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.