Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Metro Years: 2002

301-309 were the first new double deckers since 1994 and introduced low floor operation to Line 14 in May 2002 . This was only a partial conversion as 16 buses were required and it was not until May 2003 that full Trident operation was achieved.
2002 started with the appointment of a new Managing Director in January, Steve Burd joining from Arriva North East to replace the outgoing Tony Depledge. The Metro network continued to evolve. 8 April saw the merger of Lines 2 and 26 taking the former number but the latter's green identity. Line 2's black and yellow was dropped without appearing on a vehicle. The new route ran every 10 minutes from South Pier to Poulton with 12 Metroriders, reducing to every 20 with 5 buses in the evenings and on Sundays.

After just three weeks the 2 was affected by major changes to tendered services. The 180/2 passed to Stagecoach, while the 8, 9 and 10 were withdrawn. One journey per hour on route 2 was diverted via Hardhorn Road (allowing the 52/54 to be withdrawn), this showed 2A and continued via Carelton replacing the 52/54 in the local housing estates and then onto Thornton and Pheasants Wood to replace the 10 into Cleveleys. A second bus per hour diverted at Royal Oak to Mereside with two variations 2B and 2C providing a 2 hourly service over parts of the 8, 9 and 10 routes. This increased the 2 group to 14 buses, but saved five buses overall.
Metrorider 513 on the extended 2 at Poulton having had its 26 modified for the new route
Still not satisfied, the 2B and 2C were dropped from 3 June with the 2A extended over a consolidated route as far as the Asda store in Marton. The Kirkham Roamer was surrendered in April but resumed in May as the new operator pulled out quickly. The 88 was cut back to run Lancaster to Knott End only as service 89 from 29 April but ended on 22 July with Stagecoach taking over on the 24th.

29 April 2002 also saw Blackpool withdrawn from the Bus Station on commercial services - tendered route 158 continued to use it however. A minor change in September saw the 11 curtailed to Lytham Square in the evenings and on Sundays

Arrivals and Departures
9 Dennis Tridents with East Lancs bodywork were ordered in late 2001 and arrived during May. These were the first new double deckers since 1994 and the first new buses since January 2000. All 9 carried the dark green and yellow Line 14 scheme and entered service on 31 May. They regularly worked 9 of the 10 Fleetwood to St. Annes workings.
Atlantean 324 was one of the 2002 withdrawals - the first of this batch (321) having been sold back in 1994
Six more Solos were delivered in June having been purchased by Blackpool Council for use on the Lifestyle Line. 278/9, 281/2 entered service on the first day (8th July) with 280 soon after but 277 was placed in store as it was not required - most unusual for a new bus! It would not debut until 2003. All six carried a maroon and cream livery based on the council house style. Also in a non standard scheme was a further City Sightseeing Metrobus EWF450V which carried the generic branded livery rather than the Blackpool specific one of its sisters.

Changes in operating practises allowed the withdrawal of vintage ex Fylde Atlanteans 479/80/3 (HRN99/100/3N) and slightly younger 469 (SRJ757R). The Tridents released several Atlanteans. 441 selected itself due to engine failure in April while 324-327, 329-332 and 495 were taken out of use on 31 May. Sisters 328 and 338 were withdrawn at the end of school term in July.

Metroriders 585-8 and 596 were declared surplus after the April service changes and placed in store but returned to service in September only for 584-588 to be withdrawn in November.

The most dramatic withdrawal was Line 7 Delta which was burnt out by fire in the depot in the early hours of 5 July - thankfully without impacting on other vehicles. 

More Metro Repaints
2002 continued with the application of pool livery. Metroriders 590/1 spent the new year in the paint shop returned to use in January followed by 589. Next was Olympian 401 which was fully painted into pool livery but returned to the paint shop and was modified into Line 11 turquoise. Sister 406 followed and both entered service in mid February, joining newer Volvo Olympian 374 which had entered service on 23 January. Sisters 375/6 followed in March with 377 in April and 378/9 in August. November saw 1989 Olympian 368 return to use in Line 11 colours following major refurbishment.
Olympian 406 shows off its Line 11 colours on its first day in service after repaint at Cleveleys Bus Station
Line 6 Deltas returned to use after refurbishment with new bus seating in all but 108 replacing the high backed seats fitted from new 114 returned to use in January, 113 February, 112 March, 108 June, 110 August and 109 completed the team in October.
Solos 265 and 263 - which should be 20 minutes apart - pass at Mereside. 263 stands on the turning circle, presumably with a fault as 265 heads to Tesco
The sixth Metro variant following the 7, pool, 6, 26 and 11 was Line 3's blue and yellow which debuted on Solo 261 on 16 March with 262 soon following. 263-5 returned to use in March while 266 was also treated in May making a full allocation of six vehicles reflecting a change in previous practise. It had previously been allocated to Line 5.

Branding on 511-516 was modified to the new Line 2 and green and yellow was applied to 507/9 in May, 508 in June, 505/6 in July and 504/10 in August making 13 buses with 517 completed the 14 strong allocation in December. Delta 125 was partly repainted with its pool colours overpainted into purple to replace 120 in September while sisters 122, 130-133 lost pool livery in favour of the 11 scheme in October/November.
  • Line 2: 504-517 (14/14)
  • Line 3: 261-266 (6/6)
  • Line 6: 108-110, 112-117 (9/10)
  • Line 7: 118/9, 125-129 (7/8)
  • Line 11: 122, 130-3, 368, 374-9, 401/6 (14/22)
  • Line 14: 301-9 (9/16)
  • Pool: 123/4, 501/2, 589-595 (11).
This made a total of 70 Metro liveried vehicles up from 32 at the start of the year.