Tuesday 24 December 2019

Surprise E400 disposal

Heritage green and cream Trident 332 and pioneer Enviro 400 number 401 are posed in Rigby Road yard before departure to new owners (Mark Penney)
Proving the odd surprise is still possible, Environs 401 and 402 have been withdrawn, with 401 leaving for Warrington's Own Buses yesterday and 402 expected to follow. BTS has been working towards a 5 year maximum fleet age but these disposals at less than four years old was unexpected. According to bustimes.org they last ran on 18th and 12th Dec resp.

Trident disposals have resumed, also unexpectedly picking up with the newest. 331 and 332 left on Friday for Lodge of High Easter in Essex. Sisters 328/330 are expected to follow. Both 331/2 last ran on 11th Dec.

Sunday 8 December 2019

50 Years of the Blackpool Swifts

On Monday 8th December 1969 at 0516 the first AEC Swift operated journey left Cleveleys Bus Station on route 25A. This, and the 7C, was the first conversion of a service to One Man Operation (as it was then known) - a process which lasted until the 14 was converted in 2000. Other than a the use of a Leyland Tigers on route 6C and later the 18, this was the first mass OMO bus operation by Blackpool Corporation since the early days of bus services. 

The 25A ran from Cleveleys Bus Station to Tower via Little Bispham Norbreck, Bispham, Promenade and Dickson Road every 30 minutes and used two buses with a third at peak times. The 7C ran from Talbot Road Bus Station to Cleveleys Bus Station via Gynn, Warbreck Drive, Bispham, Ingthorpe Estate, Luton Road and Anchorsholme Lane. This also used two buses.

The Swift story has been told before on this blog but is repeated below to mark the anniversary. 

Front and Back - first series Swifts pass at Abingdon Street corner. 548 shows how these buses originally had vents below the windscreen. (Brian Turner)

Blackpool had standardised on Leyland Titans from 1932 to 1968 and by summer 1969 had a relatively homogeneous fleet - 50 PD2s and 90 PD3s, all but five with Metro Cammell bodywork. The last of streamlined centre loader buses were retired earlier in 1969. One Man operation had not been practised since 1964 when the solitary OMO service 18 and the two specially converted buses had been withdrawn.

Traditionally new buses went on the busiest routes, but with economies needed Blackpool followed the industry route of replacing short crew buses seating 63 with long wheelbase single deckers seating 47 with standing room making up the total capacity. The buses could, of course, be worked with a driver only and this achieved economies and saw the unusual practise of the newest buses on the quietest routes.

Blackpool first inspected a Leeds Corporation Swift in January 1967. It chose to order 15 AEC Swift chassis with bodies by Marshall of Cambridge. This was not the departure from Leyland stable that it may have seemed as Leyland by then owned AEC and the Swift shared a common chassis frame with Leyland's Panther. That said it was something of a departure for the conservative operator. The new buses became 541-555 (PFR541-555H) and the first to arrive was 544 which featured in official publicity and was licensed on 20 October 1969. 545 was licensed on 3 November so its likely that these two were used for driver training. 541-3/6-8 were licensed on 1 December. They entered service on Monday 8 December operating service 7C and 25A between Blackpool and Cleveleys that required four buses between them. Service 9 (Blackpool to College) soon followed taking the requirement up to six buses with 549 licensed from 15 January.

Swifts had short lives by Blackpool standards with most withdrawn at between 10 and 14 years. 546 is in its last year seen here on service 11C which used Swifts on Sundays. (Brian Turner)
The final seven did not arrive until the spring with 550/1/3/5 licensed on 2 April, 554 on 8 April and 552 on 5 May. On 4 May routes 7 and 7A were converted to OMO operating taking the weekday requirement to ten out of the fifteen buses. On a Sunday Swifts could also be seen on route 1 to Poulton - but the Sunday service came to an end later in the year.

