Tuesday 31 July 2012

More DAFs

358 and 360 - ex IOM 96 and 89 have now joined 354-357 at Rigby Road

Manx DAF Status
NoRegIOM NoIOM RegChassis NoBody NoStatus
354tbc97FMN835J00926738310Arr Blackburn Mar 2012 RR 6/7
355 tbc95FMN622J00926638309Arr Blackburn Apr 2012 RR 17/7
356tbc93FMN621J 00926138304Arr Blackburn Apr 2012  RR 27/7
357tbc94FMN620J00926438307Arr Blackburn 8 May 2012  RR 27/7
358tbc96FMN623J00926238305Arr Blackburn 8 May 2012 RR 30/7
360tbc 89FMN299J00925938302At Blackburn by late June 2012 RR 30/7
tbctbc90FMN503J00926038303At Blackburn by late June 2012
tbctbc91FMN618J00925838301At Blackburn by late June 2012
tbctbc92FMN619J00926338306At Blackburn by late June 2012
tbctbc98FMN836J00926538308At Blackburn by late June 2012

Monday 30 July 2012

Maybe its because they are Londoners

The archetypal London Bus, RML2391 arrives at Pleasure Beach on route 12. 

A London Trio. Blackpool Transport City Sightseeing branded Olympian 873 once London Buses L173 is followed by RM1568 at Tower with RML887 heading north in the distance

Seeing Double (or triple). The ten minute interval on route 14 has clearly gone awry as three Tridents head to Mereside together at Bank Hey Street. The two nearest the camera are 340 and 341, new to independent Blue Triangle (now part of Go Ahead) for use on Transport for London Tenders

Saturday 28 July 2012

DAF and Olympian update

Two more Bus Vannin DAFs have now arrived at Rigby Road with 356/7 joining 354/5. Sisters 360 has now been outshopped at Blackburn joining 358/9.

The end of the open golf has seen the retirement of the Olympians. On the last day (Sunday 22nd) 403, 405, 410 and 370 worked the G02 while 402 and 413 were noted on the G01 along side fleet liveried buses. The service was supplemented at the end of the event but 403 had the honour of the last to return to depot - 413 was the first having failed earlier in the day. The others dropped out of the roster during the week with 415 and 416 seeing least use and 365 and 417 lasting until 20th. 

Eight of the golf advertising buses are understood to have a future as static advertising hoardings at golf courses retaining their advertising. These are likely to be the ECW examples as 365 is understood to have been earmarked for preservation.

Monday 23 July 2012

Stagecoach (and friends) at the Open

Stagecoach Cumbria Scania/Alexander Enviro 15729 passes Olympian 16639 under the temporary footbridge across Clifton Drive South
Unlike previous open golf events at Lytham Stagecoach managed the Park and Ride operation - previously Blackpool Transport (or earlier Fylde Borough) were responsible. Stagecoach has countrywide experience of the event having been most recently involved with the 2010 St Andrews and 2011 Sandwich events. 
15729 at the loading point on St Andrews Road South.

Taken from the footbridge, Stagecoach 15818 is one of a small batch of new Enviros for Morecambe but made its debut on the Open Golf contract. It is running on the shuttle from the former Queen Mary School site

Reminiscent of school buses from Queens Mary's - albeit with somewhat more modern buses. Enviro 15819 leads the open top Trident on the Yellow car park service 
Some of the team who provided the shuttles pose with Chorley based Olympian 16639. This is on the "Public E" shuttle to Fairlawn Road YMCA site.

Olympian 16653 at the Promenade car park

Olympian 16654 at the Leach Lane / Blackpool Road car park

One of Stagecoach Merseyside ex London Alexander bodied Dennis Tridents leaves Fairlawn Road under the control of marshals.

Another of the Merseyside ex London Tridents 17269 (RUT842 originally X269NNO) at Blackpool Road

Warrington Transport also helped out. Here one of its ex London Volvo B7TLs waits at Leach Lane before heading via Ramsgate Road car park back to the Golf

Blackpool Excel 214 swings into Leach Lane on route 17 - normally a fairly deserted area is almost overwhelmed by buses

Another Warrington Volvo at Leach Lane

Blackpool 333 was working the private contract for the car park at South Shore Cricket Club when seen here on Headroomgate Road

Thursday 19 July 2012

City Sightseeing Resumes

Slightly overlooked in view of the interest in the golf operations, the City Sightseeing tour resumed on Monday to the same timetable as last year. 818 and 873 have been noted in use.

