Saturday 28 May 2011

Open Topper 813 at Padarn Bus

Former Blackpool Transport 813 has now entered service at Padarn Bus, Llanberis, North Wales. It is shown here at their depot after its first day in service

Monday 23 May 2011

Solos leave

Solo 265 when new in Staining
Three of the withdrawn Solos, 263, 265 and 266 have left today following sale and they have now arrived at Holmeswood Coaches, Rufford. All three arrived in November 1999 and entered service in January 2000 on routes 23, 24, 25 and 33. 263 operated on the first day (4 January) with 265/6 following later in the week. All three were early repaints into Metro livery with Line 3 blue and yellow applied in Spring 2002. 265/6 moved onto Line 4 in Cadbury Blue in 2004 while 263 became a pool fleet bus in 2008. 263/5 were withdrawn in March 2011 with 266 following earlier this month.

Newer Solo 250 has now entered the paint shop for a repaint.

Solo 266 on its penultimate day in service working route 16
Solo 265 towards the end of its active career in March

Thursday 19 May 2011

Route 12

Throughout the 1960s PD3s were the staple diet of service 12, though it was launched with PD2s until the first of the full fronted PD3s arrived in 1962. Swifts took over in 1974 but on 14 December 1981 PD3s appeared as their front engine offered greater adhesion - a sentiment presumably lost on the crew of 523 seen here stuck at the Airport
Blackpool Trams began operating along Lytham Road in 1895 initially to Station Road with a end on connection from 1896 with Gas trams to Lytham. Blackpool trams later ran the full length of Lytham Road to Squires Gate Airport but the line closed in October 1961. Replacement service 12 started on 30 October 1961. It started at Squires Gate - with the terminus opposite the Lytham St. Annes Bus depot then ran the length of Lytham Road, onto the Promenade and up Talbot Road to the Bus Station. The service was:
  • Summer - every 5 minutes (9 buses)
  • Winter - every 6 minutes (7 buses) except evenings/Sundays - every 8 minutes (5 buses)

Centre Entrance PD2s were not commonly associated with the 12 but here 210 is providing an unadvertised duplicate service 12A between Talbot Square and South Station to cope with summer loadings
Existing PD2s were used until the 20 new PD3s arrived during summer 1962 - after that the longer PD3 became the mainstay with PD2s - including the streamliners - providing unadvertised duplicate service 12A. The service frequency gradually eased with a 7 minute frequency in place by the 1970s. January 1973 saw the terminus move to the Airport Grounds and in May 1974 the service was converted to OMO operation using AEC Swifts. Daytime services used 7 buses at 7 minute intervals, evenings and Sundays saw a bus every 16 minutes with extra summer season journeys.
OPO operation with Swifts started in 1974. Now preserved 570 waits time at the Airport terminus
By 1977 the daytime frequency had dropped to every 10 minutes with a 20 minute evening/Sunday timetable in place. 1983 saw timetable revised with two journeys per hour replaced by Fylde's 11/11A - leaving the 12 providing 4 buses per hour at 10-20-10-20 intervals and no evening/Sunday service. Double deckers were now commonly deployed.

During the 1980s Atlanteans replaced the Swifts - here 356 loads at The Old Bridge - while the stop is blocked by brand new National 2 544 on its first familiarisation run.

Deregulation saw the frequency return to every 10 minutes with 4 Routemasters - crew operation allowed faster running times so the buses could - just - get round in 40 minutes. Evenings/Sundays saw OPO Double Deck buses run every 30 minutes.

In July 1987 the daytime 12 service was extended to St. Annes using 6 crew double deckers - RMs521-6 were supplemented by PD3s with 507 and 512 in the same red and white scheme as the RMs. November saw alternate journeys curtailed to terminate at the Airport but the evening/Sunday service was extended to St. Annes.

