Friday 31 July 2009

September Service change

BTS has announced some service changes that will reduce its fleet requirement from 7 September:

Line 2 will be withdrawn between Poulton and Cleveleys due to the expiry of the
contract with Lancashire County Council. This should save two buses. The Wesham journeys will also be re-routed via Clifton Drive and Bond Street rather than the Promenade.

Line 3 will be withdrawn between Cleveleys and Thornton, saving one bus.

Line 15 will terminate at Staining, rather than Tesco and will be diverted via Talbot Road and Grange Road (as per Line 5) between the Town Centre and Hospital. It will also serve Faraday Way.

Line 16 will terminate at Cleveleys again due to LCC contract changes. It will also now serve Lytham Road between Royal Oak and Highfield Road rather than Bond St, Clifton Drive and Harrowside. This should save two buses.

This represents a significant retrenchment in Wyre, services 2, 3 and 16 in particular part replacing services deregistered by Stagecoach. It is understood a revised replacement service has been produced by Lancashire County Council.

The changes should save 5 buses - one Solo from Line 3, two from Line 16 and two Metroriders from Line 2. Assuming the Solos are cascaded onto Line 2should make some inroads into the seven light green Metroriders (503, 506, 508-512)

Sunday 26 July 2009

More MetroRiders meet their maker

MetroRiders 516 and 596 left Blackpool on 24 July for Wigley's of Barnsley for scrap. 516 is the first of the 1998 batch to be sold - this having last operated in summer 2008 after less than a year in use on Line 15. After several months in store, it was officially replaced by 513 in December. 596 was new in May 1996 and was withdrawn in May 2008. New in the original mainly black Handybus livery it only received one repaint - in October 2004 when it became the first minibus to gain the black/yellow Pool Metro livery.

This takes the total number of scrapped MetroRiders to five with 11 others still in store. More disposals are expected in the next few weeks.

In Profile - Line 4

Back in 1996 Lancashire's first Quality Bus Corridor was launched between Cleveleys and Mereside covering services 44A/44B forerunners of today's Line 4. Although bus priority was not featured, the route was adorned with new shelters, raised kerbs and clearway orders while eight new, but troublesome, 36 seat Excels were provided for the combined 15 minute frequency service. Today Line 4 uses the oldest Solos - now nearly ten years old and now receiving a long overdue repaint - with seats for 25 on a 20 minute headway.

Despite the decline in standards, Line 4 is actually a success story considering what went before. Its direct ancestry is actually traced back to the 1987 introduction of Fylde's 'Baby Blues' minibuses on Blackpool Prom. The summer Pontins to Gynn service 5 became a winter Starr Gate to Little Bispham service in November 1987 and then finally a Blackpool to Cleveleys Park service from January 1988. This served Holmfield Road, Norbreck and Little Bispham within the residential areas close to the Promenade. It also competed with Ribble's Cleveleys minilink service offering a direct link from within Cleveleys Park estate to Blackpool. Previously the other option was a walk to the tramway. This became a year round service - numbered 5A/5B (later 55A/55B) with the Promenade service restarting each summer as a separate service.

August 1988 saw the introduction of a futher minibus service from Blackpool to Mereside via Whitegate Drive and Great Marton as service F4 - later the 44 then the 44A/B. This had different termini throughout its life including the Hypermarket (now Asda), Mereside turning circle, Tesco and Marton Mere Park. Apart from a spell with Bristol REs and Atlanteans in 1992/3 both the 44s and 55s ran with Renault minibuses.

Both corridors served had declined under Blackpool Transport. The 55 corridor had been served by route 3 every 30 minutes from Cleveleys via Norbreck, Bispham, Promenade, Claremont and Blackpool and onto Mereside, but this was revised at deregulation leaving Norbreck to be served by tendered route 33 also every 30 minutes, which ended once the 55A/B had become established. Great Marton on the 44 route had been served by route 16 (Wordsworth Avenue) which ran via Stanley Park missing the district centre near Marton Tram depot (a success for the Fylde route). From deregulation this became route 4 and served Pakr Road (again missing the district centre!) and declined to an hourly service 3A and then ended all together with Fylde securing the market for itself.

In February 1994 the 44 and 55 routes merged as follows:
44A Cleveleys Park (clockwise) Cleveleys, Norbreck, Bispham, Warbreck Drive, Gynn, Blackpool, Whitegate Drive, Oxford Square, Great Marton, Paddock Drive, Mereside Shops, Tesco
44B Cleveleys Park (anti-clockwise) Cleveleys, Norbreck, Bispham, Holmfield Road, Gynn, Blackpool, Whitegate Drive, Oxford Square, Great Marton, Paddock Drive, Marton Mere Park
Each ran every 30 minutes, combining to every 15 minutes using eight buses in total. In the evenings and on Sundays routes 333/444 covered much of the corridor but served Park Road not Whitegate Drive and also included parts of route 33. A half - hourly service was provided with 3 buses (four following an hourly extenstion to Fleetwood).