Golf Services

The oldest Olympian, 365, stands at Starr Gate with 405 behind

Route G01 starts at North Station, where 402 awaits custom

402 on Talbot Road

On leaving St Thomas Church buses turn via Derbe Road. Here 402 on the G01 leads 405 on the G02 onto St. Annes Promenade

405 on the G01 on Talbot Road on its way to North Station

410 arriving at North Station

410 swings back onto Clifton Drive South from Links Road - note the buses in the background at the terminus

417 at Starr Gate with a Cass of Wirral double decker heading onto Clifton Drive

Today 417 has operated on school route 916 in St. Annes (while 373 ran on the G01!)

In contrast to the aged Olympians Stagecoach have used brand new Enviros on their Park and Ride contract. Here 15819 and 15818 pass on the Yellow service. Older Tridents and Olympians have also seen use.

Less conventional is this part open top Trident normally operating in the Lake District

Tridents 333 and 334 saw use on a private contract from South Shore Cricket Club to the championship. 333 fights its way through the traffic with 370 behind

Wednesday 18 July 2012

355 Arrives

DAF 355, former IOM 95 has now arrived at Rigby Road. Not previously reported is the arrival of IOM 91 at Blackburn in late June.

Manx DAF Status
NoRegIOM NoIOM RegChassis NoBody NoStatus
354tbc97FMN835J00926738310Arr Blackburn Mar 2012 Finished May 2012 
355 tbc95FMN622J00926638309Arr Blackburn Apr 2012 Finished May 2012
356tbc93FMN621J 00926138304Arr Blackburn Apr 2012 Finished May 2012
tbctbc94FMN620J00926438307Arr Blackburn 8 May 2012 Finished July 2012
tbctbc96FMN623J00926238305Arr Blackburn 8 May 2012 Finished July 2012
tbctbc 89FMN299J00925938302At Blackburn by late June 2012
tbctbc90FMN503J00926038303At Blackburn by late June 2012
tbctbc91FMN618J00925838301At Blackburn by late June 2012
tbctbc92FMN619J00926338306At Blackburn by late June 2012
tbctbc98FMN836J00926538308At Blackburn by late June 2012

Monday 16 July 2012

Operator Variety

Archway Travel of Poulton is a regular sight on the Fylde Coast operating several school contracts. SUI2725 is an unusual  East Lancs bodied Dennis Arrow new to London and Country as N802TPK

Elite Minibus Service of Carelton's Solo MX08DHE is used on route 87 Cleveleys to Poulton

Contrasts in historic transport with a landau sandwiched between Box 40 and RML2391 which has joined the Classic Bus fleet

Stagecoach's 84 (Poulton to Fleetwood) uses these unusual Optare Versas

More from the open

In hostile weather for golfers, 370 waits at Starr Gate tram terminus. All ten Olympians feature Direct Golf nearside adverts (plus a front banner), yourgolftravel.com offside adverts and a rear scheme for Nike Golf. 

415 heads for St. Annes on route GO2

Sunday 15 July 2012

Golf Service Tees Off

Olympian 416 on route G01 (despite the number blind) at Manchester Square
Today saw the start of the week long open golf services as pre tournament practice started prior to the competition proper starting on Thursday. Seven of the sponsored Olympians were used with 365, 370, 403, 405, 415, 416 and 417 providing services G01 and G02.

G01 runs from North Station to St Thomas Church every 30 minutes from 0710-1110, 1130-1500 with return journeys 1120, 1150, 1210 and every 30 to 2010

G02 runs from Starr Gate tram terminus to St Thomas Church from 0700, 0730, 0800, 0830, 0900, 0920, 0940, 1000 and every 10 minutes to 1550. Return buses are 1100 and every 10 to 1800, 1820, 1840, 1910, 1940, 2010.

(With apologies for the title).

Wednesday 11 July 2012

DAF Arrives

354 - the first of ten East Lancs bodied DAFs purchased from Bus Vannin arrived at Rigby Road on Friday 6th July. Sisters 357/8 have now been outshopped at Blackburn. Olympians 370 and 417 have surprisingly seen use on school contracts in their Golf themed all-over adverts.