Further Swifts were ordered for the 1971/2 programme. AEC quoted £4,150 per bus and Marshall £4,472 for the bodies. Delivery charges were £20 from AEC and £31 from Marshalls. Deliveries started in September with 558/9 licensed on 17th and 557/60 on 21st. 562 followed on 4 October, 556/61/5 on 6 October and 563/4 on 4 November. No further bus routes were converted until 20 December when routes 6A/B (Grange Park to Midgeland Road using two buses), 15A (Bispham to Hospital with five buses) and 16 (Town Centre to Wordsworth Avenue with 4 buses) were converted. 
The second and third batches had higher driving positions and different windscreens compared to 541 to 555. 556 was the first of the 1971 batch of ten seen here in April 1980 on route 12 (Brian Turner)
On Sundays Swift operation also extended to the 11C from December 1971, 6 during 1972, 5 and 23 from February 1973. During 1971 it was decided to replace the remaining PD2s with a batch of 30 further single deckers in 1973/4, though delivery delays meant that the buses did not appear until March 1974! The results of the tendering exercise were interesting:
  • 1st Seddon RU - £10, 845
  • 2nd AEC/Marshall - £11, 038  (28% higher than 556-565!)
  • 3rd Leyland National - £11, 510.50 
  • 4th AEC/Willowbrook - £12, 147
  • 5th Metro Scania - £12, 774.05 
Note how the AEC/Marshall combination was not the cheapest. It was felt that the Seddon’s floor layout was not to Blackpool’s liking and the fact that 25 Swifts were already owned meant that AEC were awarded the contract as the maintenance savings from standardisation offset the extra purchase cost. The flagship Leyland National and Metro Scania were deemed “not to Blackpool’s specification in numerous ways”. 

566-579 were registered ready for 1st April 1974, 580-586 for May 587-589 in July and 590-595 in August. 6 May 1974 saw routes 2 (Blackpool to Poulton), 15 (Blackpool to Staining) and 12 (Blackpool to Airport) converted. Routes 3 (North Shore to Marton) and 26 (Town Centre  to South Pier) followed on 3 March 1975. 45 out of 55 Swifts were required for the basic service on routes 1, 2, 3/3A, 6B, 7/7A, 7B/7C, 9, 12, 15, 15A, 16, 25A and 26.
Route 25A was one of the first routes to use Swifts. Here 569 complete with original dash vent and Blackpool's added slip board holder. It is seen here on Dickson Road heading against the current one way flow of traffic in 1979 (Brian Turner)
Service reductions during the 1970s saw the vehicle requirement reduce and new Atlanteans took over duties on the 7/7A and 9. Swifts were then used to convert routes 19 South Pier to Mereside (Feb 1976) and 23/23A (Hospital to South Pier and Midgeland Road) to OPO. 

By 1983 the 29 surviving Swifts (and the four Lancets) provided routes:
  • 2/2A (Blackpool to Poulton) 3 buses
  • 3/3A (Cleveleys to Mereside/Midgeland Road) 4 buses which incorporated the 6B and 25A
  • 8 (Blackpool to Whiteholme) 1 bus
  • 16 (Blackpool to Wordsworth Avenue) 3 buses
  • 19 (South Pier to Mereside) 1 bus
  • 23/23A (Hospital to South Pier/Midgeland Road) 6 buses
  • 26 (Town Centre to South Pier) 5 buses
  • Plus Sunday services 5, 6 and 16B.
The 56th Swift
Blackpool owned a 56th Swift from September 1977 in the form of ex Southampton City Transport 2 (MTR420F) with Stachans body which was purchased for spares and spent three years in Rigby Road yard being cannibalised before sale for scrap in July 1980.

Swift Liveries
The Swifts were new in all-over cream with just the wheels in green. This was distinctive but stark. A handful of buses received the later off-white shades from 1977/8 but in early 1979 581 and 582 were outshopped with green roofs following the introduction of Leyland Atlanteans in green/off white. 558 and 559 followed with a green waistband and this was adopted as the new livery. 581/2 were modified to match during 1981.

