Friday, 20 April 2012

The Metro Years: 2003

Metrorider 591 in Lytham Square on the extended Line 2 which replaced the St. Annes Roamer in January 2003
2003 was a year of evolution for the Metro network - particularly Line 2. 6 January saw a half hourly extension from South Pier to Lytham Square via the route of St. Annes Roamer 77 which was withdrawn. 16 buses were now required. At the same time Line 3 was extended from Cleveleys to Thornton during the day increasing PVR by one to seven. This replaced a withdrawn Stagecoach service. Excels took over Line 5 from Solos but with all nine required it was necessary for Solos to continue stand in. The Solos from the 5 replaced the Excels on the 4 which was re-routed to serve Claremont, helping relieve Line 3 in this area. The 5 no longer served the Maternity Unit at the Hospital with the Lifestyle Line diverted via there instead.

Seasonal route 20 resumed at Easter and was diverted via Marton Drive and Watson Road instead of Waterloo Road. 1 June 2003 saw the Lifestyle Line extended with a second round of Urban Bus Challenge funding the purchase of Solos 283/4 by Lancashire County Council. From Norcross buses continued via Thornton, Cleveleys Safeway Store, Amounderness Way, Broadwater, Fleetwood to Beach Road Cemetery. From Morrisons buses were extended to Manchester Square via Harrowside and Lytham Road. 277 finally entered service on the first day after a year in store initially carrying YG02FWH  but by the 4th had been reregistered PL03BPZ. 283/4 both entered service on the first full day Monday 2 June.
As a result of the L1, the 2A was re-routed away from Harrowside via Watson Road, St. Annes Road and St. Lukes Road - much to the dismay of residents and was soon re-routed back to its old route. 

24 May saw the 14 upgraded to full low floor operation with 16 branded Tridents and spare vehicles from the pool Tridents, Excels and the odd Solo to meet an advertised guarantee of low floor access. Summer service on route 1 saw a Tuesday market day extension to Fleetwood with the route serving St. Annes in the school summer holidays, but otherwise running between Pontins and Cleveleys. City Sightseeing service 21 continued with Metrobus 864 (A964SYF) added to the fleet for the summer holidays when a 15 minute service was provided.
Two brand new Tridents 315 on the right and 317 to the left in the new pool livery await entry into service in May alongside old pool liveried Delta and Metrorider and two Atlanteans
13 October saw the introduction of new service 88 on weekday evenings between Cleveleys, Thornton and Poulton every hour on behalf of Lancashire County Council - this was interworked with Line 2 - a rare example of branded buses operating 'off route'. On the same day the tendered 158 (Preston to Blackpool) was extended to Knott End every evening and the 2 hourly Sunday daytime service was doubled to hourly but continued to terminate at Blackpool. Metroriders replaced the single deckers previously used.
3 November saw the Lytham to Poulton workings on route 2 extended to Thornton to replace a withdrawn Stagecoach service increasing the route PVR to 17. From the same day a new off peak tendered service 10 started from Blackpool to Mereside via Lytham Road, New 10 TC-Tesco via Lytham Rd, Watson Rd, Hawes Side Lane, Highfield Hotel, Midgeland Rd, Cherry Tree Road and Clifton Road to replace the seasonal 20 on Watson Road.

Arrivals and Departures
11 new buses arrived in 2003 - 9 Tridents 310-318 arrived in May and were launched on 23rd May. 310/2-317 entered service the following day with 311/8 a few days later. 317/8 were in pool livery, 310-6 in Line 14 colours. New Solos 283/4 - owned by Lancashire County Council and in Lifestyle Line maroon/cream arrived as their contribution to the extended Lifestyle Line service.
Withdrawals saw Atlanteans 333/6 retired in February, 337/40 in April, 334/9/41, 442 in May and 343-349 in July - decimating the fleet somewhat. Stored Metrorider 584-587 returned to use in September to allow Line 1 to be converted to minibus operation to release buses for a six bus emergency contract following the fire at Devonshire Road Primary School. 584-6 returned to store in November when the 1 was withdrawn for the winter, but 587 remained due to the increased need to minibuses on Line 2. 584-6 then returned to use again in December due to the repaint programme for Line 4 Solos.

410 was the first bus to receive the orange and yellow livery adopted for Line 1

6 January 2003 saw 410 returned to use in an unbranded orange and yellow livery, mooted to be a new pool scheme but it was duly branded in April 2003 for Line 1, bring Metro identity to this summer service. The service number was shown as "Schools + 1" as the buses continued to run on school specials. 408 followed in April, 366 and 407 in May; 367 and 409 in June and 365 in August.

371 shows the Line 11 colours applied to the 6 1989 Olympians after their mid life refurbishment

The refurbishment of the East Lancs bodied Olympians continued with all joining 368 in Line 11 livery. 373 emerged in January, 372 in February and 370/1 in March with 369 completing the process in August. Optare Solo 271 was the first to receive Line 4 Cadbury blue in January, while Metrorider 517 and 518 joined the rest of the 1998 batch in Line 2 colours in February and March respectively, reflecting the increased requirement caused by the extension of the 2 to Lytham. Repaints of Line 4 Solos resumed with 267 in November and 268 in December while Solo 503 became the 16th bus in Line 2 colours in December.
  • Line 1: 365-7, 407-410 (7)
  • Line 2: 503-518 (16)
  • Line 3: 261-266 (6)
  • Line 4: 267, 268, 271 (3)
  • Line 6: 108-110, 112-117 (9)
  • Line 7: 118/9, 125-129 (7)
  • Line 11: 122, 130-3, 368-79, 401/6 (19)
  • Line 14: 301-16 (16)
  • Old Pool: 123/4, 501/2, 589-595 (11).
  • New Pool: 317/8 (2)
This made 96 buses in Metro livery - up from 70 at the start of the year. The former Green and Cream livery was now carried by 34 buses (Deltas 101-7, Atlanteans 350-364, 443-445, 471-475, Olympians 402-405), the black based Handybus livery by three Metroriders: 585-587, the yellow based Handybus livery by 210-218, 269, 272-276, 584 and 588.