Sunday, 16 September 2018

Catch 22 Fleet Update

YJ10EYZ newly delivered to the Catch 22 depot in Marton (Philip Higgs)
Catch 22 has added a fourth Optare Versa to its fleet. YJ10EYZ has been purchased from Llew Jones of Llanwrst - though is wasn't used there. It was used previously by Helms of Eastham. Four Dennis Darts are also due shortly from Stagecoach Midlands as KP04GZM, KP04GZR, GX54DWO and GX54DWP. These are expected to replace ex Cardiff Darts.

Ex Cardiff Dart W369VHB has left the fleet, while newer Y378/82/8GAX are withdrawn awaiting disposal along with the last Volvo B6 W812PFB and Dennis Trident S833BWC.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

News Update

For Blackpool Airshow on 11th and 12th August Blackpool Transport ran a "Park and Glide" shuttle bus from a car park at Blackpool Airport to Starr Gate tram terminus. It was well used each day. 232 is seen at Starr Gate (Mike Wilson)
Blackpool Transport
Illumination weekend timetables start from Saturday 1st November, with some frequency reductions and running time increases.

Another route change in Blackpool Town Centre on 23rd July saw the 2, 2C, 12, 18 and 19 move to Topping Street following the closure of Abingdon St/Talbot Road Bus Station. Routes 5, 6 and 7 are also running through St John's Square from Clifton Street to Topping Street.

Catch 22
Not previously reported is the arrival of Y401NHK - a new to Stagecoach East London Alexander bodied Dennis Trident - this is in service in the new livery also seen on the repainted Versa. Following the disposal of Dart 147 for preservation, SN55HSK has taken its duties as a tow vehicle.

Solo Disposals and Tridents 347/8 pictures

Three more Solos have left the Blackpool Transport fleet today with 242/7/8 sold to Redfern Travel. DAF 363 has passed to Ashcroft's Runcorn. 

Former Blackpool 347 and 348 have settled into a new career with Lodge's of High Easter (David Bell - with thanks to David for sharing these and also for Paul Wigan for passing the on the photos)



Saturday, 4 August 2018

News Round Up

Blackpool Transport
359 is the latest DAF to be withdrawn and has joined sisters in store at Jacksons Coaches, Marton. Solo 242 is now also on SORN, sister 248 has been noticed on driver training duties on 23 July.

Timetabled Rail Replacement work from Blackpool North to Preston finally ended on Sunday 29th July. Some BTS buses have been on standby at Blackpool North and have also been observed on some South line rail replacements and the continuing Saturday work between Wigan and Manchester. Examples of 436-442 have been noted on local services since then. 

A 'Park and Glide' service is advertised for the weekend of 11th and 12th August - when Blackpool Airshow is on. This uses a car park at Blackpool Airport and a shuttle bus to Starr Gate tram stop. 

Former Tridents 344 is in service with Tanat Valley - photo here, sister 346 is also in their livery (photo), with no further report of 343 yet.

Catch 22 Bus
Catch 22 has introduced a new livery with Versa YJ61JHH in this "lime green and Monsoon Blue" livery similar to that used on the affiliated Sightseeing Bus operation in Manchester and Birmingham (Philip Higgs)

Coastal Coaches
Not previously reported is service 78 was diverted in Ansdell to reinstate a service on Commonside from late June. It runs from South Hey via Worsley Road, Central Drive, Gordon Road, Commonside to rejoin the previous route at Blackpool Road. Other than school buses, Commonside was unserved from 26 March when Stagecoach diverted its 68 away. 

358 with Dekkabus

Former BTS DAF 358 has been refurbished internally by its new owner Dekkabus - high backed seats feature throughout. It has also now been re-registered F5HOR These pictures have been kindly provided by Mark Self from Dekkabus. 





Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Snippets

Blackpool Transport Solos 242 and 248 remain licensed, all others have been delicensed on entry into service of the Enviro 200s. Neither is understood to have been used, however. 

The new buses have settled into their 3 and 4 duty - 3 are spare each day and one seems common on the 19, with others noted on the 17 and 18. Sundays sees the former Solo duties covered on 2, 2C, 3, 4, 17, 18 and 19. With Palladium DDs on the 1, 6, 7, 9 and 11 and singles on the 5 - it is now normal to see a 100% Palladium Sunday service.

Catch 22 bus has regularly operated open toppers from the affiliated Sightseeing Tours operation on its Beach Bus 26 operation. These tend to return to Blackpool from outbases for maintenance. Olympian P534EFL, Tridents V158/68MEV have been noted - the latter most frequently. Dart 361 is the most common bus otherwise. 

