Thursday, 27 December 2012

Strange Apparition at Stonehenge

The Winter Solstice is traditionally celebrated at Stonehenge with a motley collection of vehicles accomodating the visitors. Amongst those this year was former Blackpool City Pacer 550 as shown in these photos:
Flickr E550GFR and Flickr E550GFR
Traveller Homes

550 ran from September 1987 to October 1995 and after a few months with JP of Middleton became a mobile home in 1996 and has returned to the road after some time untaxed.
Thanks to Shaun and Mark for the links.

More DAFs and Solo Repaints

Two further Solos have entered the paint shop - Line 2 liveried 247 and Line 3 liveried 297. When completed this will make 27 Solos in the new livery and 15 in Metro colours.

A further Manx DAF, 76, has arrived at Bus and Coach World, Blackburn and is parked with an unidentified sister.

The East Lancs Olympians are now departing for Parton of Carlton for scrap with 369 believed to have left recently.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Blackpool Transport Fleet Review of 2012

24 ex Bus Vannin double deckers joined the Blackpool Transport fleet during 2012. Here Trident 351 operates route 1

2012 has seen further contraction in the Blackpool Bus fleet from 149 plus three open tops to 144+3. For the second year running no new buses arrived, though an unprecedented 24 second hand double deckers entered service, all sourced from Bus Vannin on the Isle of Man.

Late 2011 had seen 343 (H1FBT) enter service having been the pilot refurbishment of 11 Manx Tridents. At the end of the year several sisters were present and Bus and Coach World, Blackpool with the remainder all on site by the end of February. The ten sisters arrived in Blackpool in stages, with 344 in January, 345/6 February, 347-8 March and the rest (349-353) in April. 344-6 entered service in March, 347/8 April and 349-353 in May. These directly replaced Leyland Olympians.

March saw the first of a batch of ten DAF DB250s with East Lancs bodywork new to Isle of Man in 2001 as 89-98. The first, 354 (IOM 97) was displayed at a conference in May, but it was not until July that it reached Blackpool with sisters 355-360. Sisters 361-3 arrived in August. The batch entered service in September (354-8) and October (359-363).

 A second batch started to arrive at Blackburn from August with IOM 54, 56, 78/9 and 81 so far delivered. Sisters 55, 57, 76, 77 and 80 remain in use on the Island but are expected to follow. Four have been delivered as 364/5 in September and 366/7 in October and they entered service in December. IOM 78 remains under refurbishment and should become 368. The DAFs have replaced the six East Lancs Olympians and several Optare Solos. Service reductions have seen bigger vehicles replace the smallest Solos - routes 2/2C and 17 generally now usually seeing bigger buses.
The surviving closed top Leyland Olympians were all retired during 2012 - ten having a final hurrah operating on special services for the Open Golf Championship - here is 416 on the first day

The 24 incoming buses have replaced 29 vehicles. The March Tridents saw off Olympians 402, 407 and 414, with sisters 411/6 off in April and 365, 408/12 in May. June saw 403, 405, 410, 413 and 417 laid up - 417 being the last orange and yellow Olympian in service on 26 June. Nine of these returned to use between 15 and 22nd July, wrapped in white based all-over adverts on special services from North Station and Starr Gate to the Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham St. Annes. 365, 402/3/5/10, 413, 415-417 were joined by East Lancs bodied 370 on this service. 370 and 417 saw school service use in the days before the event and several dropped out with failures during the week such that 370, 402, 403, 405, 410 and 413 were the only ones in use on the last day. All were finally withdrawn.

373 was the final Leyland Olympian to operate on 6 October
The other 5 East Lancs bodied Olympians soldiered on until 368 was stood down in September - the first new liveried bus to be withdrawn. The first week of October 2012 was to be the last week for the Leyland Olympians. Sadly they seemed too keen to retire and faults saw 369, 371 and 372 retired during the week leaving 373 to work a special last day on Saturday 6 October on route 9 ending its career with the 1748 Blackpool to Cleveleys and empty to depot. Other than open toppers 818, 857 and 873 the Leyland Olympian era is now over.

The remaining DAFs replaced all but two of the surviving initial 1999/2000 Solo batch with 267-9/71-2 withdrawn in October and 273/4 in November with 2002 vintage 280/1 also laid up in November.
The last Line 4 liveried Solos were retired during 2012. This is 271 earlier in its career.

