Sunday 16 December 2018

Catching Up - Blackpool Transport

Driver Trainers
Trident 339 has now entered service as a trainer, numbered 975, after passing its MOT in early December. Solo 292 has been relicensed for use as a route learning bus.

Christmas Market Trips
Blackpool Transport has operated some excursions to Christmas Markets with 5 to Manchester, 2 to Skipton and 1 to Garstang markets. The Manchester trips have used Enviro 400s, while Enviro 200 238 was noted on the Skipton run on 2nd December.

Christmas Bus
The newest Enviro 400, 455, has been decorated for Christmas with rear end and lower side panel greetings. Sister 401 had an updated advert for Blackpool Better start applied during late October or early November.
455's offside decorations (Richard Hughes)

455's nearside decorations at Cleveleys (Richard Hughes) 
455's rear end decorations (Richard Hughes)

Boxing Day and New Years Day Services

The usual Boxing Day and New Years Day services are planned by Blackpool Transport. There are some changes to the established pattern reflecting route changes with 25 buses required

  • 1 Fleetwood Freeport to Blackpool Queen St every 30 minutes (4 buses)
  • 5 every 30 minutes (increased from hourly) (3 buses)
  • 6 every 30 minutes (4 buses)
  • 7 Cleveleys to St. Annes every 60 minutes (3 buses)
  • 9 every 30 minutes (3 buses)
  • 11 Blackpool to Lytham every 30 minutes (4 buses) - extended from St. Annes 
  • 14 every 30 mintues (4 buses)

Solo 276 has recently been privately preserved, ex Halton and has regained its original registration (V276HEC). It now lives at the Town and District Transport Trust premises near Accrington alongside Excel 225, Olympian 374 and Atlanteans 444 and 496.

Dekka Bus Update
November saw former Blackpool 354 receive its interior makeover as shown in the photos below. Its similar to 358 but with a different interior. It is due for repaint in January with 359 to be refurbished in the new year too. 354 will become F5ELF and 359 F5HDN. Accident damaged 362 is now a spares donor. Thanks again to Mark Self for sending updated.
354 new upper deck (Mark Self)
354 new lower deck (Mark Self)

The sad end for 362 the extent of its accident damage is clear here. It is now a spares donor (Mark Self)

Sunday 4 November 2018


Catch 22 GX54DWO entered service on 1 November - the first of the four ex Stagecoach Midlands Darts to see service (Philip Higgs)
The first of Catch 22's new Darts has entered service, GX54DWO carries an advert for Hounds Hill Centre and made its debut on 1 November. The previous day a Versa failure saw open top Olympian P534EFL drafted into keep the 24 running! 

Perhaps the most unexpected working of the year, Northern Counties bodied Volvo Olympian P534EFL covered for a Versa on the 24 on 31 October (Philip Higgs)
Preston Bus are continuing to provide a variety of buses from its Blackpool outstation. Peter Turner has reported the following present on 21 October: Volvo B12B 11523/5, Mercedes 12000 and 14003, Ford Transits 15039/41, Optare Solos, 20769/73/86, 20831/75, Dennis Tridents 40005/9/12 and Volvo B9TL 40503.

Blackpool Transport continues to dispose of its surplus buses. 362 was collected by Dekkabus on 25 October with a new registration Y829YBV, but unfortunately was damaged in a multi vehicle collision on the M6 later that day. Dekkabus has since, collected 354 and 359 on 1st November. The final Manx Trident, 353, left on 3rd November collected by The Busman Ltd of Knutsford, set up by Adrian Morton former owner of Morton's Travel (where he bought Blackpool 225, 333 and 335) and today it was in use on rail replacement work! 

The era of ex Blackpool Solos at Halton has ended with the withdrawal of their 57 last month - it awaits disposal and has reverted to V272HEC. 

Service changes took place today as planned, however an expected closure of the Promenade at Talbot Square from 5 November has been put back to 12th November. The 3 and 4 are using Topping Street again to access Dickson Road from the 5th, while the 5, 6 and 7 are using temporary stops on the Promenade. Also from the 5th, the stops outside Wilko reopen and will be served by northbound 5, 6, 7, 9 and 14.