Routemasters were used from deregulation to garner a competitive advantage against Fylde's Blue Buses. 521 is chased down Talbot Road by Fylde 82 on the 11A
29 February 1988 saw the introduction of a supplementary minibus service providing a bus every 5 minutes from Blackpool to Highfield Road. The St. Annes service now ran every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at peak using crew double deckers. Evenings and Sundays - and some early journeys - used minibuses through to St. Annes on a 15 minute frequency.

City Pacer 550 is operating the new minibus version of the 12 introduced in February 1988. This later became service 12A
 August saw the minibus workings renumbered 12A and extended via Highfield Road, St. Annes Road, Halfway House to Lindale Gardens and back via Highfield Road. The offpeak  12 service ran every 15 minutes during the summer and this was then adopted year round from November. April 1999 saw the evening service revert to big bus operation with 2 Atlanteans or Olympians running every 30 minutes.

521 again leaving Blackpool Airport with an Easyway Leopard behind on route 53
 From December 1991 the Routemasters were replaced by crew operated Atlanteans as several were now spare. March 1992 saw the 12 extended to Cleveleys replacing service 9. Optare Deltas took-over and 8 were required for the 15 minute daytime service and 4 for the half hourly evening/Sunday service. This followed Fylde's expansion of services with its 11 running from Lytham St. Annes to Cleveleys and the 11A following suit in May 1992.

With the two operators under common ownership, November 1994 saw the 12 drop to half hourly - co-ordinated with Fylde's 11/11A. The 12A was reduced to every 7/8 minutes. August 1996 saw the 12 converted to double deckers and the 12A coverted to single deckers with 5 operating every 10 minutes and  buses ran both ways via Lindale Gardens to terminate at the Morrisons Store at Halfway House - though the circular route was restarted in November 1996. A 6th bus was added quickly as the timetable provided too challenging.

PD3s 507 and 512 supplemented the Routemasters on the 12 - both carried the same red/white livery
 June 1998 saw one journey per hour daytimes on the 12 extend from Cleveleys to Freeport, Fleetwood via West Drive, Broadwater and Fleetwood Ferry requiring one more bus. This proved unreliable so it was diverted via Amounderness Way instead of Broadwater in December and was withdrawn in April 1999. Single deckers returned to the service in February 1999 following the conversion of the 12A back to minibuses in December - 5 Metroriders taking over.

The new Metro network saw the 12 replaced by Line 11 from 30 April - this largely covering the 12 route, plus a diversion via Bispham Village with an extension to Lytham. Today the northern section is now route 9 while the Lytham Road service (as far as diversions allow) is now covered by a revised service 11.

The 12 was a regular haunt for demonstrators. Here East Lancs bodied Scania EMJ560Y loads in Talbot Road Bus Station alongside Atlantean 310 and Swift 579

Sunday 15 May 2011

Repaints and a Withdrawal

Solo 285 has returned to service as the sixth example in the new livery alongside 255, 288-290 and 293. Sister bus 284 is in the paint shop and has now been joined by Olympian 368. Already repainted 369 is expected to return to use next week but Solo 266 was withdrawn after service on Friday - the sixth of its type to be laid up.

The Line 4 'Cadbury Blue' livery remains on five active and two withdrawn Solos. Here matching pair 271 and 269 pass on route 16 on Bond Street.
 The livery status quo is:
  • New Livery: 211, 214, 224, 255, 285, 288-290, 293, 324-337, 340-342, 369, 520-533 (41) plus 284/368 under repaint
  • Old Pool Livery: 218-223, 273-283, 317-319, 370-378 (29)
  • Line 1 livery: 338/9, 402, 405-408, 410-417 (15)
  • Line 2 livery: 240-247, 249, 286/7, 294 (12)
  • Line 3 livery: 258-260, 295-297 (6)
  • Line 4 livery: 267-269, 271/2 (5)
  • Line 5 livery: 248, 250-254, 256/7 (8)
  • Line 7 livery: 210/2/3, 215-217, 225/6 (8)
  • Line 11 livery: 322/3, 379 (3)
  • Line 14 livery: 301-316 (16)
  • Line 16 livery: 291/2 (2)

Friday 13 May 2011

Atlantean Afterlife

LTT's Atlanteans 334 and 362 back in 1986 at Pontins
Its now nearly five years since the farewell to the Atlantean event and, although Atlantean operation continued through 2007 and in 364's case right up to autumn 2009, the number of survivors is dwindling fast. The last article under this name was published here in October 2009 and at the time 16 of the 64 new to Blackpool Atlanteans were believed to survive.