Repaints continued but only 19 buses received the new livery and a further four gained adverts. Excel 226 and Solos 254/7 were treated in January with 256 in February. 223 and 301 were repainted in March along with 313 which received a side and rear advert for Tower Dungeon. 312 ran briefly with a black/yellow front on Line 14 livery in April but soon gained a side/rear wrap for Tower Eye with 315 following in May for Tussauds and 314 returning to use in early June promoting Sealife Centre. A hiatus then followed as the 10 golf Olympians were wrapped with their front ends painted white. A number of tram repaints took place before fleet livery bus repaints resumed after six months with Solos 242, 278, Trident 302 and the final pool livery Volvo Olympian 374 treated. Excels 212/5 and Solos 241/60 were painted in November, with Excels 216/7 and Solos 248, 249 and 277 following in December.
Trident 313 was the first of four advertising buses for the Merlin Entertainments group

Disposals of withdrawn vehicles commenced in February with stored 406 going for scrap followed by 366 in March after almost two years in store. Olympian 411 went for preservation in May, with 412/4 scrapped in August. 365, 402/5/15 left in October, 403, 410, 413, 416 and 417 in November. The six East Lancs Olympians and the nine Solos remain in store along with open top Olympian 858.

Other events saw Trident 310 sidelined with fire damage in on 7 April and after a period in store was being repaired in the body shop in December. Excels 223 and 226 returned to use after their engine change while 225 followed suit in August, ending the process started with 210 back in 2007. Meanwhile during the summer several Tridents had their roller blinds replaced by LED indicators - 318 was treated in June, with 319, 323/4/6-9, 331/2 and 338/9 following in August/September. Only Excels 210-218, Solos 249-260, 275/6, 286-293, Tridents 301-317, 322, 325, 330 and Olympians 374-9 retain roller blinds.

The fleet ends with 71 Double deckers (up 4) comprising 51 Tridents, 14 DAFs and 6 Olympians); 31 single deckers (17 Excels and 14 Volvo B7s unchanged) and 42 Solos (down 9). Three open top Olympians were used in 2012 but are stored for the winter as usual.

The year has seen the end of Metro Line 1, 4 and 5 liveries. Only 23 buses retain
New: 210-2, 214-7, 221-224, 226, 241/2, 248-257, 260, 277/8, 284-293, 301/2, 310, 322-367, 374-9, 520-533 (106)
Line 2: 240, 243-7, 294 (7)
Line 3: 258/9 295-7 (5)
Line 7: 213 225 (2)
Line 14: 303-309, 311/6 (9)
Pool: 218-220 275/6, 279, 282/3, 317-9 (11)
Adverts: 312-5 (4)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Twilight Part 2

Excel 223 crosses the tramway at Cleveleys on route 7

Solo 241 is a recent repaint - seen here on Clifton Street

The last new buses of the Metro era, 243 retains Line 2 livery

Trident 316 on Market Street

Centro 533 approaches the 9 terminus (Clifton Street) on Talbot Road,

Classic Bus Volvo B10M 899 loads on Bank Hey Street for Mereside on route 22

DAF Debuts

The first four of the second batch of Manx DAFs entered service on 17 December as 364-7. The fifth (former Bus Vannin 79)  remains at Bus and Coach World, while sisters 55, 57, 76, 77 and 80 remain in service on the Isle of Man.

Recently repainted Excel 216 was noted today on route 17 complete with two black panels on the normally yellow section on the nearside. Sister 217 has now been repainted leaving just 213 and 225 in Line 7 colours. Line 5 red is now eliminated after the repaint of 248 while sister 249 has lost Line 2 green. Both 317/8 have received rear end adverts on Metro pool livery.

Not previously noted here is that former Atlantean 350 was noted on the M61 on trade plates on 11 December.