The town centre routes from 12th November are:
  • 1 terminates at Queen Street, terminates via Promenade, Pleasant Street, Dickson Road, Springfield Road, Abingdon St, Queen St and back via Dickson Road to Pleasant St
  • 2, 2C, 18 and 19 arrive via Church St, St Johns Square to Abingdon St then return via Talbot Road, Cookson St, George St, Grosvenor St Church St
  • 3 and 4 to Cleveleys from Church St via Topping St and Dickson Road
  • 3 and 4 to Mereside from Dickson St, via Pleasant St, Promenade, Springfield Road, Abingdon St (stop), Queen St, Dickson Road, Talbot Road, Cookson St, George St, Grosvenor St, Church St or Park Road
  • 5 to Halfway House and 7 to St. Annes from Talbot Road via Cookson St (stop outside council offices), George St, Grosvenor Street, Church St (stop), South King St, Adelaide St, Coronation St (stop), Reads Avenue, Central Drive
  • 5 to Hospital and 7 to Cleveleys from Promenade via Church St, Corporation St, Clifton St (stop), Abingdon St, Talbot Road (stop Wilko)
  • 6 to Mereside from Caunce St via Grosvenor Street, Church St (stop), South King St, Adelaide St, Coronation St (stop), Reads Avenue, Central Drive
  • 6 to Grange Park from Promenade via Church St, Corporation St (stop), Clifton St, St Johns Square, Caunce Street (stop)
  • 9 and 14 terminate at Queen Street turning via Talbot Road, Dickson Road, Springfield Road, Abingdon St to Queens Street then back via Dickson Road to Talbot Road (prior to 5th November these have used High Street/Springfield Road)
  • 11 and 17 terminate at Market St turning via Church St, Corporation St, West Street.
  • Catch 22 Service 21 to St. Annes via Promenade, Springfield Road, Abingdon St, Queen St, Dickson Road, Talbot Road, Cookson Street, Caunce St, Grosvenor St, Church St, South King St, Adelaide St, Coronation St, Reads Avenue, Central Drive, New Bonny St to Promenade
  • Catch 22 Service 21 to Cleveleys via Promenade, Church St, Corporation St, Clifton St, Abingdon St, Queen Street, Dickson Road

Wednesday 24 October 2018

DAF disposals

Three more withdrawn DAFs have been sold. 355 has gone to B&J Barnoldswick, 364 to Midland Bus Hire, Birminghamand 362 joins 358 at Dekkabus.  

Saturday 20 October 2018

Catch 22 Bus

KP04GZM - one of the latest additions to the Catch 22 fleet in their new green and blue livery (Philip Higgs)

Catch 22 has upgraded its fleet recently with some Dennis Darts from Stagecoach Midlands. KP04GZM is the first repainted into the new livery, GX54OWO has gained an all-over advert for Hounds Hill Centre.
GX54OWO shows off its new Hounds Hill allover advert (Philip Higgs)

Also the company has regularly used open toppers from its affiliated Sightseeing Tours business on the Beach Bus 26 and sometimes the Coastliner 21. Its most recent one to enter service is V145MEV which has received an allover advert for Marton Mere Holiday Park and it is expected to regularly work the 26 in the summer and Sightseeing Tours in the winter. 

The Sightseeing Tour business uses mainly Alexander bodied Dennis Tridents with V158MEV and V362OWC branded for Manchester, V168MEV for Birmingham and W501RBB with generic branding. Northern Counties Volvo Olympian P534EFL is also operated. All have the same green and blue livery now being used by Catch 22. 158, 168, 362 and 534 have been seen in service in Blackpool.

Routemaster RM2681, repatriated from Denmark in February 2017 has been progressively overhauled since and has recently moved for underframe painting. 

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Winter Service Changes and Fleet Disposals

Blackpool Transport has announced some minor service changes from Sunday 4th November. Most significant is the withdrawal of the 7 between St. Annes and Saltcotes in favour of service 17. The changes in summary are:

  • 1 - Blackpool Town Centre (Queen Street) to Fleetwood Affinity Outlet (the former Freeport) at a winter frequency of 30 minutes daily. The Starr Gate section is suspended due to a planned Promenade closure at Talbot Square. 4 buses v current 8 (MF), 5 (SASU). 
  • 2 Unchanged - 2 buses
  • 2C - rerouted in Knott End via Grasmere Road and Pilling Lane to improve access to the Over Wyre Medical Centre in Knott End. 5 buses
  • 3 and 4 minor timing changes - Saturday service runs every 30 minutes on each - this was adopted for the Illuminations period, but the usual 20 minute frequency is not being reintroduced 15 buses
  • 5 and 6 minor timing changes (9 and 8 buses resp)
  • 7 withdrawn St. Annes to Saltcotes Road and reduced to every 20 minutes - 8 buses (v 13 currently)
  • 9 unchanged (8 buses)
  • 11 unchanged - continues every 15 mins M-F, 20 Sat, 30 Sun - the Saturday service reduced from 15 mins (8 buses)
  • 14 winter service (12 minutes M-S, 30 Sundays v 10 mins M-F and 20 Sats presently) 11 v 13 buses
  • 17 extends from St. Annes to Saltcotes Road replacing the 7. Runs every 30 minutes, hourly eves/Suns - this reinstates an evening service on the 17 for the first time since May 2011. 5 buses (v 3 now)
  • 18 diverts via Stanley Park (2 buses)
  • 19 unchanged (1 bus)
  • 20 withdrawn for winter
This gives a fleet requirement of 85 buses plus 3 on schools a reduction of 9 buses v the current timetables.

More withdrawn buses have left the fleet. Trident 341 went for scrap on 19th September. Solo 250 has moved to Henshaws Coaches of Moreton in Marsh, DAFs 357 and 361 have joined 363 with Ashcrofts of Runcorn. 242 and 248 are running for CTN Nottingham, rather than Redfern Travel (who do some maintenance for CTN) 247 is assumed there too. 294 to 297 are sold to Powell's of Hellaby. This leaves 13 Solos, 3 Tridents and 8 DAFs in store. 364/5 were stored at the end of August leaving just 367-372 in service.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Catch 22 Fleet Update

YJ10EYZ newly delivered to the Catch 22 depot in Marton (Philip Higgs)
Catch 22 has added a fourth Optare Versa to its fleet. YJ10EYZ has been purchased from Llew Jones of Llanwrst - though is wasn't used there. It was used previously by Helms of Eastham. Four Dennis Darts are also due shortly from Stagecoach Midlands as KP04GZM, KP04GZR, GX54DWO and GX54DWP. These are expected to replace ex Cardiff Darts.

Ex Cardiff Dart W369VHB has left the fleet, while newer Y378/82/8GAX are withdrawn awaiting disposal along with the last Volvo B6 W812PFB and Dennis Trident S833BWC.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

News Update

For Blackpool Airshow on 11th and 12th August Blackpool Transport ran a "Park and Glide" shuttle bus from a car park at Blackpool Airport to Starr Gate tram terminus. It was well used each day. 232 is seen at Starr Gate (Mike Wilson)
Blackpool Transport
Illumination weekend timetables start from Saturday 1st November, with some frequency reductions and running time increases.

Another route change in Blackpool Town Centre on 23rd July saw the 2, 2C, 12, 18 and 19 move to Topping Street following the closure of Abingdon St/Talbot Road Bus Station. Routes 5, 6 and 7 are also running through St John's Square from Clifton Street to Topping Street.

Catch 22
Not previously reported is the arrival of Y401NHK - a new to Stagecoach East London Alexander bodied Dennis Trident - this is in service in the new livery also seen on the repainted Versa. Following the disposal of Dart 147 for preservation, SN55HSK has taken its duties as a tow vehicle.

Solo Disposals and Tridents 347/8 pictures

Three more Solos have left the Blackpool Transport fleet today with 242/7/8 sold to Redfern Travel. DAF 363 has passed to Ashcroft's Runcorn. 

Former Blackpool 347 and 348 have settled into a new career with Lodge's of High Easter (David Bell - with thanks to David for sharing these and also for Paul Wigan for passing the on the photos)

Saturday 4 August 2018

News Round Up

Blackpool Transport
359 is the latest DAF to be withdrawn and has joined sisters in store at Jacksons Coaches, Marton. Solo 242 is now also on SORN, sister 248 has been noticed on driver training duties on 23 July.

Timetabled Rail Replacement work from Blackpool North to Preston finally ended on Sunday 29th July. Some BTS buses have been on standby at Blackpool North and have also been observed on some South line rail replacements and the continuing Saturday work between Wigan and Manchester. Examples of 436-442 have been noted on local services since then. 

A 'Park and Glide' service is advertised for the weekend of 11th and 12th August - when Blackpool Airshow is on. This uses a car park at Blackpool Airport and a shuttle bus to Starr Gate tram stop. 

Former Tridents 344 is in service with Tanat Valley - photo here, sister 346 is also in their livery (photo), with no further report of 343 yet.