The co-ordinated network of November 1994 saw the 44B re-routed to serve Stanley Park while the 44A was upgraded to big buses - normally using Optare Deltas, the 'Paladin' single deck Atlanteans or occasionally the solitary Tiger bus 13. The low floor revolution began on 3 June 1996 when the 44A was converted to Optare Excel operation using new buses 201-204, with 205-208 following over the next few weeks to convert the 44B. Reliability was horrific so that the single deckers and occasionally minibuses continued to deputise. Eventually 201-208 were traded in for new buses (210-218) which arrived during 1999.

The Metro network saw the introduction of Line 4 to replace the 44A/B with all journeys running:
Cleveleys Park (clockwise) Cleveleys, Norbreck, Bispham, Warbreck Drive, Gynn, Blackpool, Stanley Park, Whitegate Drive, Oxford Square, Great Marton, Paddock Drive, Mereside Shops,
Tesco. Daytime journeys ran every 20 minutes, evening/Sundays every hour. Between Bispham and the Town Centre Line 3 ran alongside to make a 10 minute headway. 7 Excels were used with 210-215 dedicated (with Line 4 stickers applied). In January 2003 the Excels were transferred away to Line 5 - non having received the Cadbury Blue Metro line scheme. This debuted on 271 - one of the Solos moved from Line 5 to replace the Excels. It remained unique until December 2003 when 267/8 were painted, with 269 following in January. 265/6 joined the allocation in February - with their Line 3 blue replaced by Line 4 livery and the seventh bus completed was 272 in December 2004. The Solos allowed the route to be diverted into Claremont Estate to bolster Line 3 which was unable to cope with demand.

Since then little has changed, other than minor route changes in Claremont and a couple of periods of service suspension round Marton that has required a dedicated shuttle bus (Line 4A) to maintain service. The current version is from Stanley School to Tesco as the 4 is terminating at Mereside Shops due to the delays caused by major work in the Town Centre. This should end in August.

265-269, 271 and 272 remain allocated - bolstered by pool Solos when required. Repaints are now underway with 265-267 now treated.

Sunday 19 July 2009

Round Up

305 and 266 in paint shop (photo taken on escorted visit)
Trident 305 is now in paint for Line 14 colours, alongside Line 4 Solo 266.
Excel 217 is still in store awaiting its new engine, 218 is currently away. 211 has received front accident damage and is currently in the body shop for repairs.

Trident 338 is still stored at the rear of depot awaiting completion and entry into service.

Line 1 summer service starts on Monday 20 July. The Pontins to Bispham short workings become daily rather than weekend only.

Friday 17 July 2009

In Profile - Line 6

The 6 is one of Blackpool's longest established bus routes. It dates back to 1926 when a Town Centre to Condor Grove service was introduced via Central Drive and Grasmere Road. It was progressively extended to reach Daggers Hall Lane, then the Welcome Inn, Cherry Tree Gardens and in 1954 into the new Mereside housing estate. Mereside was used to relocate council house tenants from the town centre and therefore the fares were subsidised to avoid penalising their now long journey into town.

For many years it was linked to route 13 (Lindale Gardens) and 4 (Mereside via Penrose Avenue) - the interworking resulting in these three numbers being grouped together on the number blinds! Titans were the common allocation right up to 1980 when OPO Atlanteans took over -though OPO single deckers had been used on Sundays for several years. A brief flirtation with route branding in February 1985 saw Atlanteans 302, 303, 316, 317 and 321 repainted into a revised livery with orange and yellow bands to promote the "Mereside Shuttle 6" and the "Saverstrip" - a multi journey ticket that was cancelled on bus offering 12 single journeys for the price of 10. Three standard livery Atlanteans also received ticket cancelling machines as spares. The initiative ended fairly quickly and the five Atlanteans became early recipients of the new fleet livery in 1987.

At deregulation (Oct 86) route 6 was extended into a cross town service taking over the Grange Park via Layton and Caunce Street section of former route 5, thereby linking the two main 1950s housing estates in the town. In September 1987 the daytime frequency was increased from 15 minutes to every 10 minutes and three Atlanteans (301/5/6) received a special white based "Super 6" and others received similar branding on the advert panels. Fylde started competing soon after with a half hourly service operating from March 1988 to April 1989 and also by extending its 11C to Grange Park for a few months in 1988.

