Friday, 5 June 2009

Preston in Blackpool

Stagecoach North West recently acquired the Preston Bus business and started to integrate operations, though OFT and now Competition Commission enquiries have halted progress. Several Preston Bus vehicles moved to the former Ribble depot at Frenchwood and now see regular appearances on the Fylde Coast with 'on hire to Ribble Motor Services' in the window.

The vehicle above is one of Preston's Leyland bodied Olympians new as 107 (J107KCW) which is now Stagecoach 14557 and was an early repaint into Stagecoach livery with 'Stagecoach in Preston' fleet names. It has recently received an led destination and is quite a regular performer on service 68 (Preston to Blackpool via Ashton, Lea, Freckelton, Lytham, Ansdell, St. Annes and South Shore).

Two former Preston Bus Tridents 18582/3 (X182/3RRN) are also regulars on the 68 but retain Preston Bus colours, though with Stagecoach standard LED destinations. Appearances on the 61 (Blackpool-Kirkham-Preston) are less common. Solos 47760/3 have also made appearances on the Fylde as have examples of the rare East Lancs Esteem bodied Scanias in both Stagecoach and Preston Bus colours.

The use of blue buses on the 68 route is not without precedent. Back in 1989 Stagecoach took over the assets of Barrow Borough Transport and quickly transferred many of the inherited vehicles to Preston depot. Barrow blue liveried Atlanteans and Nationals frequently operated what was then the 167/168. Again in 1993 Lancaster was absorbed and the handful of buses taken over were mainly moved away from Lancaster. Several East Lancs Atlanteans ran from Preston depot in Lancaster blue and white for a while.

In the late 1980s Preston Bus briefly ran a competing service with Ribble from Preston to Blackpool via Kirkham and the M55 (route 39) co-ordinated with a similar service run by Lancaster City Transport (41). Preston Bus also occasionally ran into the Fylde on school services, most recently providing a Blackpool-Preston College contract.