Catch 22 Bus
Catch 22 has introduced a new livery with Versa YJ61JHH in this "lime green and Monsoon Blue" livery similar to that used on the affiliated Sightseeing Bus operation in Manchester and Birmingham (Philip Higgs)

Coastal Coaches
Not previously reported is service 78 was diverted in Ansdell to reinstate a service on Commonside from late June. It runs from South Hey via Worsley Road, Central Drive, Gordon Road, Commonside to rejoin the previous route at Blackpool Road. Other than school buses, Commonside was unserved from 26 March when Stagecoach diverted its 68 away. 

358 with Dekkabus

Former BTS DAF 358 has been refurbished internally by its new owner Dekkabus - high backed seats feature throughout. It has also now been re-registered F5HOR These pictures have been kindly provided by Mark Self from Dekkabus. 

Tuesday 17 July 2018


Blackpool Transport Solos 242 and 248 remain licensed, all others have been delicensed on entry into service of the Enviro 200s. Neither is understood to have been used, however. 

The new buses have settled into their 3 and 4 duty - 3 are spare each day and one seems common on the 19, with others noted on the 17 and 18. Sundays sees the former Solo duties covered on 2, 2C, 3, 4, 17, 18 and 19. With Palladium DDs on the 1, 6, 7, 9 and 11 and singles on the 5 - it is now normal to see a 100% Palladium Sunday service.

Catch 22 bus has regularly operated open toppers from the affiliated Sightseeing Tours operation on its Beach Bus 26 operation. These tend to return to Blackpool from outbases for maintenance. Olympian P534EFL, Tridents V158/68MEV have been noted - the latter most frequently. Dart 361 is the most common bus otherwise. 

On Diversion - Seafield Road

From 25 June for 3 weeks the 7, 11 and 68 were diverted in Lytham due to the closure of Church Road. Here BTS DAF 367 and a Stagecoach Enviro call at the replacement stop for Lytham Square on West Beach (Brian Turner)

To return to Church Road, buses used Seafield Road - used by Lytham Buses in the 1930s to avoid the tram service on Church Road. This year it was used to turn the 11 duing Club Day, 23 June - but its use is otherwise quite rare, Fairlawn Road further north is the more common alternative for diversions. DAF 370 turns from West Beach into Seafield Road (Brian Turner) 
Trident 328 heads down Seafield Road (Brian Turner)

Volvo B7RLE 522 turns from Seafield Road before passing the last surviving concrete bus shelter. (Brian Turner)

Monday 25 June 2018

Old and New Order on the 3 and 4

Brand New Enviro 200 number 222 approaches Mereside turning circle on its way to Tesco on 25 June (Brian Turner) 
Two together at Tesco terminus 230 and 232 on their first day in service (Brian Turner)

Direct to the door? Solo 238 gets closer to the Tesco checkouts than normal, this was one of two buses used for launch events - 229 at Cleveleys was the other (Brian Turner)

Solo 240 leaves the temporary stop on Abingdon Street on a service 4 to Mereside on 21 June (Brian Turner)

286 turns from Dickson Road into Talbot Road. Solos have dominated the 3 since it launched in April 2001 - 17 years of continuous allocation has concluded. (Brian Turner)

Sister bus 287 at Northumberland Avenue, Cleveleys Park (24 June) (Brian Turner) 
291 at the 3 and 4 stop on Abingdon Street on 21 June (Brian Turner)

Debut Day

The 18 new Enviro 200s made their debut today. 221-8, 230-7 all ran on the 3 and 4 while 229 and 238 acted as launch buses at Cleveleys and Mereside Tesco resp. 

Pictures can be seen on Mike Rhodes Flickr site here.

436-455 now have ticket machine bases fitted, some are still on rail replacements but others entered regular service today.

Update: 443-55 are now in the normal service fleet, 436-42 remain dedicated to rail work.

Saturday 23 June 2018

Its a wrap for 857

Green and Cream in Rigby Road - Trident 332, B7RLE 524, Atlanteans 362 and 364 taken from outside Totally Models today (Paul Turner)

Open top Olympian 857 made an appearance at Lytham Club Day in an all-over wrap for Lytham Festival. It will be the shortest lived bus advertising livery as its only for this one day! A picture is here on the festival's Facebook page. It has also recently put in an appearance at RVPT's Morecambe event on Sunday 26th May alongside ex Fylde Atlantean 71, Lytham PD2 10 and Blackpool PD3 512.