The oldest was 309 (CBV309S) which was stored on SORN with Thornes in North Yorkshire, however since November 2009 this has been recorded as 'unlicensed' with DVLA suggesting departure from Thornes and probable scrapping.
350 as Streetscene 270
The 1979 batch had three survivors with 325/6 in store with Liddel's of Auchinleck on SORN but both are now unlicensed and presumed sold. 322 was purchased for preservation but hasn't been reported since and is also noted as 'unlicensed' on the DVLA site. Any reports on its continued existence would be welcome. Since then it has been confirmed that long withdrawn 330 is still with Liddel's where it has been a static store at their depot since 2003.

Other than stored 330, LTT's 334 may well be the oldest operatonal survivor and the last example and the only other survivor of the first 40 Atlanteans. 343 of the 1981 batch was broken up in May 2011 after its spell in preservation was curtailed due to a serious axle failure. Those with a strong constitution may be interested in the series of photographs of 343's disposal here. Sister bus 350 is still active with Blackpool Borough Council Streetscene.

Of the last 16 Atlanteans, seven are understood to survive in great contrast to the first batches. Scotbus continue to use 354, 357 and 361 on school service in the Highlands of Scotland and those wanting to experience them might be interested in a mini running day featuring Scotbus's Atlanteans on 9 August - details here.

Blackpool's last Atlantean operating on Line 6 in April 2008
Preserved 353 remains active with the Chesterfield 123 Group while sister 362 is currently under restoration with LTT. 364 remains with Blackpool Transport and is occasionally rallied but it has not seen active service since its withdrawal in 2009. 358 is stored with Classic Bus North West and 356 remains active as a playbus.

So the Atlantean survivors may be down to eleven - (unless 322 survives)
  • Preserved: 334, 353, 362 (3)
  • Stored: 330 (1)
  • On SORN: 358 (1)
  • Scotbus, Inverness: 354, 357, 361 (3)
  • Blackpool Council: 350 (1)
  • Playbus: 356 (1)
  • Blackpool Transport: 364. (1)
The fate of the former Fylde examples is surprisingly more impressive. Of the 19 new to Fylde examples absorbed by Blackpool in 1996 eight survive. 444 continues with a dance troupe in Greater Manchester, 445 is preserved in Seagull livery. 458, 471 and 479 are preserved by LTT, 474 is stored in Blackburn after use as a mobile catering unit, 478 is a static playbus in Dorset at the Haynes Motor Museum and 496 survives in non-psv use after sale out of preservation - its SORN declaration was renewed last month.

75 (B75URN) was the last Atlantean delivered to Fylde and the last mainstream Atlantean to enter service. Later refurbished as a Seagull Coach (and renumbered 45) it became Blackpool 445 and is now preserved in its 1990s condition
Of the second hand examples, two of the five new to GM Buses survive - 467 is still outside the Pilot Boat Inn on Anglesea as a static playbus and 468 is a commentary point at a race course in Jersey. LTT has two of the rebodied single deckers (134/7) - though 135 is now believed to have passed out of private preservation for scrap.

12 out of 46 pre-owned Atlanteans absorbed with the Fylde business survive - and that is without counting open toppers 452 and 453 which have disappeared in France and America respectively.