On Diversion - Seafield Road

From 25 June for 3 weeks the 7, 11 and 68 were diverted in Lytham due to the closure of Church Road. Here BTS DAF 367 and a Stagecoach Enviro call at the replacement stop for Lytham Square on West Beach (Brian Turner)

To return to Church Road, buses used Seafield Road - used by Lytham Buses in the 1930s to avoid the tram service on Church Road. This year it was used to turn the 11 duing Club Day, 23 June - but its use is otherwise quite rare, Fairlawn Road further north is the more common alternative for diversions. DAF 370 turns from West Beach into Seafield Road (Brian Turner) 
Trident 328 heads down Seafield Road (Brian Turner)


Volvo B7RLE 522 turns from Seafield Road before passing the last surviving concrete bus shelter. (Brian Turner)

Monday, 25 June 2018

Old and New Order on the 3 and 4

Brand New Enviro 200 number 222 approaches Mereside turning circle on its way to Tesco on 25 June (Brian Turner) 
Two together at Tesco terminus 230 and 232 on their first day in service (Brian Turner)


Direct to the door? Solo 238 gets closer to the Tesco checkouts than normal, this was one of two buses used for launch events - 229 at Cleveleys was the other (Brian Turner)

Solo 240 leaves the temporary stop on Abingdon Street on a service 4 to Mereside on 21 June (Brian Turner)

286 turns from Dickson Road into Talbot Road. Solos have dominated the 3 since it launched in April 2001 - 17 years of continuous allocation has concluded. (Brian Turner)

Sister bus 287 at Northumberland Avenue, Cleveleys Park (24 June) (Brian Turner) 
291 at the 3 and 4 stop on Abingdon Street on 21 June (Brian Turner)


Debut Day

The 18 new Enviro 200s made their debut today. 221-8, 230-7 all ran on the 3 and 4 while 229 and 238 acted as launch buses at Cleveleys and Mereside Tesco resp. 

Pictures can be seen on Mike Rhodes Flickr site here.

436-455 now have ticket machine bases fitted, some are still on rail replacements but others entered regular service today.

Update: 443-55 are now in the normal service fleet, 436-42 remain dedicated to rail work.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Its a wrap for 857

Green and Cream in Rigby Road - Trident 332, B7RLE 524, Atlanteans 362 and 364 taken from outside Totally Models today (Paul Turner)

Open top Olympian 857 made an appearance at Lytham Club Day in an all-over wrap for Lytham Festival. It will be the shortest lived bus advertising livery as its only for this one day! A picture is here on the festival's Facebook page. It has also recently put in an appearance at RVPT's Morecambe event on Sunday 26th May alongside ex Fylde Atlantean 71, Lytham PD2 10 and Blackpool PD3 512.

Further Solo and DAF withdrawals have taken place with DAFs 360, 361 and 362 now out of use and Solos 241 and 295 have joined 288 and 297 in store.

Blackpool Transport's rail replacement commitment has been extended again, but is reduced to around 7 buses. 

This weekend is Totally Models at Rigby Road - Atlantean 362 and Swift 554 are on the free bus service today, with RVPT's Ribble PD3 1775 and Bristol VR 1995 allocated for Sunday.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Solos Sold

Solos 249 and 257 have been sold locally to Archway, of Fleetwood. 257 was the last of the 2003 Solos to operate and was withdrawn on 23 May. Trident 345 is now reported with Abbey Coachways in Goole. DAF 358 left Blackpool last Friday and is under refurbishment for Dekkabus of Poole. Sisters 354-7 are now in store, with the last Manx Trident 353.

Service Changes and round-up

More details of the BTS summer services are now available from 24th June - the 1, 6, 7, 14 and 20 are involved and 8 more vehicles are needed v the winter timetable with a requirement for 98 buses. 

  • Service 1 - Increased to every 20 minutes Monday-Friday from 30 mins (8 PVR v 5)
  • Service 6 - Sunday daytime service increased to every 20 minutes
  • Service 7 - Monday to Friday increased from every 20 to every 15 minutes (13 PVR v 10)
  • Service 14 - Monday to Friday increased from every 12 to every 10 minutes (13 PVR v 11)
  • Service 20 - withdrawn between Zoo and Preston New Road. Will run every 30 minutes Tower to Zoo 0945-1745 from Tower and 915 to 1815 from Zoo - meaning the first two outward journeys from the Zoo are before it opens at 1000! It remains weekends and school holidays only. 2 buses v 3 currently.
Not previously reported is that the service 5 school bus from Halfway House to Victoria Hospital has been cancelled, presumably from the March timetable change. Monday 11th June will see the 5, 6 and 7 stop on the Promenade rather than Market Street for a period as part of the tram extension work. The 17 will use Corporation Street instead.

The Rail Replacement contract has been further extended until 24 June due to well reported reliability issues. This gives a further stay of execution to the ex Manx DAFs, many of which are likely to be withdrawn when the E400s are cascaded onto the 7 and 11. 

All 18 of the Enviro 200s had arrived by the end of May, registration details are on the fleetlist page. Branding has started and some photos are here on Alistair Liddle's page. One is reported by BTS to be featuring in the Pride parade on Saturday 9th June. 