The first and last of of the 1969/70 batch 541 - in original livery and 555 in the later livery on withdrawal in 1981 (Brian Turner)
All but 12 Swifts received the new livery - early withdrawals 541-7/50/1/3, 561 and 563 being the exceptions. The programme took four years to complete with 562 and then 588 as the last two to be treated. There is some suggestion that 574 and 575 received further repaints in February 1987 but this is not confirmed. The only other Swift repaint was 577 which received an all-over advert to Latusport Shop in July 1984.  

Swift withdrawals
Withdrawals of the Swifts began, surprisingly, with 561 which was parked up in early 1980 after just over eight years use while sister 558 was also parked up with accident damage. Routine withdrawals began, not surprisingly, with the initial batch. 544/5 were delicensed in August 1980 followed by 541-3/7 and 555 in March/April 1981. 552 declared its self redundant on 31 May 1981 while working service 11C when it collided with trees on Regent Road, while youthful 578 at just seven years and six months did likewise due to a collision with the depot doors on 20 September.
Accidents happen. Two 1981 withdrawals were unplanned. 552 on the right collided with trees on Regent Road while 578 hit the depot doors and was withdrawn before its eight birthday (Brian Turner)
551 - and newer sister 563 were withdrawn in September 1981, 546 came off in December. This left 548-550, 553 and 554 in use during 1982. 549/50 survived until July/August, 553/4 September/October and 548 survived as the last of its batch until April 1983. Four new Dennis Lancets in 1982, new Atlanteans purchased annually and the impact of service reductions saw off the Swifts.

In addition to 548, 1983 dawned with seven of the 1971 batch intact (556/7/9, 560/2/4/5). Inroads were soon made with 557/9/64 off by May and 562 by August along with 567/8 - the first of the final batch to succumb. Withdrawals then slowed with only 566 (of 1974) off in March 1984; 560 (of 1971) in May 1984 and 556 (of 1971) in January 1985. 
Swifts repose in Rigby Road Depot in February 1986 - most of these survived after deregulation (Brian Turner)
As at January 1986 565 of 1971 and 25 of the 30 1974 buses remained in use. 581 had been parked up in December 1985. The purchase of four second hand Leyland Nationals and six ex London Routemasters saw off 579/80/2/93 in February 1986 while 565/9/86 followed in March/April.

Deregulation saw new routes for the Swifts which appeared on the 4 (Blackpool-Mereside), 33 (Cleveleys-Marton Hypermarket) and revised services 2A, 15, 23-25 and the barely changed 26. 590 heads for the Hypermarket (now Asda on Vicarage Lane) on route 33 in October 1987. (Donald MacRae see his Victory Guy photo albums for more from his collection)
19 remained in use at deregulation (570-577, 583-585, 587-592 and 595). Buses began to be whittled down with 584 off in November 1986, 592 the following month, 595 in January and 577 in March. 572/91 also reached the end of the road in October 1987. The 11 survivors were to be replaced one for one by a batch of ex Strathclyde Buses Leyland Nationals - which were just five years younger. These entered service between December 1987 and February 1988 and 570/4 came off before the end of the year with 573/6/83 in January leaving 571, 585 and 587-590 into the final month. 571 and 590 are believed to have been the last to run, working route 4 on 29 February with 590 working the final 2300 from Bus Station to Mereside.
574 heads for Bispham on route 15 - normally the preserve of Leyland Nationals as the rota included trips to Preston on routes 180/2 (Donald MacRae see his Victory Guy photo albums for more from his collection)  
Swift Disposals
Disposals of the AEC Swifts generally fell into two categorises - pre deregulation sales direct to dealers for scrap and a post deregulation block sale to Wealden Omnibuses from where several buses went for further service.