Diverting Diversions

Heras Fencing and Road Closed signs continue to do battle for the 'Image of Blackpool 2011' title and things have reached such a level that even diversionary routes are subject to diversions.
Trident 315 passes the Big Blue Hotel on its way to Lytham while diverted away from Lytham Road due to Skew Bridge closure and the temporary closure of Watson Road
The closure of Skew Bridge to buses earlier this year seems to be no nearer to resolution with no indication of when rectification is to take place. The disruption to bus services has been compounded by the need to undertake emergency utilities work on Watson Road - the diversion route for the 5, 11 and 68. As a result the 11 and 68 are now turning off Lytham Road at the Farmer's Arms and using Harrowside, Clifton Drive, Bond Street and Station Road - missing out Arnold School as well as Thames Primary. Route 5 now turns into Watson Road and onto St. Annes Road missing out the major South Shore traffic objective of Royal Oak.

New liveried Trident 326 descends Harrowside which is currently seeing ten buses per hour in each direction with the 11 and 68 joining the 16
 As the lengthy Promenade closure heads into its final stages work will take place adjacent to the Metropole Hotel on weekdays in May which is likely to see southbound 1, 3, 4 and 15 buses diverted once more.

Having descended the hill, 326 turns right onto Clifton Drive

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Service Changes 23 May

Timetable changes take place on 23 May mainly affecting evening and Saturday morning services. Most notable though is the withdrawal of evening buses on route 15 to Staining and the reduction of the evening 2/2C to hourly.

Route 1 (Blackpool-Fleetwood)
Saturday service before 0831 ex Blackpool and 0800 ex Fleetwood reduced to every 30 minutes. Sunday service before 0931 ex Blackpool and 1000 ex Fleetwood also reduced to every 30 minutes

Route 2/2C (Blackpool-Poulton-Knott End)
Monday to Friday - evening service reduced to hourly with 2 withdrawn (except for 2327 Blackpool-Poulton). Continues to use seven buses (currently 5 Solo and 2 single deck)
Saturday - morning service reduced with route 2 now starting at 0912 ex Blackpool and 0601, 0631, 0846 and every 30 minutes ex Poulton. - evening service reduced to hourly with 2 withdrawn (except for 2327 Blackpool-Poulton). Appears now to use six buses (4x 2C, 2x 2)
Sunday - 2 operates 0729, 0959 and hourly to 1859 ex Blackpool, 0700, 1030 and hourly to 1830 from Poulton. 2C unchanged.

Route 4 (Cleveleys Park-Mereside)
Saturday From Cleveleys Park, 0748 and 0808 journeys replaced by 0758 journey.

Route 5 (Hospital-Halfway House)
Saturday - 0714, 0734 Blackpool to Halfway House 0748 and 0808 from Halfway House withdrawn 
Sunday - 0623 from Halfway House and 0732 from Royal Oak replaced by 0653 from Halfway House

Route 7 (Lytham to Cleveleys)
Saturday - morning journeys revised to be 0706 HH-Cleveleys, 0707, 0737 then as present from Saltcotes Road.
Sunday evening service reduced to hourly after 1812 at 1900-2300 from Lytham and from 1929 to 2229 from Cleveleys

Route 9 (Blackpool to Cleveleys)
Monday to Friday - evening service reduced to hourly from Blackpool from 2028 and 2110 from Cleveleys (also reduced to every 30 minutes after 1840 from Cleveleys)
Saturdays - reduced to every 20 minutes until 0840 (Cleveleys) then every 10 minutes as present until 1700 and reduced to every 20 minutes until 1840 then every 30 minutes until 2110, 2210 and 2310
From Blackpool  0618 and every 20 minutes to 0858 then every 10 minutes until 1748, every 20 to 1828, every 30 to 2028, every 60 to 2328
Sunday - first journey from Blackpool now 0841, 0941, 1011, 1041 then every 20 minutes to 1841, 1900 then every 30 minutes to 2100, 2200, 2300
From Cleveleys 0800, 0900, 0930, 1000 then every 20 to 1800 then every 30 to 2030, 2130, 2230

Route 11 (Grange Park to Lytham)

Sundays - 0845 and 2315 ex Grange Park, 0736 ex St. Annes, 2130, 2230 ex Lytham withdrawn

Route 14 (Mereside to Fleetwood)
Saturdays 0650 ex Fleetwood, 0620, 0720, 0740 Blackpool to Fleetwood and 0723 ex Mereside withdrawn.