Trident 343 was reported back at Rigby Road on 31 May, presumably ready for collection by Tanat Valley. 

Preston Bus has confirmed the disposal of former Blackpool Delta K128UFV for scrap after use as a driver trainer. This was the last new to Blackpool Delta to survive, but sadly suffered a major engine failure which has rendered preservation proposals uneconomic. Their Blackpool outstation was home to:

  • Volvo Coaches 11519/23-5
  • Mercedes Coach 12000
  • Ford Transit 15041
  • Solos 20771/2/80, 20802/31
  • Dennis Tridents 40007, 40583/8
  • Scania double decker 40030
  • DAF double decker 40201

Friday, 25 May 2018

More Trident Disposals

Tanat Valley of Llanrhaeadr-Ym-Mochnant near Oswestry has acquired three of the ex Isle of Man Tridents - 343 (H1FBT), 344 (E11BTS) and 346 (E13BTS). 343 has been re-registered W393TBV. 344 has been reported under repaint, 343 was awaiting collection. The last Manx Trident remaining unsold is 353 - this has been taken out of service and is on SORN now.

Ex Bus Vannin Isle of Man Tridents
NoRegIOM NoIOM RegDisposalDateRegistration if changed
343H1FBT53EMN53YTanat Valley May 2018 W393TBV
344E11BTS50EMN50YTanat ValleyMay 2018n/a
345  E12BTS  48EMN50YStockdale, Selby April 2018n/a
346E13BTS51EMN51YTanat ValleyMay 2018n/a
347E14BTS52EMN52YLodge, High Easter Dec 2017n/a 
348E15BTS49EMN49YLodge, High Easter Dec 2017n/a
349E16BTS71MAN93FReading BusesJan 2018 X399KBV
350E17BTS75GMN324F Reading BusesJan 2018X393KBV
351E18BTS74FMN540EReading BusesJan 2018 X401KBV
352E19BTS73FMN412EReading BusesJan 2018 X398KBV
353E20BTS72FMN158Estill BTStbcn/a

Monday, 21 May 2018

BTS Summer timetable

24th June is the start date for the summer timetable. Registrations for services 1, 6, 7, 14 and 20 have been recorded, the 1 will run every 20 minutes, 7 every 15 minutes, 14 every 10 minutes. No details of the changes to the 6 and 20 are available.

Route 20 is currently terminating at Clifton Arms, with buses laying over by Little Marton Windmill, presumably turning at the M55 roundabout. Buses display "Preston New Road for Marton Mere".

Blackpool North to Preston rail replacement work is continuing beyond the start of the new timetable yesterday with services shown until 3 June. 





Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Last Excel Returns North

The sole surviving Blackpool Excel, 225 (T935EAN) has returned to Lancashire today. One of five bought from Reading, it was the last of its type in service in November 2016, it was sold to Morton's Travel of Basingstoke in May 2017. It formed part of Adrian Morton's preserved collection. Morton's recently changed hands and Adrian has sold many of his collection. It has been purchased by Mark Mccarrick and is moving to the Town and District Transport Trust premises near Accrington.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

More deliveries, more diversions

Two further Enviro 200s are now in stock, with 223/4 arriving on Thursday as well as 221/2 as reported. The batch will be 221 to 238 and are 34 seaters. 

The town centre diversions, expected from 9th May, now take effect from Monday 14th with the 5 and 7 using Clifton Street and 6 Corporation Street northbound.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Solo in the Movies - DAF Trainer into Preservation

Former Blackpool Solo 274 is due to become a film star as it is currently in the Great Yarmouth area for filming work for a Danny Boyle film. It retains Halton's livery and has regained its original registration V274HEC in lieu of the dateless plate used by Halton. A fake plate is carried for filming.

971 (W471MKU) - the single deck driver trainer - has been delivered to the South Yorkshire Transport Trust premises near Rotherham today for preservation. This was one of 11 East Lancs bodied DAFs delivered new to Yorkshire Terrier in 2000. It was purchased in July 2013 from Stagecoach Sheffield (successor to Terrier) and finally entered service as a driver trainer in April 2015. It was out of use by March 2018, with Trident 339 under preparation as its replacement.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

First Enviro 200 arrives

The first new midibus for nine years has arrived today, as YX18KWA - one of 18 Alexander Dennis Enviro 200s due. These are expected to replace the remaining 21 Optare Solos. They carry the Palladium livery and many of the features of the last batch of Enviro 400s are included. The new bus is illustrated on the Blackpool Transport twitter page linked below. Update - YK18KWB also arrived today.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Diversions and Route Changes

Some minor route changes are taking place during May to Blackpool Transport's network:

  • Saturday 5 May - service 20 will now start/finish at Clifton Arms on Preston New Road, following Haven's awarding of a concession to use Marton Mere to Catch 22's service 26.
  • Monday 7 May - service 18 will now serve Stanley Park via Mere Road, West Park Drive and Knowsley Avenue. This is a temporary arrangement until daily service on the 20 resumes in the summer
  • Wednesday 9 May - various route changes are registered from this day, when access is available to Clifton Street in Blackpool Town Centre once more. Routes 2, 2C, 5, 6, 7, 12, 18 and 19 are affected

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Rail Replacements, Repaints, Disposals

The delayed re-opening of the Blackpool North line took place on 16th April, however only with one train per hour as crew training continued. Rail Replacement buses are continuing until at least 5th May, possibly until the new timetable starts on 20 May - when electric trains will make their debut. The bus service now runs every 30 minutes on the direct and 'all stations' routes, with the peak fasts to or from Poulton retained.

