also started on accident damaged Olympian 403. Sister 405 and the sole active ex West Yorkshire example 365 saw use on route 20 today - 25 years to the month since it arrived in Blackpool.

Optare Excel 222 returned from Cummins with its new engine on 14 October, sister 226 headed north the previous day for similar treatment. This leaves just 223 and 225 un-modified. 222 is now in the paint shop (with 375/8) while 221 - is now receiving body refurbishment.

23 July 2009 and Olympian 409 stands at Starr Gate on route 1 with Balloon 713 waiting at the tram terminus. 409 is expected to leave for scrap shortly

19 October 2011 and the same location shows Volvo B7 530 having modernised route 1, while the future of Blackpool's tramway Flexity 001 is tested roughly where 713 was seen above. Single deckers now dominate route 1 - except at weekends when Tridents are more common - those with roller blinds have had 'Starr Gate' added having previously had to display 'Pleasure Beach'

Monday, 17 October 2011

Atlantean 444 visits the Fylde

444 from the front
Former Blackpool Atlantean 444 (NJI5504) returned to the Fylde on Sunday with its current owners "Irlam Royalettes" - these photos were taken as the bus was parked empty at Farmer Parrs at Thornton. 444 was new to Fylde Borough in early 1984 as 74 (A74LHG) - its penultimate new Atlantean and one of five long wheelbase examples fitted with high backed seating. In winter 1990/1 it was refurbished and transferred to the Seagull Coaches division renumbered 24 and re-registered NJI5504, restricted to coach work including regular excursions to Granada Studios Tours in Manchester, Fleetwood Market and Tours of the Illuminations. Renumbered 44 in 1992 it was absorbed into the Blackpool fleet as 444 in July 1996 with the rest of the Fylde business. Around this time it regained its ticketing equipment and went back into regular service usually on the 11/11A. In 1999 it moved to Rigby Road depot - ahead of the closure of Squires Gate - and regularly operated on route 14/14A (Fleetwood to St. Annes). Later downgraded to mainly schools and the summer Promenade service it was withdrawn with the last Fylde Atlanteans in May 2004. Since then it has been employed by two dance troupes.
Rear View
In other new Olympian 403 was noted returning to depot this morning with front offside accident damage.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Topping Street Terminus, Smart Olympians and Delta Farewells

From 1 October Saturday evening Illuminations Diversions were revised. Traffic congestion in the town centre has meant that buses suffer delays reaching Market Street and Clifton Street. As a result routes 2, 2C and the limited 17 journeys affected are now terminating at Topping Street near Church Street and then leaving town via Deansgate, Cookson St, Larkhill St, Grosvenor St and as before. The 9 is terminating outside Iceland on Topping Street. Northbound 5, 11, 14 (and the 17s to Topping St) now turn off Regent Road onto Church St, Topping St, Deansgate and Talbot Road and then normal route; Southbound buses on the 5 and 14 service Larkhill St, Grosvenor Street (joined by 11) then Church St, Topping St, Deansgate, Cookson St, Talbot Road Larkhill St, Grosvenor Street (again!) and as the normal diversion route.

Volvo Olympians 376 and 377 have returned to Bus and Coach World in Blackburn following repaint into the new livery (albeit without vinyls) presumably for further interior work. 375 and 379 have returned to Blackpool and 375 is now in the paint shop with 378. 374 has been noted in service unmodified - appearing on route 20 last Sunday. It retains Metro livery and rear advert for Real Radio

Delta disposals have accelerated with 102 departing on Monday. 119 and 122 are due to follow - completing the disposal of the Deltas save for active Trainers 969/70 (ex 129/30):
February 2003 - 120
Sept 2004 - 131
July 2007 - 117
February 2008 - 128 (S)
June 2009 110
May 2010 - 124
August 2010 - 103/5/14 plus 109 (S)
September 2010 - 104/6-8, 112/3, 115/6
October 2010 - 127 (S)
November 2010 - 118
Mar 2011 - 101(P), 133 (P)
June 2011 - 132
July 2011 - 126
September 2011 - 123, 125
October 2011 - 102 (119, 122)
P = Preserved, S=Further Use