In 1990 certain journeys were extended the short distance from Mereside turning circle into the then new Tesco store. A further extension took place in June 1991 with two buses per hour running from Grange Park via Castle Gardens to Poulton replacing part of route 53. Atlanteans and Olympians continued as the main vehicles allocated, but in November 1994 six brand new Volvo Olympians were allocated to the service - out of a requirement for 11 buses. Sadly they soon suffered interior damage and quickly moved onto routes 22/22A. March 1995 saw a full conversion to single deck "Optare Delta" operation and the evening service terminus moved to Collegiate School following anti social behaviour problems at the Easington Crescent layover point. The Poulton extension ceased in 2000, but the evening and Sunday services were increased from 30 to 20 minutes.

The 6 was a rare example of a service not significantly changed in the Metro network revision of April 2001. All that was introduced was a single direction terminal loop at Grange Park - buses entering Dinmore Avenue Pilling Crescent and running clockwise round the estate to leave at Chepstow Road. The Collegiate school evening terminus ceased.

116 was the first bus repainted into the maroon and yellow route livery in June 2001. 115/117 followed quickly but 108-110, 112-114 were not done until they were refurbished - a process which lasted until September 2002. 109/10, 112-117 received moulded bus seats in their refurbishment, 108 retaining high backed seats. These 9 buses were backed up daily by a pool bus to make the 10 required, until 118 was cascaded in from Line 7 in March 2004.

Changes to other services saw revisions to the allocations in May 2005 when 115-118 were repainted into Line 11 colours. 104-07 were transferred onto Line 6, initially retaining green and cream livery but by August all four were in the route livery. These four have not been refurbished. Finally 110 was withdrawn in early 2009 and replaced by 103.

Current status:
Daytime Frequency 10 minutes (10 buses), evening/Sunday 20 minutes (5 buses)
Allocation: 103-109, 112-114
Pool buses: Deltas 101/2, 123/4, plus Olympians 370-378 and occasionally Excels 218-223 and sometimes the odd Solo.

MetroRider update

Withdrawn MetroRider 594 went for scrap on 14 July - the fifth to be disposed of. Current status of the fleet is:

Operational 503, 506, 508-512 in Line 2 livery, 513-515 and 517 in Line 15 livery, 518 in Line 10 livery and 593 in pool livery. 513 is currently defective however (total 13).
Stored: 501, 502, 504, 505, 507, 516, 585, 587, 588, 591, 592, 595, 596 (total 13)
Scrapped: 584, 586, 594 (total 3)
Preserved: 589 and 590 (total 2)

Tuesday 14 July 2009

343 Preserved

Atlantean 343 has joined the ranks of preserved buses having been purchased by Steven Hughes from Stephenson's of Essex. It ran in Blackpool until 2003 passing to Fargo Coaches of Rayne, Essex who were later taken over by Stephensons.

Saturday 11 July 2009

Metrobuses to Washington

In 2001 five MCW Metrobuses arrived in Blackpool to launch the City Sightseeing Tour. Others joined over time - some for brief visits and some when the Manchester tour was taken over. Initially the Blackpool tour was a joint venture with Ensign, but was later taken on as a direct franchise by Blackpool Transport. The Metrobuses remained in Ensign ownership, but their replacement Olympians were acquired by BT.

The last Metrobus ran in 2007 and their disposals have been diverse with a few even exported to America and one to Portugal. The full list is:

802 (BYX302V) new to London Transport. Arrived 2006 (Mcr tour) Left 3/07 and exported to USA by Ensign
810 (BOK72V) new to West Midlands. Arrived 2001 (Bpl tour) w/d 2004 season, still stored by Ensign in 2008
811 (BOK75V) new to West Midlands. Arrived 2001 (Bpl tour) w/d 2004 season, still stored by Ensign in 2008
814 (BOK68V) new to West Midlands. Arrived 2006 (Mcr tour) w/d end 2006 season, left 2/08 and still stored by Ensign in 2008
815 (VRG415T) new to Tyne & Wear. Arrived 2001 (Bpl tour) w/d 2006 season, left 5/07 and sold for scrap 10/07
817 (VRG417T) new to Tyne & Wear ran for part of 2005 season in generic CS livery. Was with City Sightseeing Liverpool (ACE Travel) in 2008
821 (LAT501V) new to Hull, arrived 2001 (Bpl tour), w/d 2004 later exported to Washington but used for spares
822 (LAT502V) new to Hull, arrived 2001 (Bpl tour), w/d 2004 later exported to Washington but used for spares
850 (EWF450V) new to South Yorkshire, used for part of 2002 season in generic CS livery. Exported to Cyprus 2008.
864 (A964SYF) new to London Transport, ran 2004-2006 (Bpl tour), exported to City Sightseeing Portugal.
892 (GYE392W) new to London Transport. Arrived 2006 (Mcr tour) ran in 2006/7 season. Exported to CS Washington as 319 AP.0599

Friday 10 July 2009

363 bites the dust

And then there was one. The once 83 strong fleet of Blackpool Transport Atlanteans is now down to just one - 364 (B364UBV) with the disposal today of sister 363 for scrap. Stored for almost a year, 363 was stripped to a shell with seat cushions, windows and mechanical units removed and was towed to Inglemere Metals off Vicarage Lane by ERF Tow Wagon 929 this afternoon (10 July) where it was soon scrapped. This follows 352 on 6 April and 360 on 28 April. Additionally Metrorider 584 (Inglemere 5 March) and Delta 110 (Preston Recyclers 26 June) have been scrapped this year.