Trident 313 is currently under a repaint into the old black and yellow livery following removal of its Sands Venue wrap. It has carried this since late May 2014 - one of the longest lived all-over adverts. 313 has only carried the fleet livery for about two months. It received its first advert - for Tower Dungeon - in 2012, replacing its Metro green base. When this expired, along with sisters 312/4/5 which had schemes for other venues, it was painted into fleet livery. However the Sands advert came along and as the only ones without advert frames, freshly painted 313 was chosen.

Sales are reported for Tridents 344 and 345 - the latter possibly to Stockdale of Selby (who have 334/7). DAF 358 is also reported as sold. 



Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Survivors Update


Former Blackpool Trident 351 (E18BTS) is now Reading Buses 535 (X401KBV). Yesterday it was one of two ex Blackpool Tridents used on the first day of Reading's service 7 between Reading and Fleet, which has been taken over from Stagecoach. It is seen here in Hartley Wintney (Steve Foster - see his Flickr for more)
A number of former Blackpool Buses have changed hands, or appearance, recently. These are tracked on the Survivors page on this blog. The four Tridents sold to Reading have now entered service as seen above. 

Solo 284 has passed to The Eden, West Auckland where it has replaced older sister 282 which is now with Huw's Coaches in Caernarfon. Some of the original 15 Solos of early 2000 are still in use. Yorkshire Tiger sold its last two for scrap last year (262/4) but Blackpool Council still uses 267 for the tramway track gang, while Halton retains two of the six it bought (272 and 276). 273 is understood to still be with Star of Aylesbury and 269 with John's Blaenau.

Chepstow Classic Buses has repainted former PD3 518 (HFR518E) in original livery - its first repaint since Blackpool Transport painted it in 1989 on disposal to its first private owner. Pics on their Facebook page here. 518 joins fellow PD3s 512 and 529 as repainted in the six months.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Not quite 'in the jungle' but Lion 44 slumbers awaiting a new home 14th April 2018 (Philip Higgs)

An 81 year old relic of the Fylde's transport past has been thrust into the limelight thanks to a Facebook 'market place' advert. Between 1935 and 1937 Lytham St. Annes Corporation bought 25 Gearless Leylands, 11 Lions to replace its older Guys on local services and 14 Titans to replace the Lytham trams. 44 (BTF24) was the last of Lions. It arrived at Squires Gate Depot in late March 1937 - its date of registration was the 25th. The 11 Lions were made up of four Burlingham bodied examples, 29-31 of 1935 and 32 of 1936- all these became open toppers in 1946. The rest were Leyland bodied - 33, 34 and 40 of 1936 and 41 to 44 in 1937.

Withdrawals of the Leyland bodied Gearless Lions commenced in 1956 with 44 the last to operate around August 1962, having soldiered on alone after 43 was retired in 1959. An ex Lancaster Leyland Tiger replaced it. Two Gearless Lions survived into preservation, 34 (BTB928) and 44. 34 started off with the West of England Transport Collection at Winkleigh. After a few further owners it was acquired by Fylde in 1988 and restored - returning to use in early 1992. It passed with the business to Blackpool Transport who continued to use it for a few more years. It fell into disuse and passed to LTT (now Fylde Transport Trust) in 2008. Re-restoration was completed last year - but an engine knock has sidelined it.

44 was stored for a while by Lytham, passing through a dealers hands to Pyatt and Steele, Cheadle for preservation - it appeared at a rally at Stanford Hall on 10 September 1967. In 1971 it was purchased by Terry Robinson for the Three Counties Historic Vehicle Society and moved to Haxey near Doncaster and was rallied again. Next owner in the late 1970s was Dennis Bonsall of Long Bennington (Lincs) but in 1983 was noted with Reigate Coaches in a green based livery at an LT depot open day. Reigate Coaches was owned by Les Burchell, who continues to own Blackpool Leyland Tiger 7 today.

44 on arrival at Haxey following purchase by Terry Robinson (Brian Maguire)
44's final tax disc expired in November 1985 and it went into store. In 1997 it was purchased by Allan Haynes of Hingham and was stored at Attleborough for a while. In 1999 it was purchased by Rexquote - a Somerset heritage operator now known as Quantock Motors. From there it passed to Phil James of Cardigan - who was involved in the restoration of Lytham's non Gearless Lion 24 (TJ6760). From there it was purchased by its current owners - the Higgins family of Cheshire.