Route 15 (Staining to Poulton)
Monday to Friday - evening service withdrawn
Saturday - 0707 and 0907 ex Poulton and 0806 and 0906 ex Staining and entire evening service withdrawn.
Sundays - reduced to hourly 0906-1606 Staining to Bispham then 1706 to Blackpool only. 0950-1650 Bispham to Staining plus 1735 Blackpool-Staining. Two buses required with long layover at Staining. No evening service

Route 17 (Blackpool to St. Annes)
Saturdays 0735, 0835 ex Blackpool 0635, 0735, 0835 ex St. Annes withdrawn
Sundays - 0905 from Blackpool withdrawn. 

Friday 6 May 2011

Where Trams Once Trod

'Night Tram' service 27 has finally ceased with the last duties in the early hours of the May 6th in the capable hands of Optare Solo 288. Optare Solo 284 is the latest to enter the paint shop and will be the second of its type to loose Line 2 green and yellow following from 285.

Meanwhile to mark the end of the 27, here are a few recent images with a link to tramways past and present.

The new tram depot at Starr Gate is complete and has recently seen the first passenger tram visit to test the overhead alignment. Less momentous is the appearance of the first minibus with Solo 266 sitting on the new tracks at the remodelled Starr Gate terminus

The tramway is progressively reopening and from today has been extended from North Pier to Cabin. Trident 337 approaches the Metropole alongside the relayed tram lines which have now reopened. As it stands the northbound roadway remains closed and it seems the trams may not be able serve intermediate tram stops
Meanwhile down in Lytham Volvo 522 is working route 7 - which is the spiritual successor to the Lytham St. Annes tramway, albeit using Squires Gate Lane and St. Annes Road between Squires Gate and Waterloo Hotel. This section of tramway (Lytham Square to Lytham Hospital) was the first on the Fylde Coast to close in 1926.

On Red Bank Road Solo 248 turns into Beaufort Avenue. From 1898 to 1966 Red Bank Road featured a single track tramline to access Bispham Depot - now the site of Sainsbury's Car Park

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Spring Scenes

The single deck Volvos have settled down to regular use on service 7 alongside Excels. Here 526 loads in Lytham Square, though some have foregone the temptation of Plaxton's craftsmanship in favour of an Ice Cream.
The 1 and 1A now tend to see double decks at weekends and single decks midweek. Here Excel 216 puts in a turn on the southern leg.

Volvo Olympian 379 put in a now quite rare appearance on the 11 on 30 April as seen here in Lytham - the following day it operated on route 20.

322 and 323 are the other two active buses to retain Line 11 colours - here 323 works route 1A at South Pier
Trident 342's electronic destination display has suffered a failure and the bus has recently been restricted to the 11, usually with printed destinations in the windscreen and a semi-permanent "11" applied to the rear number display!

The new livery is now carried by 17 out of the 40 Tridents - here 326 turns from Chapel Street onto the Promenade - on the diverted 11 route

Lothians on the 20

416 stands at Marton Mere terminus
Today has seen the unusual appearance of no less than three ex Lothian via Blackburn Olympians on the 20. 413, 414 and 416 have all been noted.

These buses - acquired from Lancashire United with the former Blackburn Transport Fylde Coast school contracts - are normally restricted to school services despite carrying full Metro Line 1 livery. Since the July 2010 service changes they have carried full service destinations rather than the former Blackburn blinds previously carried.

The photo also shows that these are now finally losing their Metro branding with the route points removed, BT stickers over the Metro logo but oddly retaining the "Schools Plus 1" circle. Most of the Metro black and yellow 'pool' liveried buses also received the oblong BT logos over their Metro ones earlier this year.

413/4/6 are the prefered back up buses for the 20 when the newer Olympians are unavailable and may see further use during the school terms when the double deck requirement peaks. The repaints of Olympian 369 and Solo 285 are nearly complete with just the vinyls awaited.