Friday, 4 May 2012

The Metro Years: 2005

Day one of the expanded Line 10 with dedicated bus 593 showing its bright colours on a dull day. Passengers are not evident, unless they had popped in for some Mushroom Compost.
2005 was a quiet year on the vehicle front with no new buses arriving following the extra influx in 2004. The network remained stable until the Autumn, but the experimental "L8 Buses" ended on 16 April. Two new routes started on 17 June on Friday/Saturday nights with the N1 Corporation St to Fleetwood via the Line 1 route at 0030/0230 with an 0145 short to Cleveleys and the N11 running south to Lytham at 0030/0230 with an 0145 short to Lytham. Buses ran back to the Town Centre empty and each route required one bus - normally and Olympian. These were no more successful than the L81-L83 and ceased on 1 October.

Summer services saw the 1 operate Pontins to Cleveleys for most of the year with a Tuesday extension to Fleetwood for the Market and a summer holiday extension to St. Annes from 25 July to 5 September. 

Metrorider 502 operating on the 2C at Hambleton. Blackpool had served this route through its evening tender for the 58 for some time but had now taken over the daytime service too as part of the ever expanding Line 2
The Autumn network expansion saw Blackpool replace Stagecoach between Poulton and Knott End from 30 October with two journeys per hour (one eves/Suns) on route 2 extended from Poulton over the route of Stagecoach's 58 numbered 2C. Blackpool's tendered operation to Preston on the 58 and 68 ended at the same time. 31 October saw the Kirkham Roamer 70 revised to run a between Wesham and Lytham Saltcotes Road replacing another withdrawn Stagecoach route (the 69, once the joint Fylde/Ribble 193 given up by Blackpool in 2000). A half hourly service was provided with two buses, dedicated Solo 285 was joined by a pool liveried Solo.

Further changes on 5 December saw then end of the 2A - extra 2s filling the Poulton-South Pier shot and the 2C workings were diverted via Longhouse Road during the day (but not evenings or Sundays). The combined 2/2C PVR dropped from 19 to 18 as a result.
The Line 10 livery suited 593 well. It is seen here at Manchester Square. Oddly throughout its life its destination display was not modified to remove the "Via Town Centre" notation from the Midgeland Road display
To replace the 2A in South Shore, route 10 was upgraded from an off peak service to a full day (but not evenings/Sundays operation). It was re-routed away from Mereside now terminating in a loop via Highfield Road, Midgeland Road, School Road and Hawes Side Lane. It was given a light blue route identity and Metrorider 593 was so painted as the dedicated bus. The Lifestyle Line L1 was re-routed via Acre Gate and Lennox Gate to cover for the 2A in that area.
Solo 275 on the extended Kirkham Roamer to the less than convenient terminus of Saltcotes Road 
350 and 351 returned to use in the summer for a final spell of operation - both were withdrawn again in December
Fleet movements saw the reinstatement of Atlanteans 350/1 in June. Atlanteans commonly appeared on route 10 until the summer holidays when minibuses took over, as ten out of the 15 Atlanteans spent the holidays in store with 353/8/60-2 still active. All returned to use for the new term, but 350/1 were back in store at Marton in December. Long term stored ex Fylde 473 was moved to Rigby Road in September for stripping but remained on site at the end of the year.
362, the last of the 62 bus seated Atlanteans works the off peak route 10 in May 2005

The Atlanteans featured on a now regular duty when the normally Excel operated Line 7 was given over to double deckers for the annual Lytham Club Day on 25 June. 352, 353, 356, 359 and 363 were rostered with Olympians 368/74/7 with 360 seen on route 20 and 362 on the 10 for good measure.

Metrorider use fluctuated and surprisingly 589, 590 and 596 went on loan to Arriva North East in Darlington  due to the need to source vehicles urgently following another operator's cessation. The first two returned on 7 July with 596 back on 24th. All went into store but returned to use in October.

Excel 220 on 7 February having entered service a few days previously following purchase from Go North East
The three ex Go North East Excels made their debut with 220 first o 31 January, 221 on 1st February and 219 later in the month. Also acquired were two new to London Buses Leyland Olympians converted to open top by Ensign as 813/49 (D213/149FYM). Metrobus 864 was also used and 815 returned to use in July when four vehicles were required. 810/1 (BOK72/5V) and 821/2 (LAT501/2V) left the fleet and returned to Ensign. Ensign's generic branded VRG417T arrived in August to help out as 817 but suffered accident damage in September. It was repaired after the season and returned to Ensign.

Enviro 300 Demonstrator SN54HXG visited in December for use on Line 7, while a spares donor Metrorider arrived to repair stored 511. Registered  SIL7473 it was new to Lowland Scottish as L723JKS

2005 started with the repaints of new Excels 220/1 and the last Handybus Solo into pool livery in January. 219 and the final Handybus liveried Metrorider 588 and sister 592 received pool livery in February. March saw 123 become the first Delta in the black and yellow scheme while Volvo Olympians 376/7 lost Line 11 colours for pool livery with 374 following suit in April. Delta 118 was the first of four which moved from the 6 to the 11 in April with 116/7 following in May and 115 in June.
The early Deltas rarely troubled the painters but this year saw all of 101-107 painted into Metro colours ending the green and cream era.

Their replacements on Line 6 began to emerge in June with 107 the first, followed by 106 in July and 104/5 in August. Following problems with the claret fading on earlier repaints these were varnished to protect the finish. The era of green and cream Deltas was drawing to a close with 101 painted black and yellow in August followed by 103 and finally 102 in September - leaving just Atlanteans in green and cream.

With the Deltas completed 379 became the penultimate Olympian to lose 11 livery in November leaving 14 Deltas, six Tridents and 378 so attired. Routine Line 6 repaints began with 108, 109 and 114 treated in November and 110/2 in December. Further Metroriders lost the old pool livery with 591/4 painted black/yellow in November while 595 gained Line 2 green for the 2C extension. 593 was outshopped in blue/yellow for the Line 10 upgrade on 5 December and 589 was painted into the new pool livery in December.

At the end of the year the livery breakdown was:
  • Line 1: 365-7, 404-410 (10)
  • Line 2: 501-510, 512-8, 595 (18)
  • Line 3: 258-264 (7)
  • Line 4: 265-9, 271/2 (7)
  • Line 5: 249-257 (9)
  • Line 6: 104-110, 112-114 (10)
  • Line 7: 210-7 (8)
  • Line 10: 593 (1)
  • Line 11: 115-9, 122, 125-30/2/3, 322-7, 378 (21)
  • Line 14: 301-16 (16)
  • Line 15: 584-7 (4)
  • Line 20: 401-3 (3)
  • Old Pool: 124, 590 (2).
  • New Pool: 101-3, 123, 218-221, 273-6, 317-9, 368-373, 374-7/9, 588/9, 591/2/4/6  (32)
  • Lifestyle Line: 277-284 (8)
  • Kirkham Roamer: 285 (1)
 148 buses now carried Metro livery with just 352-364 in green and cream and eight Solos in Lifestyle line livery and one for Kirkham Roamer.