They owned a Rawtenstall Tiger - originally Gearless but by now manual; and a Ribble converted tow wagon. Sadly 44 hasn't been restored and has now been offered for sale. At least one offer has been made to secure the bus for possible future restoration - and hopefully we can report on its future here soon.

Looking rather careworn - the interior of 44 (Philip Higgs)

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

New and Old

Modernisation of the Blackpool bus fleet continues. Sunday saw Enivro 400s operating on seasonal service 20 - once home to the oldest Atlanteans or Olympians (Paul Turner)

The first of the new Enviro 200s has been inspected by BTS this week, with delivery of the batch planned for the 2nd and 3rd weeks in May. Assuming they replace all 21 Solos - then they will bring to an end 31 years of Optare bus operation by Blackpool Transport. In that time 165 new Optare buses and 14 second hand ones have been operated.


Recent press coverage has focused on the proposed relocation of the bus fleet from the 1920s bus depot to a new site possibly at Blackpool Airport. This is one of a number of points discussed at a recent council meeting (reports linked here). Of interest is a trial of park and ride- though this is understood to be an illuminations period one form Squires Gate - as tried a few years ago.

Three redundant buses have left the fleet. Solo 255 has passed to a local buyer for parts then scrap, while Trident 338 and fire damaged DAF 366 have gone for scrap to Parton's of Barnsley - 338 on 3 April and 366 on 10th.


Friday, 30 March 2018

Road Works Road Works Road Works

Tuesday 3rd April sees another change in the location of the tram extension enabling roadworks presently afflicting Blackpool town centre. This removes access to Clifton Street, and also blocks Corporation Street. Flow through St John's Square will be reversed. Buses 2, 2C, 18 and 19 will now run through St John's Square to terminate at Abingdon Street (rather than Topping Street) then return via Talbot Road and as present. The 5, 6 and 7 northbound will now pick up on the Promenade (at West Street) rather than Clifton Street.

This should last until 9 May when Clifton Street reopens, but Corporation Street will remain closed until 2 July. Cookson Street will be closed from Cookson Street to George Street and also Caunce Street will be closed between King Street and Cookson Street from 9 May to 1 June. This should have little impact on services.

However Market Street will be closed between Talbot Road and West Street from 22nd May to 2 June - this will prevent the 5, 6 and 7 from accessing Market Street - but presumably terminating 11, 17 and 68 will be able to turn via Church St, Corporation Street and West Street.

Finally - at least for now - Talbot Road is to be closed between the Stand and Abingdon Street from 21 May until August. Assuming Clifton Street is accessible this suggests northbound buses will use Clifton St/Abingdon Street and Southbound ones Springfield Road as present. 

Enviro 200s

The new Enviro 200s will be similar to demonstrator YX17NXA used in May 2017. It is seen here on service 4 at Mereside (Brian Turner)
Blackpool Transport has confirmed the planned arrival of 18 new Enviro 200s in May. These are to replace the remaining 21 Optare Solos and will mainly operate on services 3 and 4. These will complement the 55 Enviro 400 double deckers recently added to the fleet. This is significantly earlier than the October date planned last summer when the fleet plan was presented to Blackpool Council. It is understood that the 4 Enviros planned for delivery in March 2018 are no longer required and that 103 vehicles are to be purchased from 2016-2020 rather than 107 as previously reported. A further 30 vehicles are expected in 2019/2020 to replace the remaining Dennis Tridents.

Beach Bus 26

Saturday 5th May will see the start of 'Beach Bus 26' a new service provided by Catch 22 Bus from Marton Mere Caravan Park. Marton Mere had understood that a daily service would operate into Blackpool this summer, despite the withdrawal of services 15/16 and advertised this accordingly in their 2018 marketing. However with BTS only providing a weekend and local school holiday service on the 20, other operators were approached to see if they could fill the gap. Two operators submitted proposals and that of Catch 22 Bus was accepted. 

Beach Bus 26 will run hourly from Saturday 5 May until the end of the Illuminations. It will be a limited stop service from Marton Mere to Blackpool Tower, then all stops along the Promenade to Pleasure Beach, then back to Marton Mere via Yeadon Way in a one way loop. An evening service will be provided during the summer school holidays and on Illuminations Saturdays. Dennis Trident 833 is to be the dedicated bus.

thanks to Catch 22 Bus for the above background information.

Catch 22 Darts 186 (X186CTG) and 386 (Y386GAX) have left the fleet for scrap. This completes the disposal of the MPD Darts, except for 147 (T147DAX) which its retained as a towing bus. Ex First B6 813 (W813PFB) has also left. 

