Monday, 25 June 2012

The Metro Years: 2007

17 August and day two for Line 16 as brand new Solo 286 heads south to Fleetwood on Lytham Road. This was one of a number of seemingly illogical destinations, Fleetwood being 7 miles north of Blackpool and Line 16 duly headed 4 miles south to Squires Gate before finally heading north but it would be 20 more miles before the bus finally reached Fleetwood
2007 saw the arrival of the first Optare Solos since 2004. The eight strong batch (286-293) arrived between 4 and 17 April in a light blue and yellow livery. This was the new identity for Lifestyle Line L1 which was now integrated into the Metro branding as Line 16. The service was launched on 16 April with 286-291 in use - the full allocation made up by two of the existing L1 Solos. 292/3 arrived the following day and went into service on the 18th. The Lifestyle Line Solos were cascaded onto other work. During May 277/8/80 received pool livery (eventually replacing 588-590) while between June and July 279, 281-4 received Line 2 colours (to cascade 514-518, 595 elsewhere).
289 passes Olympian 370 at Halfway House. The Olympian is working a school days only duplicate  from  Collegiate High School to Manchester Square
Other service changes during 2007 saw Line 1 become a year round operation to replace the tramway which began a period of winter closures. A challenging timetable was adopted from 5 November with a 20 minute daytime and 30 minute evening frequency. Only five buses were allocated Monday to Friday with six on Saturdays and Sundays but it was soon apparent that  a 100 minute round trip was hugely optimistic. This was further compounded by roadworks on the Promenade with southbound buses diverting via Dickson Road and Talbot Road from November to February. On 6 December the Saturday timetable was adopted for all weekdays requiring an extra bus. 5 2002 Dennis Tridents were purchased from Lancashire United (having been taken over with the Blackburn Transport business). These long wheelbase 90 seaters all received Line 1 orange and yellow and formed the core allocation to the 1, but supplemented by veteran Olympians.
Trident 337, new to Blackburn Transport and outshopped in Line 1 colours crosses the tramway at Rossall Lane. This section of route was soon abandoned as the road was deemed too narrow to safely pass other buses and buses used Larkholme Lane to reach Broadwater.
Blackpool Transport also took over Lancashire United's small outstation at Jackson's Coaches depot on Burton Road, Blackpool. Seven Olympians and their school contracts were taken on with former Blackburn 30-36 becoming 411 (D367JJD), 412 (OFS684Y) and 413-417 (A703/4/19-21YFS) in the Blackpool fleet. 411 was new to London Buses and featured the last ECW body. 412-417 were dual door examples new to Lothian in Edinburgh and also featured Leyland TL11 engines - the first Olympians so equipped in the Blackpool fleet.
The ex Blackburn Olympians retained their two tone green and yellow livery. Here 415 leads 414, 417, 413, 365 and 408 at St Bede's School in Lytham
Minor changes saw route 4 change from 21 May 2007 to follow Line 3 through Claremont - while the short lived St. Annes Roamer 72 cased on 30 March 2007 with Redline taking over for a brief period before the service ended later in the year. The contracted evening journeys on route 88 (Cleveleys to Poulton) were replaced by extending Line 2.

Summer service route 20 was revised to run from Pontins to Marton Mere via Tower and Zoo with a half hourly frequency using three buses. Open toppers were used after their unsuccessful year on Line 1. Further Olympians arrived with 844 (D244FYM) for the Manchester tour and 857/8 (D257/8FYM) in a generic livery for both Blackpool and Manchester work. Metrobuses 802, 815 and 864 went back to Ensign leaving 892 in use on the Manchester tour and 814 in store.
Metrorider 518 in the new Line 10 livery in May
Metrorider withdrawals started with 593 in March 2007. This was replaced on Line 10 with 518 which had been painted from Line 2 livery into a new silver grey livery for the service (as the light blue colour was adopted for the 16). 593's retirement was brief as it emerged in April in pool livery to replace 591 which was withdrawn. 593 had a tachograph and outlasted its sisters as it could do private hire work. The Solo cascades onto Line 2 saw 514-517 repainted into pink/yellow for Line 15 in August and September. There of the existing Line 15 (584-6) buses were withdrawn in June - one the first L1 Solos had received pool livery. 584/5 and Line 2 595 were sent on loan to Arriva in Darlington at the end of June, returning two months later. August saw 588 withdrawn with 587 following in September and 588/90 in October.
Second generation for Line 15 with 514 having replaced older sisters earlier in the year

Despite the official Atlantean farewell, 363/4 continued in use and were joined on 6 January 2007 by 353 and 360 due to an extension of the Starr Gate to North Pier tram replacement service to Thornton Gate. After a month 358 replaced 360. Delta trainers 969/70 (ex 129/30) entered service in February and Atlantean 922 was duly withdrawn. Its sister 923, withdrawn in 2006, was sold for scrap on 6 July 2007 with Delta 117. Delta 128 was withdrawn at the end of the year and sold to Preston Bus for use as a driver trainer with Blackpool converting it to a similar specification to 969/70.
Atlantean 353 returned to use in January 2007 and is seen here on a regular Atlantean duty providing extra capacity on Line 7 on Lytham Club Day, 23 June 2007
Optare Excel refurbishments commenced during the spring with 210 the first to go to Cummins for a new engine. The upgraded ISB engine was expected to address the unreliability of the original configuration. 211 and 212 were also treated during the year and the programme would continue until 2012.

Routine repaints saw Line 1 Olympians refreshed with 367, 406/7 all treated in January. The four lilac buses from Line 20 received Lien 1 livery - 404 in January and 402/3 in February and 401 in March. Oddly 405 missed out on this round of repaints. April saw 115, 116 and 593 receive pool livery. In November 115/6 went back into Line 11 livery alongside 379. Repaints of the Blackburn Tridents had taken up most of October and in December the first of the Olympians (417) was repainted into Line 1 colours.
Atlantean 364 also survived the farewell event and is seen here on temporary service 30 service parts of St. Annes otherwise inaccessible to the usual services 
Several demonstrators appeared again. Enviro 400 double decker SN56AWW ran on the 11 in June, Solo YJ56APY on the 2/2C in January, Dart SN56AYB performed on the 11 in January and Volvo B7/Wright BX07AXJ ran on the 11 in August

Delta 130 as driver trainer 970 (with 969 behind). Alongside is Solo 284 still in Lifestyle Line livery and acting as spare bus for the 16.
End of Year Liveries
  • Line 1: 333-337, 365-9, 401-410, 417 (21)
  • Line 2: 249, 279, 281-5, 501-513, (20)
  • Line 3: 258-264 (7)
  • Line 4: 265-9, 271/2 (7)
  • Line 5: 250-257 (8)
  • Line 6: 104-110, 112-114 (10)
  • Line 7: 210-7 (8)
  • Line 10: 518 (1)
  • Line 11: 115/6, 118/9, 122, 125-7, 132/3, 322-32, 379 (22)
  • Line 14: 301-16 (16)
  • Line 15: 514-7 (4)
  • Line 16: 286-293 (8)
  • Pool: 101-3, 123/4, 218-221, 273-8, 280, 317-9, 370-8, 592-4/6 (31)
  • Green and Cream: 353/8, 363/4 (4)
  • Blackburn green/yellow: 411-416 (6)