36 Swifts were sold between 1981 and 1986 (541-569, 578-582, 586 and 593). Dealing with the exceptions first, 554 went for Preservation and 564/7/8 went to Stonier of Tunstall in 1984 via a dealer but did not operate for the firm. They were eventually sent for scrap. 562 went to Blackpool Airport in 1984 for use as part of fire brigade training exercises and was finally destroyed in 1997. 565 went to Lancashire Police for use as an exhibition unit but was out of use by 1989.  The remainder generally went to dealers for scrap. 

Leaving home - Swift 574 departs Rigby Road for the long journey to Kent in the ownership of Wealden PSV dealership (Brian Turner)
This left the 19 vehicles that were still in service at deregulation. Progressively withdrawn from service from December 1986 to February 1988 all remained in store at Rigby Road Depot at the start of April 1988. Wealden Omnibuses, a Kent based operator-dealer purchased all 19. It quickly find home for 12 buses -all of which had seen use in the last six months of operation. These were:
  • 570 with Blue Saloon Guildford 5/88 - w/d 8/92.  Preserved by 5/96 (Graham Oliver and later FTT) (570 with Blue Saloon front and rear view)
  • 571 with Weybus of Weymouth 5/88 then to Anglewish (Seaside Shuttle) of Portland in 10/88 w/d 5/89 and to Davies of Bridport as spares for 589 in 9/89 then scrapped 2/90
  • 572/4/6 to Ogdens of St Helens 8/88 (572 briefly loaned to East Surrey Buses before the sale) all w/d summer 1989 and scrapped by end of year
  • 573 Wealdens operating arm and loans to East Surrey, sold c3/90 to Raff of Gravesend then scrapped 8/90
  • 583 Davies of Bridport, later back to Wealden and to Knotty, Staffs in 1993 - burnt out 1996 (583 with Knotty)
  • 585 Bonner, Ongar 5/88 then to Raff Gravesend 12/89 and scrapped 7/90
  • 587 to Inverclyde, Greenock 5/88 then by 9/88 to Cumbrae Coaches, Millport w/d 1/90 and scrapped
  • 588 to Inverclyde, Greenock 5/88 w/d 11/88 and auctioned 5/89 scrapped 9/89 588 with Inverclyde
  • 589 with Weybus of Weymouth 5/88 then to Anglewish (Seaside Shuttle) of Portland in 10/88 to Davies of Bridport 9/89, De Vinci's Nightclub, West Bay 5/90, preserved 1997 but later used for spares for another project  Flickr Picture of 589
  • 590 Wealden hire fleet and loaned to East Surrey Buses. Last licensed 10/88
The rest were not fit for further use and Wealden had several moved to Fylde's Squires Gate depot for storage (Wealden used Fylde as a staging post for buses collected from Scotland). 575, 584, 591/2/4/5 all moved to Fylde - as did 583 briefly while at least 572 of the Ogdens trio called in at Fylde on prior to moving to St Helens. The six were gradually disposed of with 591/4 going in November 1988; 575/92 in February 1989, 584 around August 1989 and 595 around August 1990. 595 did move onto Wealden but the rest went straight for scrap. 
Preserved Swift 570 and AEC Routemaster 521 displayed together at the 2010 Blackpool Transport open day (Paul Turner)
Most of the survivors after deregulation had short second lives with their new owners. Swifts were an acquired taste and required gentle nurturing. Knotty for example swore by them (others perhaps swore at them) but modified 583 to use a Leopard style air pedestal gear change to replace the automatic electric unit specified by Blackpool. Those wanting a cheap ready to run vehicle tended to be disappointed and at least one operator ceased due to maintenance problems. 1991 started with the following survivors:
  • 554 (PFR554H) -with Wealden who purchased it from Graham Oliver and put it back in to bus service but by this time it had been placed in store. It was bought back by Graham in 1995 and passed to LTT in October 1996. It was restored to original cream in 1998 but after several years in store passed to Martin Gurr and Gary Conn in 2014 - it is now back in use after a full repaint and overhaul
  • 562 (UFR562K) - shell at Blackpool Airport scrapped 1997
  • 570 (OFR970M) - Blue Saloon, Guildford w/d 1992 but kept in store until sold in 1995. Preserved by Graham Oliver in 1996 it has since passed to Fylde Transport Trust and it returned to use in 2018
  • 583 (OFR983M) - Davies of Bridport later to Wealden and to Knotty in 1993. Destroyed by fire in late 1996 as last Blackpool Swift in service
  • 589 (OFR989M) - with Da Vinci's nightclub in Bridport, Dorset and for sale in 1995. Later bought by Graham Oliver for preservation but passed to another owner and used as a source of spares for a Birmingham example