The associated Manchester Sightseeing Tours is expanding with new tours in Birmingham and Leeds during 2018. Two more open toppers Dennis Trident V168MEV has joined the fleet from Golden Tours and Volvo Olympian P534EFL has joined from Stagecoach North West. The 'Sightseeing Manchester' tour has been using three Dennis Tridents V362OWC and V158MEV (both ex Golden Tours) and W501RBB (ex Yorkshire Tiger). 501 put an unexpected appearance on Catch 22 service 21 on 27 February as an emergency cover for a failed bus.

Monday, 26 March 2018

March Round Up

Rail Replacement
Network Rail missed the 26th March deadline for reopening the Blackpool North line and this is now delayed until 16th April. BTS are continuing to provide rail replacement duties. They are also providing buses for weekend rail replacement between Wigan and Manchester.

New Driver Trainer
Withdrawn Dennis Trident 339 has been repainted into grey recently and is understood to be joining sister buses 973/4 (ex 303/4) as driver trainers. It seems likely that DAF 971 would be replaced, indeed it is already on 'SORN'.

Sold Tridents
The four Tridents sold to Reading Buses, 349 to 352 have been re-registered X399/393/401/398XBV resp ex E16 to E19BTS. They are numbered 534, 532, 535 and 532 resp in the Reading fleet. 532, ex 350, is seen in this flickr photo.

Blackpool Transport Bank Holiday Services
Unusually Blackpool Transport has advertised special bank holiday timetables for some of its services, rather than the usual Sunday service. 2, 3, 4, 5, 17, 18, 19 and 20 will run on their Sunday service, with special timetables on the 1, 2C, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 14. The 2C will extend to Knott End as it did last year on Bank Holidays, the 1, 6, 7 and 9 will run every 20 minutes instead of every 30 minutes, the 11 and 14 will retain their Sunday frequencies (30 and 20 mins resp) but at different times. Unusually this means the 1 has a higher frequency on bank holidays than for the rest of the spring period. It runs every 30 minutes on a daily basis otherwise.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Back on Squires Gate Bridge

The rebuilt Squires Gate Bridge is reopening early this evening and Blackpool Transport will be re-routing the 7, 11 and 18 on Saturday - eight days early. This means they will operate to their current timetables, but their revised route in the interim. This will lead to some hanging around - as the 7 gets 23 minutes from St. Annes to Halfway House v 10 on the new timetable!  


Sunday, 4 March 2018

Olympian and Tiger catch up

Former Blackpool 401 in Nottinghamshire under restoration to original condition as Trent 701 (Mark Scott)
The sole survivor of the 10 ex Trent Olympians, 401, is now under restoration back in its native Nottinghamshire. It ran with Blackpool from 1997 to 2010 before passing to Catch 22 Bus in early 2012. It was sold on from them to its
current owner in 2015. Thanks to Jono Niblock for tracking this one down!

Confirmation has also been received that one of 5 new to Shearings Plaxton bodied Tigers acquired from Fylde with the Seagull Coaches business survives. 23 (F703ENE) was the first of the five to be withdrawn in 1998, replaced by the shortlived new Javelin 27 (R927TFR). 23 was exported to Ireland (as was the Javelin a year later!) but returned to Wealden - the Kent based dealer in 2001. It remains in their hands 17 years later as seen in this 2016 picture.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Service Changes - back on Squires Gate, gone from Commonside

Blackpool Transport has confirmed that services 7 and 11 will revert to their established routes on Squires Gate Lane from 25 March. They will retain their current frequencies (20 mins and 15 mins resp). As a result the 18 will be diverted to run via Bond Street, Clifton Drive, Squires Gate Lane and Lytham Road between Royal Oak and Highfield Road. However the frequency will reduce from half hourly to hourly. Additionally service 17 will be retimed and revert to a 3 bus 90 minute round trip, due to the lower traffic levels once Squires Gate bridge reopens. Overall 4 buses will be saved. 

Service 20 (Marton Mere to Blackpool) will resume for its summer season from 25th March, working weekends and school holiday weekdays. For 2018 the timetable runs without the previous mid day break with trips 0900-1800 from Marton Mere and 0915-1745 from Town Centre using 3 buses. 

Stagecoach will also be changing the 68 from 26 March. This will also revert to running via Squires Gate Lane, but will also change route in Ansdell, matching Blackpool's 11 route via Blackpool Road and Albany Road rather than Commonside. This will bring an end to this section of the pioneer local bus route in Lytham St. Annes. It first started in 1923, and apart from a suspension from 1926 to 1928 it has been served continuously since the start of 1929. Sadly this seems another 'triumph' for car parking v accessibility for local buses. The 11 stop on Blackpool Road near the Blossoms Pub is far less convenient for most facilities than the Commonside stop. Presently college sevrice 853 (St. Annes to Myrescough by Preston Bus) and 916 (St. Annes Queens Manor to Lytham St Bedes by Bank View) also serve Commonside

Saturday, 24 February 2018

570 marks 30 years since the end of the Swifts

AEC Swift 570 heads south on service 21 to St. Annes at Bispham (Brian Turner)
The last week of February 1988 saw the final working of Blackpool Transport's AEC Swifts. Recently reactivated preserved 570 worked on Catch 22 Bus service 21 from Cleveleys to St. Annes today to mark the occasion. This is its third such duty this month - as a heritage bus it has exemption from accessibility rules providing it is not used on local service work for more than 20 days.