Further Solo and DAF withdrawals have taken place with DAFs 360, 361 and 362 now out of use and Solos 241 and 295 have joined 288 and 297 in store.

Blackpool Transport's rail replacement commitment has been extended again, but is reduced to around 7 buses. 

This weekend is Totally Models at Rigby Road - Atlantean 362 and Swift 554 are on the free bus service today, with RVPT's Ribble PD3 1775 and Bristol VR 1995 allocated for Sunday.

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Solos Sold

Solos 249 and 257 have been sold locally to Archway, of Fleetwood. 257 was the last of the 2003 Solos to operate and was withdrawn on 23 May. Trident 345 is now reported with Abbey Coachways in Goole. DAF 358 left Blackpool last Friday and is under refurbishment for Dekkabus of Poole. Sisters 354-7 are now in store, with the last Manx Trident 353.

Service Changes and round-up

More details of the BTS summer services are now available from 24th June - the 1, 6, 7, 14 and 20 are involved and 8 more vehicles are needed v the winter timetable with a requirement for 98 buses. 

  • Service 1 - Increased to every 20 minutes Monday-Friday from 30 mins (8 PVR v 5)
  • Service 6 - Sunday daytime service increased to every 20 minutes
  • Service 7 - Monday to Friday increased from every 20 to every 15 minutes (13 PVR v 10)
  • Service 14 - Monday to Friday increased from every 12 to every 10 minutes (13 PVR v 11)
  • Service 20 - withdrawn between Zoo and Preston New Road. Will run every 30 minutes Tower to Zoo 0945-1745 from Tower and 915 to 1815 from Zoo - meaning the first two outward journeys from the Zoo are before it opens at 1000! It remains weekends and school holidays only. 2 buses v 3 currently.
Not previously reported is that the service 5 school bus from Halfway House to Victoria Hospital has been cancelled, presumably from the March timetable change. Monday 11th June will see the 5, 6 and 7 stop on the Promenade rather than Market Street for a period as part of the tram extension work. The 17 will use Corporation Street instead.

The Rail Replacement contract has been further extended until 24 June due to well reported reliability issues. This gives a further stay of execution to the ex Manx DAFs, many of which are likely to be withdrawn when the E400s are cascaded onto the 7 and 11. 

All 18 of the Enviro 200s had arrived by the end of May, registration details are on the fleetlist page. Branding has started and some photos are here on Alistair Liddle's page. One is reported by BTS to be featuring in the Pride parade on Saturday 9th June. 

Trident 343 was reported back at Rigby Road on 31 May, presumably ready for collection by Tanat Valley. 

Preston Bus has confirmed the disposal of former Blackpool Delta K128UFV for scrap after use as a driver trainer. This was the last new to Blackpool Delta to survive, but sadly suffered a major engine failure which has rendered preservation proposals uneconomic. Their Blackpool outstation was home to:

  • Volvo Coaches 11519/23-5
  • Mercedes Coach 12000
  • Ford Transit 15041
  • Solos 20771/2/80, 20802/31
  • Dennis Tridents 40007, 40583/8
  • Scania double decker 40030
  • DAF double decker 40201

Friday 25 May 2018

More Trident Disposals

Tanat Valley of Llanrhaeadr-Ym-Mochnant near Oswestry has acquired three of the ex Isle of Man Tridents - 343 (H1FBT), 344 (E11BTS) and 346 (E13BTS). 343 has been re-registered W393TBV. 344 has been reported under repaint, 343 was awaiting collection. The last Manx Trident remaining unsold is 353 - this has been taken out of service and is on SORN now.

Ex Bus Vannin Isle of Man Tridents
NoRegIOM NoIOM RegDisposalDateRegistration if changed
343H1FBT53EMN53YTanat Valley May 2018 W393TBV
344E11BTS50EMN50YTanat ValleyMay 2018n/a
345  E12BTS  48EMN50YStockdale, Selby April 2018n/a
346E13BTS51EMN51YTanat ValleyMay 2018n/a
347E14BTS52EMN52YLodge, High Easter Dec 2017n/a 
348E15BTS49EMN49YLodge, High Easter Dec 2017n/a
349E16BTS71MAN93FReading BusesJan 2018 X399KBV
350E17BTS75GMN324F Reading BusesJan 2018X393KBV
351E18BTS74FMN540EReading BusesJan 2018 X401KBV
352E19BTS73FMN412EReading BusesJan 2018 X398KBV
353E20BTS72FMN158Estill BTStbcn/a

Monday 21 May 2018

BTS Summer timetable

24th June is the start date for the summer timetable. Registrations for services 1, 6, 7, 14 and 20 have been recorded, the 1 will run every 20 minutes, 7 every 15 minutes, 14 every 10 minutes. No details of the changes to the 6 and 20 are available.