Saturday 7 July 2012

25 Years of the City Pacers

Brand new City Pacers 564 and 560 contrast with 20 year old PD3 518 in Rigby Road depot
On 24 March the first of an eventual fleet of 35 Optare City Pacers arrived at Blackpool. Minibuses had become common following experiments by the National Bus Company in Exeter in 1984. Most early minibuses were van conversions or coach built bodies on van/chassis cowl. Optare broke new ground in 1986 with the coach built City Pacer, still based on a van chassis (Volkswagen LT55) but with a stylish body and higher driving position addressing many weaknesses of the van conversions.
The coach built City Pacer body was quite high floored with a narrow door and high driving position. Here the brand new 561 contrasts with the tangled wrecks of a nearly scrapped OMO tram and burnt out Atlantean
The pioneer was numbered 560 (D560YCW) and was joined by sisters 561-564 (D561-4YCW) over the next few days. Although the City Pacer could see 25, Blackpool opted for just 19 seats - with higher backed seats on 563/4 for private hire work. They entered service, initially on tendered services, in May before moving onto the St. Annes Handybus route in June.
Demonstrator D898NUA, which became Blackpool 566, among more traditional fleet members
The second batch - bought for route 26 - arrived rather fitfully with 549 (E549GFR) first to arrive on 27 August, ten days before the launch of the 26. Earlier in the month Optare provided two demonstrators for driver training and they were soon purchased becoming 565 (D854MUA) and 566 (D898NUA). The latter (uniquely for Blackpool) featured automatic transmission and 25 seats - rather than the normal 5 speed manual gearbox.
The rest of the new batch were 550-559, 567/8 (E550GFR etc). 550-3 arrived between 12 and 20 September, 554-59/67/8 between 18 and 31 October and all were in use by early November. 565/6 were repainted into Handybus colours from their white demonstrator corridor.
560 and 562 pass on St. Thomas Road on the St. Annes Handybus route in 1987
Batch three arrived in the last two weeks of July 1988 ready to launch route 9 on 1 August. These featured 4 speed gearboxes and were 569/70 (E569/70OCW) and 571-8 (F571-8RCW). They were followed by 579-82 (F579-82WCW) on 5 December, a week before the launch of the 7/7A.
The City Pacers settled into a routine life with little out of the ordinary, save for a charity trip from Paris to Blackpool undertaken by 582 on 9 April 1989. Blackpool Transport names and promotional lettering for the trip were applied and retained to its first repaint. In 1990 it was decided to fit an extra double seat in place of  the luggage bin making them 21 seaters.

A 35th solo joined the fleet in December 1989. Optare had provided a demonstrator (F934AWW) for a short period in January 1989 and sold the bus to Blackpool at the end of the year. Numbered 583 it was used initially in Optare's colours  - often as a driver trainer - until repaint into black and yellow during the summer. Routine repaints took place featuring a yellow roof to reduce sun absorption during the early 1990s.
Several City Pacers became caravans, including 573 which remained local to the Fylde as seen here at Fairhaven Lake in 2004

Run Down
The take-over of Fylde Borough saw the Handybus fleet expand with 20 Renaults, though several were withdrawn during the integration of the two networks in November. Soon after the launch of the City Pacer MCW launched the integral Metrorider - with no van influences, but this was not enough to secure MCW's future and it closed down. Optare bought rights to the Metrorider which hastened the end of the City Pacer. A seed vehicle was placed with Blackpool Transport in 1995 (584) and resulted in an order for eight which arrived later in the year. October 1995 saw City Pacers 549, 550, 560 and 561 were withdrawn and were part exchanged for Metroriders 585-588 while in November 551/2, 562-4 went back to Optare in exchange for 589-592 - the ninth effectively replaced by 584.

These initial nine disposals all went for further use. 549 was briefly with Jones Llanfaethlu (flickr)before reaching Zak's of Birmingham and moving onto a brief final career with City Hopper of Portsmouth in 2001. 550's next service career was short, running with Walsh of Middleton before sale as a motor home by August 1996. It was still declared on SORN in 2009 but is now shown as unlicensed and may therefore have been scrapped. 551 went to Walsh with 550 but became a non psv with a firm in Eccleston during the summer, lasting until 2002. 552 travelled around running with Bratihwaite in Cumbria, Globe in Barnsley, J&R in Accrington and finally Jowett of Hull in 2001.