Today just 554 and 570 survive. 554 returned to use in 2015 with its new owners while 570 has been prepared for MOT work by LTT.
Privately preserved Swift 554 operating on the free bus service at the 130 years of Blackpool Trams event on 27 September 2015 (Paul Turner)

Friday 6 December 2019


Several surplus vehicles have been sold recently. Solo 287 has gone to Southern Coachlines possibly for spare parts. Sister 288 and 290 have passed to a local dealer, with 290 passing onto Archway, Fleetwood for spares. Trident 302 has gone to Parton's for scrap. Trident 319 is out of service with accident damage, joining Volvo 532 which has been out of use since an accident in the spring.

409 and 410 now have full rears for Bryan House hospice, 410 previously advertising Sarsons. Enviro 200s 218 and 571 were recently decorated with poppies for the Remembrance Day commemoration. Sister 564 is now wrapped as a Christmas bus.

Alexander Dennis/BYD Enviro200EV LJ68CYO has been on loan to Blackpool Transport for evaluation as the company considers options for future electric buses. It has not been used in service.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Winter Times and Diversions

Blackpool Transport times change for the winter on Sunday 3rd November. Most reflect last year's pattern, but there are a few frequency changes:
  • 1 - usual winter 1/2 hourly service
  • 2C - Sunday service reduced to every 90 minutes. This allows extra running time v the current hourly service.
  • 3 and 4 - minor time changes to 3 , both return to 20 minute Saturday service after illuminations period reductions
  • 7 reduced to every 20 minutes (as last winter, but still serves Clifton Hospital)
  • 9 Saturday service every 12 minutes rather than 15 mins
  • 11 Saturday service every 15 minutes rather than 20 mins last winter
  • 14 will continue to run every 10 mins Mon-Fri (v 12 mins last winter). Saturdays remains every 12 mins and Sundays every 20 (30 last year)
  • The 20 ends for the winter.
Not previously reported is the extension of some 2C journeys to Knott End on a Saturday evening. During August some pre-bookable trips ran as a trial before a conventional service started on 31 August. There is an extra trip at 2050 from Blackpool and two trips from Poulton at 2230 and 2330. From Knott End there are trips to Poulton at 2200 and 2300 before a final run through to Blackpool at midnight arriving at 0104! 

From Saturday 19th October, the 14 reverted to its normal route between Castle Gardens and Thornton following the completion of stage 1 of the Norcross roundabout works which saw the 14 run via Poulton. The shuttle bus which ran every 15 minutes from Castle Gardens via Arundel Drive and Fleetwood Road had been diverted to do a double run to the Plant Place Garden Centre just before Norcross from mid September. Alternate buses served the Garden Centre with the others following the original route.

From 2000 on Sunday 20th phase 2 started, closing the northbound exit from the roundabout. The 14 now runs via Amounderness Way and Victoria Road between Norcross and Thornton Four Lane Ends. Catch 22 bus service 24 is similarly diverted with a BTS free shuttle running from 4 Lane Ends to serve Beehwood Drive every 15 minutes.