Route 20 is currently terminating at Clifton Arms, with buses laying over by Little Marton Windmill, presumably turning at the M55 roundabout. Buses display "Preston New Road for Marton Mere".

Blackpool North to Preston rail replacement work is continuing beyond the start of the new timetable yesterday with services shown until 3 June. 

Wednesday 16 May 2018

Last Excel Returns North

The sole surviving Blackpool Excel, 225 (T935EAN) has returned to Lancashire today. One of five bought from Reading, it was the last of its type in service in November 2016, it was sold to Morton's Travel of Basingstoke in May 2017. It formed part of Adrian Morton's preserved collection. Morton's recently changed hands and Adrian has sold many of his collection. It has been purchased by Mark Mccarrick and is moving to the Town and District Transport Trust premises near Accrington.

Saturday 12 May 2018

More deliveries, more diversions

Two further Enviro 200s are now in stock, with 223/4 arriving on Thursday as well as 221/2 as reported. The batch will be 221 to 238 and are 34 seaters. 

The town centre diversions, expected from 9th May, now take effect from Monday 14th with the 5 and 7 using Clifton Street and 6 Corporation Street northbound.

Friday 11 May 2018

Solo in the Movies - DAF Trainer into Preservation

Former Blackpool Solo 274 is due to become a film star as it is currently in the Great Yarmouth area for filming work for a Danny Boyle film. It retains Halton's livery and has regained its original registration V274HEC in lieu of the dateless plate used by Halton. A fake plate is carried for filming.

971 (W471MKU) - the single deck driver trainer - has been delivered to the South Yorkshire Transport Trust premises near Rotherham today for preservation. This was one of 11 East Lancs bodied DAFs delivered new to Yorkshire Terrier in 2000. It was purchased in July 2013 from Stagecoach Sheffield (successor to Terrier) and finally entered service as a driver trainer in April 2015. It was out of use by March 2018, with Trident 339 under preparation as its replacement.

Thursday 10 May 2018

First Enviro 200 arrives

The first new midibus for nine years has arrived today, as YX18KWA - one of 18 Alexander Dennis Enviro 200s due. These are expected to replace the remaining 21 Optare Solos. They carry the Palladium livery and many of the features of the last batch of Enviro 400s are included. The new bus is illustrated on the Blackpool Transport twitter page linked below. Update - YK18KWB also arrived today.

Friday 4 May 2018

Diversions and Route Changes

Some minor route changes are taking place during May to Blackpool Transport's network:

  • Saturday 5 May - service 20 will now start/finish at Clifton Arms on Preston New Road, following Haven's awarding of a concession to use Marton Mere to Catch 22's service 26.
  • Monday 7 May - service 18 will now serve Stanley Park via Mere Road, West Park Drive and Knowsley Avenue. This is a temporary arrangement until daily service on the 20 resumes in the summer
  • Wednesday 9 May - various route changes are registered from this day, when access is available to Clifton Street in Blackpool Town Centre once more. Routes 2, 2C, 5, 6, 7, 12, 18 and 19 are affected

Saturday 28 April 2018

Rail Replacements, Repaints, Disposals

The delayed re-opening of the Blackpool North line took place on 16th April, however only with one train per hour as crew training continued. Rail Replacement buses are continuing until at least 5th May, possibly until the new timetable starts on 20 May - when electric trains will make their debut. The bus service now runs every 30 minutes on the direct and 'all stations' routes, with the peak fasts to or from Poulton retained.

Trident 313 is currently under a repaint into the old black and yellow livery following removal of its Sands Venue wrap. It has carried this since late May 2014 - one of the longest lived all-over adverts. 313 has only carried the fleet livery for about two months. It received its first advert - for Tower Dungeon - in 2012, replacing its Metro green base. When this expired, along with sisters 312/4/5 which had schemes for other venues, it was painted into fleet livery. However the Sands advert came along and as the only ones without advert frames, freshly painted 313 was chosen.

Sales are reported for Tridents 344 and 345 - the latter possibly to Stockdale of Selby (who have 334/7). DAF 358 is also reported as sold. 