363 was new in September 1984 - with 364 the joint penultimate regular build Atlantean to be registered (followed by last registered Fylde 75 B75URN - the last chassis built was an A-prefix Lancaster one). New in a special coach livery, it gained the post deregulation bus livery in late 1988 and the post merger livery in Sept 1995. It ran from Squires Gate Depot from Feb 1997 to April 1999. It was retrimmed in March 1999, later gaining some bus seats to the upper deck rear (and gaining yet more to reseat 364 back to full coach spec. 363 also received split upper deck windscreens rather than the single piece screens fitted when new.

See this link for 363's last moments:

Saturday 4 July 2009

314 returns

Trident 314 has returned to service. This was seriously damaged in a collision on St Davids Road North in March and has been repaired by Bus and Coach World, Blackburn. A full repaint - the first of its batch so treated - has been completed and the repaired bus is back on Line 14.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Preserved Atlanteans

LTT's 334 and 362

Three of the well known East Lancs Atlanteans are now in preservation, 334, 353 and 362. A fourth - 364 - is expected to follow when finally retired - indeed could be considered semi preserved now.

334 restored and posted at Mereside turning circle

334 (AHG334V) was new in June 1980 as part of the fourth batch of ten replacing PD3s including 529. New in the Southampton inspired 'layer cake' livery it was first repainted in September 1983, received the post deregulation livery in June 1988, January 1991 and then the version with black window surrounds in June 1994. It spent periods of 1995 in store or reserve use before a repaint into the final livery style took place in November 1995. From April 1996 it worked from Squires Gate (save for a few weeks back at Rigby Road in 1996) until this closed in 1999. Its final repaint was in November 1999

It was bought for preservation by Graham Oliver in June 2003 having last operated on route 20 on 29 May. It soon passed to LTT and restoration commenced during 2006 with the bus extensively stripped. A full repanel and new window rubbers completed the external work and a full repaint took place - with completion in September 2007.

353 at totallyTransport after restoration

353 (UHG353Y) One of a small batch of four bought in September 1982 this ran until July 2008 - a run of nearly 26 years making it the longest serving Blackpool bus at the time. It was repainted in Oct 1986 (orig) Nov 1988 and Dec 1991 (dereg), Nov 1994 (Zone card advert), Oct 1997 (last style). It was withdrawn in June 2006 but reinstated in January 2007 lasting until the July 2008 cull - managing a last day on service 1 on 29 July. It was bought by the Chesterfield 123 Group in September 2008 and rallied for the rest of the season. A body overhaul and repaint took place over the winter, returning the bus to its 1997 condition by June 2009. It returned to Blackpool for totallyTransport.

362 at the Zoo on the Farewell event

362 (A362HHG) is numerically the last of the bus seated examples and one of eight to arrive in August 1983. It was repainted in Feb 1987 - one of the last to be treated in the original style as the post deregulation livery was adopted the following month. In April 1989 it became one of five to receive an all-over advert for Mackeson stout, which was replaced by Bonaza Family Restaurant in May 1990 - both with fleet livery fronts. It returned to green and cream in April 1991 and was again treated (with black window surrounds) in Sept 1994. Again it was one of the last so treated. It received the final style in April 1996 and again August 1999. By 2004 Atlantean use was restricted to schools and seasonal services and withdrawal took place in July 2006. A brief reprieve in October 2006 saw it run on the Atlantean Farewell event operating on route 20 on both 28 and 29 Oct. It then passed to LTT and remains in as withdrawn condition.


LTT briefly owned 331 (AHG331V) between June 2002 and Sept 2003, before replacing it with 334. It passed to Fargo Coaches, Essex from where it has since been scrapped. 337 (AHG337V) was preserved from 2003, appearing in Kent and Warrington before returning to Blackpool. Never restored it was scrapped in October 2008.

Several of the ex Fylde Atlanteans that operated for Blackpool are also preserved:
445 (NJI5505) Blackpool Transport Omnibus Group
458 (ATD281J) LTT
471 (OJI4371) LTT
479 (HRN99N) LTT
496 (XHG96V) Andy Mitchell
137 (TKU469K) LTT.