Manx DAF Status
NoRegIOM NoIOM RegChassis NoBody NoArrivedService
355 L100BTS95FMN622J0092663830917/7/125/9/12
356L200BTS 93FMN621J 0092613830427/7/125/9/12
357L300BTS 94FMN620J0092643830727/7/125/9/12
358L400BTS 96FMN623J0092623830530/7/126/9/12
359L500BTS 98FMN836J0092653830831/7/124/10/12
360L600BTS 89FMN299J0092593830230/7/123/10/12
363L900BTS91FMN618J0092583830130/8/12 4/10/12
364J70BTS54FMN181P0094314110125/9/12 17/12/12
365J90BTS81FMN804T0098304110925/9/12 17/12/12

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Catch 22 Update

2nd January will see Classic Bus North West "Catch 22" service re-routed to serve Claremont and it will also be diverted along Warley Road between Devonshire Road and Warbreck Hill Road, last served by route 33 in 2001 other than a brief period when route 8 served the area in 2001/2. Changes to the afternoon peak times will be made

From 14th January the Monday to Friday service will increase to every 20 minutes - the Saturday service will remain half hourly - itself having been increased from hourly in November. This will increase the vehicle requirement to six.

To serve the additional requirement, a second Volvo B10M has been purchased from Stagecoach North West in the form of 898 R898XVM - which makes a twin with sister 899 (Darts 162/3 and Olympians 324/5 also make numeric pairs). Additionally a further London Dart, new to independent Armchair of Hounslow, but last used by Metroline has arrived as 145 T145AUA.

Classic Bus North West Fleet
145T145AUADennis DartAlexanderArmchair, Hounslow 5/99
162V162MAXDennis DartPlaxtonStagecoach East London 12/99
163 V163MAXDennis DartPlaxtonStagecoach East London 12/99
269P269PSXVolvo OlympianAlexanderLothian Buses 269
324N324NHGVolvo OlympianAlexanderDublin Bus RA264
325N325NHGVolvo OlympianAlexanderDublin Bus RA272
502P502UFROptare MetroriderOptareBlackpool 502
512X512UATDennis DartPlaxtonLondon United DP512 11/2000
528DCA528XBristol VRECWCrosville 528
533X533UATDennis DartPlaxtonLondon United DP513 11/2000
898R898XVMVolvo B10MAlexanderStagecoach Manchester
899R899XVMVolvo B10MAlexanderStagecoach Manchester
RML887202UXJAEC RoutemasterPark RoyalLondon Transport (Cummins Engine)
RM1568BNK324AAEC RoutemasterPark RoyalLondon Transport (Cummins Engine)
RML2290CUV290CAEC RoutemasterPark RoyalLondon Transport (Iveco Engine)
RML2734SMK734FAEC RoutemasterPark RoyalLondon Transport (Cummins Engine)

Twilight Scenes

Trident 353 poses under the Christmas Illumination outside Sands Venue near the Tower. It is heading to Lytham on route 11

353 then returned from Lytham as a 7 to Cleveleys and is seen under the moon at Lytham Square

Stagecoach Trident 18146 collects the passengers as Blackpool Trident 319 awaits a new driver

Centro 525 is working route 1 which has commonly seen double deckers this year. Most 'big bus' routes 1, 7, 9, 11 and 14 now see a mix of DDs and SDs, with routes 2 and 17 seeing mixed big and minibus workings and even route 16 now seeing a regular single deck working

Recent repaints have reduced the number of Line 7 Excels. Here 217 loads for Poulton on route 2 on Corporation Street

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cleveleys Bus Station reopens

8 December saw buses use the remodelled Bus Station in Cleveleys for the first time. The site closed after service on Sunday 29 July for what was planned to be a five week refurbishment with new boarding islands on the forecourt. Although work appeared complete some time ago, initial tests were unsuccessful and further work - including a one way section of road on Rough Lea Road to give buses easier access to the bays has been undertaken.

Boxing Day and New Years Day services

Blackpool Transport's Boxing Day and New Years timetables have been announced with a number of improvements. Several services have extended running times as timekeeping has often been an issue. This year the service pattern will be:

1 Starr Gate to Fleetwood Freeport every 30 minutes using five buses. (Extension from Cleveleys compared to last year with one extra bus)
5 Halfway House to Victoria Hospital every 60 minutes using two buses (as last year)
7 Cleveleys to Lytham Square every 60 minutes using three buses (one extra compared to last year)
9 Cleveleys to Blackpool every 30 minutes using three buses (as last year)
11 Grange Park to Lytham every 60 minutes using two buses (as last year)
14 Fleetwood to Mereside every 30 minutes using six buses (one extra compared to last year)

21 buses are now required compared to 18 last year.