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Survivors Update

Former Blackpool Trident 351 (E18BTS) is now Reading Buses 535 (X401KBV). Yesterday it was one of two ex Blackpool Tridents used on the first day of Reading's service 7 between Reading and Fleet, which has been taken over from Stagecoach. It is seen here in Hartley Wintney (Steve Foster - see his Flickr for more)
A number of former Blackpool Buses have changed hands, or appearance, recently. These are tracked on the Survivors page on this blog. The four Tridents sold to Reading have now entered service as seen above. 

Solo 284 has passed to The Eden, West Auckland where it has replaced older sister 282 which is now with Huw's Coaches in Caernarfon. Some of the original 15 Solos of early 2000 are still in use. Yorkshire Tiger sold its last two for scrap last year (262/4) but Blackpool Council still uses 267 for the tramway track gang, while Halton retains two of the six it bought (272 and 276). 273 is understood to still be with Star of Aylesbury and 269 with John's Blaenau.

Chepstow Classic Buses has repainted former PD3 518 (HFR518E) in original livery - its first repaint since Blackpool Transport painted it in 1989 on disposal to its first private owner. Pics on their Facebook page here. 518 joins fellow PD3s 512 and 529 as repainted in the six months.

Sunday 15 April 2018

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Not quite 'in the jungle' but Lion 44 slumbers awaiting a new home 14th April 2018 (Philip Higgs)

An 81 year old relic of the Fylde's transport past has been thrust into the limelight thanks to a Facebook 'market place' advert. Between 1935 and 1937 Lytham St. Annes Corporation bought 25 Gearless Leylands, 11 Lions to replace its older Guys on local services and 14 Titans to replace the Lytham trams. 44 (BTF24) was the last of Lions. It arrived at Squires Gate Depot in late March 1937 - its date of registration was the 25th. The 11 Lions were made up of four Burlingham bodied examples, 29-31 of 1935 and 32 of 1936- all these became open toppers in 1946. The rest were Leyland bodied - 33, 34 and 40 of 1936 and 41 to 44 in 1937.

Withdrawals of the Leyland bodied Gearless Lions commenced in 1956 with 44 the last to operate around August 1962, having soldiered on alone after 43 was retired in 1959. An ex Lancaster Leyland Tiger replaced it. Two Gearless Lions survived into preservation, 34 (BTB928) and 44. 34 started off with the West of England Transport Collection at Winkleigh. After a few further owners it was acquired by Fylde in 1988 and restored - returning to use in early 1992. It passed with the business to Blackpool Transport who continued to use it for a few more years. It fell into disuse and passed to LTT (now Fylde Transport Trust) in 2008. Re-restoration was completed last year - but an engine knock has sidelined it.

44 was stored for a while by Lytham, passing through a dealers hands to Pyatt and Steele, Cheadle for preservation - it appeared at a rally at Stanford Hall on 10 September 1967. In 1971 it was purchased by Terry Robinson for the Three Counties Historic Vehicle Society and moved to Haxey near Doncaster and was rallied again. Next owner in the late 1970s was Dennis Bonsall of Long Bennington (Lincs) but in 1983 was noted with Reigate Coaches in a green based livery at an LT depot open day. Reigate Coaches was owned by Les Burchell, who continues to own Blackpool Leyland Tiger 7 today.

44 on arrival at Haxey following purchase by Terry Robinson (Brian Maguire)
44's final tax disc expired in November 1985 and it went into store. In 1997 it was purchased by Allan Haynes of Hingham and was stored at Attleborough for a while. In 1999 it was purchased by Rexquote - a Somerset heritage operator now known as Quantock Motors. From there it passed to Phil James of Cardigan - who was involved in the restoration of Lytham's non Gearless Lion 24 (TJ6760). From there it was purchased by its current owners - the Higgins family of Cheshire.

They owned a Rawtenstall Tiger - originally Gearless but by now manual; and a Ribble converted tow wagon. Sadly 44 hasn't been restored and has now been offered for sale. At least one offer has been made to secure the bus for possible future restoration - and hopefully we can report on its future here soon.

Looking rather careworn - the interior of 44 (Philip Higgs)

Wednesday 11 April 2018

New and Old

Modernisation of the Blackpool bus fleet continues. Sunday saw Enivro 400s operating on seasonal service 20 - once home to the oldest Atlanteans or Olympians (Paul Turner)

The first of the new Enviro 200s has been inspected by BTS this week, with delivery of the batch planned for the 2nd and 3rd weeks in May. Assuming they replace all 21 Solos - then they will bring to an end 31 years of Optare bus operation by Blackpool Transport. In that time 165 new Optare buses and 14 second hand ones have been operated.