Also from Friday 18th buses returned to Corporation Street following re-modelling of the bus stops. The 9 and 14 now terminate on Corporation Street again, while the 18 and 19 move from Abingdon Street. The 6 will now stop on Corporation Street northbound and are joined by the 5 and 7 to allow works on Clifton Street. The 14, 18 and 19 stop outside the Town Hall, the others use stops south of West Street, the 7, 5, 9 and 6 North to South.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Blackpool Transport order more Enviros

At today's Coach and Bus Show Blackpool Transport confirmed and order for 15 more Enviro 200s and 4 more 400s taking its fleet to 107 from the manufacturer. 59 are Double Deck E400s, 26 long and 22 short E200s.

Thursday 12 September 2019

More disposals

DAF 360 has rejoined 361/3 at Ashcroft's, replacing burnt out 357. The last DAF to leave was 356 which was towed to Barnsley for scrap today. Volvo B7RLE 524 has passed to David Odgen Travel, St. Helens. 

243, 286/9 are also with Go Southern Coach with DAFs 365/7

Tuesday 10 September 2019


Tridents 305-309 and DAFs 368-72 have passed on mass to Coach Travel Solutions in Blackburn. They left on 30th August and are regularly seen on school services in Blackpool colours.

365/7 have emerged with Go Southern Coach of Newbury. Thanks to Steve Foster for the report - a pic of 367 is on his Flickr site.

Sunday 25 August 2019

Summer Update

A bit of a catch up after a summer break. 

BTS Enviros
The new BTS Enviros settled into service with the longer ones mainly on the 6 and 7 on weekdays and the 6 and 17 on Sundays. The 18 and 19 are normally operated now by the shorter examples alongside the 3 and 4, plus the 2/2C on Sundays.

Also not previously reported, Plaxton Centro bodied Volvo B7RLE 532 has been out of service since it was involved in an RTA earlier this year. It is not known if it is to be repaired.

Former BTS Buses
Recent disposals in the news for contrasting reasons are DAFs 357 and 364. Sadly 357 was destroyed in a fire at Ashcroft's Runcorn depot. 364 has moved from Midland Bus Hire to Cumbria Classic Coaches so the provide a compliant bus on the local service work. It is pictured here. DAF 371, still at Rigby Road, is now carrying a new registration PE02GYZ, its 'cherished' plate is now on a car.

Reading Buses purchased Newbury and District earlier this year, including their six ex Blackpool Solos. These have reverted to their original registrations and are numbered 175-180. 

Two Routemasters, 523 and 525 have been sold to Ensignbus from Tower Transit, having been stored since the end of Heritage Routemaster service 9 in 2014. 523 has since been sold to Dualway in Dublin.

A much earlier disposal, PD3 398 of 1965, has been sighted recently still in Wettern, Belgium, as on this picture of 3 April 2019. It has been there since 1983 along with a handful of other British buses.

Former City Sightseeing Olympian 844 (D244FYM) has been sold for scrap to Partons by Alpine, Llandudno. In recent years it has been a ticket office.

Route Notes
Norcross roundabout is undergoing a major redesign with intial work done overnight, but the first of a series of closures starts on 1st September. The junction south to Carelton will be closed for 7 weeks, with the 14 diverted via Amounderness Way, Breck Road, Poulton and Tithebarn Street to Castle Gardens in both directions. The school 12 will follow the same route to Poulton then onto Baines School. A shuttle bus is to be provided in Carelton. Catch 22 bus 24 will also be diverted.

Illumination timetables will be in place on Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays throughout the lights (31st August to 2 November), plus throughout the October 1/2 term period (20 Oct to 2 Nov). The 5, 6 and 7 are split in the Town Centre during the evenings; the southern routes, plus the 11 and 17 will terminate at New Bonny Street, the northern routes at Talbot Road (Wikinsons).  The 3 and 4 will also be diverted in Bispham in the evenings. During the day the 3, 4, 9 and 11 will run at a lower frequency on Saturdays to allow extra running time (the 3 and 4 every 30 mins, the 9 every 15 and 11 every 20).

Catch 22 Bus
Has ex Cardiff Dart CE02UUP in service in green/blue livery, sister CE02UUZ has also joined the fleet.