560 went to Reading Buses and later Thames Travel and has been preserved since 2001. 561 ran with Top Cat of Mirfield before becoming a non psv, while 562 ran for a Northumberland operator. In still survived in 2010 under conversion to a mobile home. 563 is believed to have survived until 2002 but with an unknown owner. 564 joined 549 at Zaks but was withdrawn after a year.
More Metroriders arrived in 1996 (593-6 in May and 501-4 in September). These, and changes to routes in August 1996, saw 553-558 and the two demonstrators (565/6) withdrawn. 553-555 went to Handybus, Warminster (a new firm using Blackpool's name) in January 1997 (555 on flickr). 553/4 moved to Powercrafts of Blackburn in December 1997 for two years service and were scrapped in 2004 after several years gathering dust in their yard. 555 passed to Virgin of Oadby and ended its career in 1999. 556-558, 566 passed to Reading Buses to compete with Reading Mainline (who had ex Blackpool Routemasters!). They lasted until 1998. 566 was exported to Guernsey, 558 ran with Thames Travel who used 557 for spares. 556 was stripped by Reading. 565 was exported to Ireland.
With 17 sold, 18 remained in service at the start of 1997. More Metroriders arrived in late 1998 but through elaborate cascades replaced Atlanteans so 559, 567-583 survived once more. Optare launched the low floor Solo minibus to replace the Metrorider and Blackpool took 15 at the end of 1999 to replace the last City Pacers. 

569 was withdrawn in October having suffered mechanical failure and started to donate spares to its sisters. The first Solos were to convert route 33 from 4 January 2000 and this allowed 559, 567/8, 570-3, 580/1 to be withdrawn on 30 December. 559/67 racked up just over 12 years service - credible for this type. 575 retired on 24 January with 576/7 soon after leaving 574, 578/9 and 582/3 for the final day on 29 January all working routes 23, 24 and 25.
Former 583 with Mac Tours in their attractive red and cream livery (James Millington)
Early disposals saw 572 and 583 pass to Mac Tours of Edinburgh in February where they ran until 2002. 570 followed for spares in October 2000. 583 rematerialised on Ebay in September 2007 as a aborted caravan conversion. 570/2 have been scrapped. 580/1 are believed to have gone to Ireland, 577 remained in Blackpool as a mobile showroom for a local bathroom company who used it until 2003. 573 was purchased privately as a caravan and was seen around the Fylde until 2006. 575 was purchased for preservation by Graham Oliver who painted in green and cream as a what might have been. It has since returned to black/yellow and is now in LTT ownership.

McKindless of Wishaw swept up the remainder - 559, 567/8, 571, 574, 576, 578, 579 and 582 and the remains of 569 (flickr 567). Not all were used, but some received Irish registrations. 559/68 were scrapped locally, several others went to Holts of Bolton dealership. 567 was later used by Craven Arms Taxis in 2001, 574 became a caravan and was still in use in 2011.

Today 560 and 575 survive in preservation, the former in the Reading area, the latter with LTT. 562 is believed still to be in the North East - it is on SORN to September 2012. 550 and 574 are now unlicensed (since 2009 and 2011) while 583 has not resurfaced after its ebay listing.

Trams and Buses around Fleetwood

"Bold Street Interchange". Flexity tram 010 waits departure for Starr Gate as Excel 216 waits at the route 14 terminus. Trident 349 overtakes the Excel on a working of route 1 to Freeport. 

"The more it changes the more it is the same thing". Among the missed opportunities of the Supertram upgrade was the opportunity to solve Albert Square bus stop where buses obstruct the swept path of trams. Here Cumfybus Solo EH06UNY - in the remains of an Edge Hill University advert is ready to leave for Blackpool in front of Flexity 015

Trident 347 on Bold Street which was remodeled to segregate tram and bus movements.

Sunday 1 July 2012

370 for Golf Advert

370 has been selected as the final Leyland Olympian to receive a golf wrap. As reported earlier this week, 402 has been wrapped meaning just one of the East Lancs examples is to be done.

365, 370, 402, 403, 405, 410, 413, 415, 416 and 417 make up the final line up. This leaves 407/8, 412 and 414 in store.