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.

Monday 26 March 2018

March Round Up

Rail Replacement
Network Rail missed the 26th March deadline for reopening the Blackpool North line and this is now delayed until 16th April. BTS are continuing to provide rail replacement duties. They are also providing buses for weekend rail replacement between Wigan and Manchester.

New Driver Trainer
Withdrawn Dennis Trident 339 has been repainted into grey recently and is understood to be joining sister buses 973/4 (ex 303/4) as driver trainers. It seems likely that DAF 971 would be replaced, indeed it is already on 'SORN'.

Sold Tridents
The four Tridents sold to Reading Buses, 349 to 352 have been re-registered X399/393/401/398XBV resp ex E16 to E19BTS. They are numbered 534, 532, 535 and 532 resp in the Reading fleet. 532, ex 350, is seen in this flickr photo.

Blackpool Transport Bank Holiday Services
Unusually Blackpool Transport has advertised special bank holiday timetables for some of its services, rather than the usual Sunday service. 2, 3, 4, 5, 17, 18, 19 and 20 will run on their Sunday service, with special timetables on the 1, 2C, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 14. The 2C will extend to Knott End as it did last year on Bank Holidays, the 1, 6, 7 and 9 will run every 20 minutes instead of every 30 minutes, the 11 and 14 will retain their Sunday frequencies (30 and 20 mins resp) but at different times. Unusually this means the 1 has a higher frequency on bank holidays than for the rest of the spring period. It runs every 30 minutes on a daily basis otherwise.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Back on Squires Gate Bridge

The rebuilt Squires Gate Bridge is reopening early this evening and Blackpool Transport will be re-routing the 7, 11 and 18 on Saturday - eight days early. This means they will operate to their current timetables, but their revised route in the interim. This will lead to some hanging around - as the 7 gets 23 minutes from St. Annes to Halfway House v 10 on the new timetable!  

Sunday 4 March 2018

Olympian and Tiger catch up

Former Blackpool 401 in Nottinghamshire under restoration to original condition as Trent 701 (Mark Scott)
The sole survivor of the 10 ex Trent Olympians, 401, is now under restoration back in its native Nottinghamshire. It ran with Blackpool from 1997 to 2010 before passing to Catch 22 Bus in early 2012. It was sold on from them to its
current owner in 2015. Thanks to Jono Niblock for tracking this one down!

Confirmation has also been received that one of 5 new to Shearings Plaxton bodied Tigers acquired from Fylde with the Seagull Coaches business survives. 23 (F703ENE) was the first of the five to be withdrawn in 1998, replaced by the shortlived new Javelin 27 (R927TFR). 23 was exported to Ireland (as was the Javelin a year later!) but returned to Wealden - the Kent based dealer in 2001. It remains in their hands 17 years later as seen in this 2016 picture.