Coastal Coaches
Solo YJ65ETL has been wrapped in an all-over advert for BP Insurance. YJ68FYR (Miss Elvi) is a recent addition, acquired in January 2019, second hand YJ62FVT (Master Xander) and YJ62FXK (Master Bobby) are now both in service alongside the 5 2015 examples YJ65ETE/F/K/L/O. 

Preston Bus
The Blackpool outstation closed earlier this year following the loss of several LCC school contracts and the 76/77 minibus services.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Disposals and a repaint

For the first time this year a Blackpool Trident has been repainted in black and yellow with 315 treated in July after removal of its Pleasure Beach advert. 

DAFs 365, 367 and Solos 243, 286 and 289 have been sold to a new operator in the South of England, 365/7 left yesterday.

The last of the first batch of Tridents 305-9 were withdrawn in July and Auguat. 305 last ran on 24th July, 306 1st Aug, 307 2nd Aug, 308 8th Aug and 309 26th July. This leaves 20 Tridents in use (310-7, 319, 322-32). 

A larger update is planned for the weekend, spare time permitting catching up on various things over the last few weeks.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

New BTS Buses

Brand new 571 on display at St John's Square (Mike Wilson)
Blackpool Transport launched its 15 new buses on Monday 24th June, with new long Enviro 200 571, Short 217 and one of the most recent double deckers, 450, on display in St John's Square. The first of the new buses entered service the day before 563 and 569 were noted on the 17, 562, 568 and 571 were on the 6. 218 to 220 were first noticed on Monday all on the 3 and 4. 561, 562, 566 and 568 were noted on the 7 on Monday with 564, 565, 567 and 570 on the 6. The intention is for all 7 workings on the 6 and 4 on the 7 to use the new long Enviros.

The 15 new buses have replaced 12 buses directly (13 if 301 is counted too) with DAFs 367 and 372 and Volvos 520-4 withdrawn after use on 22nd June. This follows 368-370 withdrawn on 30 May, 371 on 13 June. Trident 302 is also due for withdrawal, but appears to still be in use.

Short 217 on display at St John's Square (Mike Wilson)

New Enviro 219 at Tesco on the 3 and 4 (Mike Wilson)

Penultimate day for 520 on the 7 on Friday (Mike Wilson) 
565 on the 6 at Corporation Street (Mike Wilson)

Citaro 555 put in an appearance on the 6 on Monday (Mike Wilson)

The new buses feature a special Blackpool scene at the back of the bus (Mike Wilson)

Interior features include a phone holder and both wired and wireless charging

Back of the buses (Mike Wilson)

Cutting the ribbon (Mike Wilson)

Thursday 30 May 2019

BTS fleet update

The final new Enviro 200 has arrived with 564 completing the deliveries today. They are due in service on 23rd June with a launch event the following day.  The long buses are for the 6 cascading double deckers to ensure the 7 is to Palladium spec. The short examples seem likely to work the 18 and 19.

Some withdrawals have already taken place. DAFs 368, 369 and 370 were taken out of service today. The other DAFs (367/71/2), Trident 302 and Volvos 520-4 are also earmarked for withdrawal. 

Monday 27 May 2019

Summer Services

Blackpool Transport are starting their summer timetables on 23 June. 

The most surprising change is the extension of the 7 to Clifton Hospital! This presumably addresses feedback from the breaking of the link across St. Anne's in November. It does mean that with the 17 there are six buses per hour now from St. Anne's south. It may well have been more logical to reinstate the route to Lytham at the expense of the 17. The 7 turns via St Paul's Avenue, Promenade and King Edward Avenue.

The 2C diversion via Wyre Health Centre in Knott End is discontinued, but a Sunday daytime service to Knott End is started.

The 1 becomes every 20 minutes on Monday to Friday, 7 every 15 and 14 every ten minutes. Minor changes to the 6 and 11 are included, while the 18 is retimed. 

