Saturday, 23 July 2016

Olympian Farewell

Two of the final three Olympians captured together on service 1 earlier today
Today marked the final day in service for the 1994 Volvo Olympians with a special farewell event using 374, 375 and 377 on service 1.

374 started the day working the 0800 Freeport-Starr Gate then 0920, 1200, 1440 and 1730 from Starr Gate and 1040, 1320, 1600 from Freeport and finally the 1845 Fleetwood Ferry to Starr Gate.

375 worked the 0800, 1040 1320 and 1600 from Starr Gate and the 0920, 1200, 1440 and 1720 from Fleetwood while 377 ran 40 mintues later on the 0840, 1120, 1400 and 1640 from Starr Gate and 1000, 1240, 1520 and 1800 from Fleetwood. Some journeys ran quite late - thanks to traffic not the veteran buses - so some journeys turned short.

All three finished their day at Starr Gate - running late by 15-20 minutes on their final journeys. 375 was first back to depot around 1900, 377 around 1930 and finally 374 entered depot at 2006 bringing down the curtain on 95 years of step entrance bus operation by Blackpool Transport and its predecessors. All service buses are now fully accessible and PSVAR complaint.

Blackpool Transport owned six Volvo Olympians and 33 Leyland Olympians. The first (365-7) arrived second hand in 1986, followed by six new in 1989, 10 from Trent in 1996/7, 7 from Lancashire United in 2007 and seven new to London open toppers from 2006 - these were all withdrawn from 2009 to 2012.

The Volvos arrived in November 1994 and entered service on route 6 on the 14th, quickly switching to 22/22A. They were the only buses delivered in the 1990s cream roof livery. In the Metro era they started life on the 14, but in 2002 had their first repaint into Line 11 livery. They later gained pool livery between 2004 and 2006, but 379 returned to Line 11 livery in 2007. They gained the current BTS livery in 2011 (375-9) and 2012 (374). 375-9 were fitted with seat belts for school baths contracts in 2011 and settled into a life of mainly school services while 374 enjoyed more regular local service work.

379 was withdrawn in May 2014 with electrical faults and went for scrap in February 2015, its seat belts were transferred to sister 374 to retain the five school buses. Local service work was occasional - more recently 374 on 10/17 on 2 June while 374 and 375 worked on the 14 towards the end of the month.

The final trio will now be stored pending disposal along with 376 and 378 which were withdrawn in June. All five are expected to go for scrap, unless an 11th hour preservation approach takes place.

Lost Lifestyle
Also due to be withdrawn this weekend are Solos 277 and 279 joining sisters 278 and 284 which last ran in June. These are the last of the eight Lifestyle Line Solos, the the last of 24 Mercedes engined ones.

Local enthusiast Rob Bray was out for a last ride or two and has kindly shared some photos. This is 374's upperdeck at Freeport - note the standard bus seats fitted to the rear some years ago. These seats were swapped with 379s to transfer the seat belts when the latter was withdrawn in 2014 (Rob Bray)

374 awaits departure from Freeport (Rob Bray)

A rear view of 374 as it leaves North Pier for Starr Gate. (Rob Bray)

374 loads at North Pier (Rob Bray)

A last minute addition to 375 was this Starr Gate destination. When new blinds were fitted to the bus fleet c2010, route 1 terminated at the Airport and 'Starr Gate' had to be added to the blinds when the terminus later changed. It was noticed before service that 375 was not so treated and this was quickly rectified! (Rob Bray)
377 won't see the screening of Jason Bourne on 27 July. It is seen starting its final day at Starr Gate (Rob Bray)

Last run - 374 arrives back at depot at 2006 (Paul Turner)

Last run - 374 arrives back at depot at 2006 (Paul Turner)