570 is part of the Fylde Transport Trust collection - this being the new name for the Lancastrian Transport Trust announced last week. Their new website and Facebook page are linked from the blog home page.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

February News Round-Up

Catch 22 Bus has acquired a further Dennis Dart from Cardiff Bus in the form of Y388GAX, which replaces Y386GAX which is now withdrawn. A timetable change from 7 April 2018 sees the withdrawal of the Sunday only Poulton to Knott End section of service 24. This was a credible attempt to maintain a commercial Sunday service to this community following the withdrawal of LCC support back in April 2016. Ironically one of the contributing factors is an abstraction of daytime passengers by service 75 since it was diverted via Cleveleys in December.  

Former Blackpool Swift 570 worked service 21 again on Saturday 10th February, one week after its first appearance. It is advertised again operating on 24th February on the following times:

  • From Cleveleys Bus Station at 1000, 1130, 1330, 1500 and 1630 (last trip to Pleasure Beach only)
  • From St. Annes Square at 1045, 1215, 1415 and 1545 
Blackpool and Stagecoach services change in Blackpool Town Centre from 19th February as Talbot Road is closed between Abingdon St and Dickson Road. The main changes are:

  • 2, 2C, 18 and 19 will terminate at Topping Street not Abingdon Street (in via Church St, onto Topping Street then return via Topping Street, right onto Talbot Road and as usual outbound route.
  • 5, 6 and 7 north will run as normal to Talbot Square then Clifton St, Abingdon St, St John Square, Topping Street and Talbot Road then as normal. 
  • Soutbound 5, 6 and 7 will run as normal to Talbot Road (Wilkos) then pick up at Market Street, presumably via Dickson Road, Springfield Road, Promenade and Talbot Square (note the 6 won't serve Topping Street)
  • The 9 and 14 still terminate at Queen Street and 3/4 southbound still use Abingdon St outside Library.
  • Stagecoach 42 and 61 will terminate at Talbot Road outside Wilkos. 

Not previously reported was the 3 and 4 regaining their northbound stop on Dickson Road from 5 Feb and also the addition of the stop outside Wilko on Talbot Road for outbound 9 and 14s because Dickson Road reopened and High Street closed.

Monday, 5 February 2018

350 in Reading

Ex Blackpool Trident 350 at Reading Buses depot in base blue for a Reading Football Club livery (Reading Buses)

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Tridents to Reading

Trident 349 is one of four heading to Reading. Here it passes the former Lytham tram waiting room in 2013  (Brian Turner)

Recently withdrawn new to Isle of Man Dennis Tridents 349 to 352 (E16BTS to E19BTS) have been sold to Reading Buses. 350 left on 25 January, with 349 leaving on 31 January and are being repainted at a contractor before delivery to Reading. They are expected to be used on football extras.

These are the latest buses to flow between Reading and Blackpool. This started in the 1996/7s. In 1994 a new local operator, Reading Mainline, introduced competing services using ex London Routemasters. Their fleet grew to around 40 buses and they acquired Blackpool's redundant Routemasters in 1997. 521 to 531/3 became Mainline 33 to 44, albeit not in order. Two (522/9) were not used, but the rest entered service in their red and cream livery - applied by BTS. 

Reading Buses responded with additional minibuses. This included five City Pacers purchased from Blackpool in late 1996. Pioneer 560 became 222, 556 to 558 became 223/19/21 and 566 became 218. This ran until late 1998 (except 556 which was withdrawn earlier). 

Reading Buses purchased Mainline in 1998 and progressively withdrew its inherited Routemasters, closing the unit on 22 July 2000. Ex Blackpool 526 became the last to operate.

Moving forward to 2008, Reading Buses was disposing its fleet of 64 Optare Excels after around 8 to 10 years service. 932 to 936 were sold to Blackpool Transport becoming 222 to 226. 225 became Blackpool's last Excel in 2016 and is now back in the home area with Morton's Travel of Basingstoke. 

Most recently Blackpool Solos 251/2/4/6/8/60 were sold to Newbury and District in West Berkshire.

A Swift Returns after 30 Years

570 awaits departure on the 1500 to St. Annes at Cleveleys Bus Station (Paul Turner)
Catch 22 Bus operated LTT's Blackpool AEC Swift 570 on its service 21 today. 570 has recently passed its first MOT for over ten years after mechanical attention and thus became the first native Blackpool Swift to run on a local bus service in the town for 30 years. Two ex Great Yarmouth Swifts ran for Easyway in 1988, giving a brief taste of Swift operation again.