Recent press coverage has focused on the proposed relocation of the bus fleet from the 1920s bus depot to a new site possibly at Blackpool Airport. This is one of a number of points discussed at a recent council meeting (reports linked here). Of interest is a trial of park and ride- though this is understood to be an illuminations period one form Squires Gate - as tried a few years ago.

Three redundant buses have left the fleet. Solo 255 has passed to a local buyer for parts then scrap, while Trident 338 and fire damaged DAF 366 have gone for scrap to Parton's of Barnsley - 338 on 3 April and 366 on 10th.

Friday 30 March 2018

Road Works Road Works Road Works

Tuesday 3rd April sees another change in the location of the tram extension enabling roadworks presently afflicting Blackpool town centre. This removes access to Clifton Street, and also blocks Corporation Street. Flow through St John's Square will be reversed. Buses 2, 2C, 18 and 19 will now run through St John's Square to terminate at Abingdon Street (rather than Topping Street) then return via Talbot Road and as present. The 5, 6 and 7 northbound will now pick up on the Promenade (at West Street) rather than Clifton Street.

This should last until 9 May when Clifton Street reopens, but Corporation Street will remain closed until 2 July. Cookson Street will be closed from Cookson Street to George Street and also Caunce Street will be closed between King Street and Cookson Street from 9 May to 1 June. This should have little impact on services.

However Market Street will be closed between Talbot Road and West Street from 22nd May to 2 June - this will prevent the 5, 6 and 7 from accessing Market Street - but presumably terminating 11, 17 and 68 will be able to turn via Church St, Corporation Street and West Street.

Finally - at least for now - Talbot Road is to be closed between the Stand and Abingdon Street from 21 May until August. Assuming Clifton Street is accessible this suggests northbound buses will use Clifton St/Abingdon Street and Southbound ones Springfield Road as present. 

Enviro 200s

The new Enviro 200s will be similar to demonstrator YX17NXA used in May 2017. It is seen here on service 4 at Mereside (Brian Turner)
Blackpool Transport has confirmed the planned arrival of 18 new Enviro 200s in May. These are to replace the remaining 21 Optare Solos and will mainly operate on services 3 and 4. These will complement the 55 Enviro 400 double deckers recently added to the fleet. This is significantly earlier than the October date planned last summer when the fleet plan was presented to Blackpool Council. It is understood that the 4 Enviros planned for delivery in March 2018 are no longer required and that 103 vehicles are to be purchased from 2016-2020 rather than 107 as previously reported. A further 30 vehicles are expected in 2019/2020 to replace the remaining Dennis Tridents.

Beach Bus 26

Saturday 5th May will see the start of 'Beach Bus 26' a new service provided by Catch 22 Bus from Marton Mere Caravan Park. Marton Mere had understood that a daily service would operate into Blackpool this summer, despite the withdrawal of services 15/16 and advertised this accordingly in their 2018 marketing. However with BTS only providing a weekend and local school holiday service on the 20, other operators were approached to see if they could fill the gap. Two operators submitted proposals and that of Catch 22 Bus was accepted. 

Beach Bus 26 will run hourly from Saturday 5 May until the end of the Illuminations. It will be a limited stop service from Marton Mere to Blackpool Tower, then all stops along the Promenade to Pleasure Beach, then back to Marton Mere via Yeadon Way in a one way loop. An evening service will be provided during the summer school holidays and on Illuminations Saturdays. Dennis Trident 833 is to be the dedicated bus.

thanks to Catch 22 Bus for the above background information.

Catch 22 Darts 186 (X186CTG) and 386 (Y386GAX) have left the fleet for scrap. This completes the disposal of the MPD Darts, except for 147 (T147DAX) which its retained as a towing bus. Ex First B6 813 (W813PFB) has also left. 

The associated Manchester Sightseeing Tours is expanding with new tours in Birmingham and Leeds during 2018. Two more open toppers Dennis Trident V168MEV has joined the fleet from Golden Tours and Volvo Olympian P534EFL has joined from Stagecoach North West. The 'Sightseeing Manchester' tour has been using three Dennis Tridents V362OWC and V158MEV (both ex Golden Tours) and W501RBB (ex Yorkshire Tiger). 501 put an unexpected appearance on Catch 22 service 21 on 27 February as an emergency cover for a failed bus.