55 Swifts were purchased between 1969 and 1975, 570 made its debut in April 1974 - one of the final batch of 30 purchased. Blackpool's Swifts had a relatively short life, though not untypical for Blackpool buses at that time with some PD3s and early Atlanteans also operating for 12/13 years. 19 Swifts remained in use at deregulation (October 1986) but these were whittled down during 1987 and a batch of second hand Leyland Nationals replaced the remainder with the last, 590, operating on 29 February 1988. 570 was laid up in December 1987. Wealden Omnibuses - a Kent dealer - acquired most of the last survivors including 570 which was sold onto Blue Saloon of Guildford where it ran from 1988 to 1992. It was purchased by Graham Oliver for preservation and returned to its second livery of green and off-white. It passed to LTT in 2003 and was repainted again in 2005, but was stored for most of the intervening years until overhauled and MOT'd this winter. 

It was nice to see a green and cream Swift back in use again - hopefully it can be repeated a few more times. Non accessible buses can be used up to 20 days each per year on local bus work and its on this basis that 570 ran today.

In other Catch 22 Bus news, Versa YJ61JHH has been reported on service 24 after a lengthy period out of service. Restoration is also progressing on LTT owned Blackpool PD2 346 (PFR346) - ironically the type replaced by Swifts in 1974/5 - with a new platform frameworked welded in. 


570 climbs Anchorsholme Lane - it would have regularly passed here on routes 25A and later 3/3A in its service life. (Paul Turner)




sdsds

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Rail Replacement Update

Blackpool Transport Enviro 400s 442 and 444 stand in the layover bay at Preston Station prior to 444 working the 2115 to Blackpool North (Paul Turner)
Monday 29th January saw the start of phase 2 of the Blackpool Rail Replacement project with the reopening of the Blackpool South Line. Early and late trips remain bus operated with a 2250 from Preston to Blackpool South (Mon to Sat) and buses from Blackpool South at 0438, 0538, 2328 (Mon to Sat) and 0848 (Sundays).

The Blackpool North direct and all stops services continue but with the evening services reduced to every 30 minutes from around 1900. Blackpool Transport continues to provide 18 buses and has picked up some working including at least one working on the peak direct Poulton to Preston runs (0800) and also the 2328 from Blackpool South.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Fylde 78 rediscovered

Former Fylde Atlantean 78 has resurfaced as a playbus near Poole in Dorset. This, one of six 1975 Willowbrook/Northern Counties bodied Atlanteans that joined the BTS fleet when Fylde was absorbed in 1996, was withdrawn in 2000. It was sold to be a playbus with Fundays of Doncaster; later moving to Haynes Motor Museum by 2003. It left Haynes in August 2015 and was reported to be in the Dorset area. During last Autumn it made its debut with Adventure Bus, in a rather vivid new all-over scheme. More pictures are on the Adventure Bus Dorset website.

Fylde 78 in its new guise (Adventure Bus)
Updates to other survivors:

  • Volvo Olympian 375 has now arrived at Delves Infant and Nursery School in Walsall after conversion to a library by Blackpool Design Associates. See this Twitter link for photos
  • Liddells Coaches of Cumnock has confirmed they still have Atlantean URN330V in store as a seat store - its been parked up since 2003!
  • Optare Metrorider 589 has passed to Martin Gurr and Gary Conn for further preservation, joining their PD3 501, Swift 554, Atlantean 362 and Delta 133

Monday, 15 January 2018

January update

More Manx Tridents have been laid up with 349 to 352 joining 343-6 in store. The two disposed so far are being prepared with Lodges Coaches. See this Facebook link for a picture of 347 repainted. 

Solo 293 was scrapped in early January, it was withdrawn last year after accident damage and was sold at the end of the year to a private owner for spares and scrapping.

Not previously noted it that Enviro 401 has received a full rear advert for Blackpool Better Start. This has been applied by 5th December.

An update on the Preston Bus allocation at Blackpool has been provided by Peter Turner. On Sunday 14th January,  coaches Volvo B12B/Plaxton 11519/23/4, Mercedes/Unvi 12000, Volvo B12B/Caetano 13115, Mercedes/Plaxton 14003 and Mercedes Sprinter minibus 15514 were present with Solos 20769/73/81, 20800/2 and Tridents 40014, 40590/2. Not previously reported is the route of service 76 which serves Warton and Bryning Lane between Lytham and Wrea Green rather than its previous routing via Moss Side. 



Monday, 1 January 2018

Trident disposals and January diversions

Happy New Year. Tridents 347 and 348 have become the first of the ex Bus Vannin Dennis Tridents to be sold. They were collected on Thursday by Lodge Coaches of High Easter, Essex. Both entered service on 21 April 2012 and lasted until 3 March 2017. They started out as Isle of Man Transport 52 (EMN52Y) and 49 (EMN49Y) resp.

Tramway extension works on Talbot Road resume on 8 January, this blocks access to Clifton Street. Services 9 and 14 will terminate outside Central Library on Queen Street.