Saturday 11 May 2019

New ADL 200s

561, YX19OPA is the first of 11 new 43 seat Enviro 200s to arrive, it was first noted on Tuesday. Four shorter examples are also due. We understand numbers and registrations are:

  • 217 YX19OOU
  • 218 YX19OOV
  • 219 YX19OOW
  • 220 YX19OOY
  • 561 YX19OPA
  • 562 YX19OPB
  • 563 YX19OPC
  • 564 YX19OPD
  • 565 YX19OPE
  • 566 YX19OPF
  • 567 YX19OPG
  • 568 YX19OPH
  • 569 YX19OPJ
  • 570 YX19OPK
  • 571 YX19OPL
It is expected that these will mostly replace Volvos 520-533 and possibly some Trident or DAF DDs.

Recently withdrawn 301 left last Saturday heading to join 340 with One Agency Media as an advertising bus. 

A local MP has recently announced that Blackpool Transport will be extending service 2C to Knott End on a Sunday on an hourly basis from 23 June. The 1, 3, 6, 11, 14 and 18 are also changing on the same date. Some recent minor changes not previously picked up comprise:
  • 2C a duplicate journey Monday to Friday at 0725 Blackpool to Knott End, five minutes behind the 0720 trip on school days.
  • 3 during March a DD worked an extra trip c0750 Mereside to Blackpool and Fylde College - but this appears to have ceased again.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

April News

Blackpool Transport is expected to start delivery of new Alexander Dennis Enviro 200s soon and it seems to be 12 full length and 3 short examples. 

Withdrawn Solos 240, 241, 244-6 left today to join sisters 242, 247 and 248 with CT4N Nottingham. Trident 301 was withdrawn on 12th April and is believed to be joining former 340 as a static promotional bus. Trident 329 has received an updated advert for Heart FM.

Seasonal service 20 has resumed from 6th April running weekends and school holidays until November.

Catch 22 has resumed Beach Bus 26 daily from 16 March. Double deckers seem the usual allocation with Y401NHK common.

Former Fylde Atlantean 67, latterly Blackpool 467 and new as GMPTE 7673 (ONF673R) has left its home of 19 years, Pilot Boat in Anglesey having passed to a preservationist for spares. Following removal of its engine it is shortly to be dismantled.

Saturday 2 March 2019

News Update

Blackpool Promenade reopened at Talbot Square on 1 March after an extended closure with BTS service 1 and Catch 22 Bus service 21 reverting to their regular routes, the 1 running through to Starr Gate once more.

Services 5, 6 and 7 returned to using Market Street, ending the diversion via Coronation St. Northbound buses continue to stop at Clifton St (5/7) and Corporation St (6). 

On Sunday 3rd, the 3 and 4 will revert to using Dickson Road (stop at Funny Girls) rather than serving Queen Street, and the 9 and 14 will move to a new terminus at Corporation Street - both used Clifton Street prior to the tram works starting.

It appears the, 2, 2C, 18 and 19 will be continuing to use St John's Square to access Abingdon St rather than the lengthier run via Topping St, Deansgate, Cookson St, Talbot Road and Clifton St that they used prior to the tram works starting.

Roadworks in Bispham ended on 22nd February allowing the 3, 9 and school service 12 to revert to normal. 

Demonstrator and BTS Fleet
Blackpool Transport has been using a hybrid Mercedes Citaro demonstrator on service 5 during the last two weeks of February. Registered BF68ZHB photos can be found on Alan Robson's blog.

It is understood Trident 340 was sold for use for promotional work in January. Former BTS 362 has now been broken up after suffering accident damage on its way to Dekkabus last year. Enviro 400 439 now has a full rear advert for 'Big Little Moments' for Blackpool Better Start.

Beach Bus is Back
Sunday 16th March sees Catch 22 restart 'Beach Bus' service 26 from Marton Mere to Blackpool. The service runs 0930 to 1730 daily until 3 November with extended hours until 2130 from Marton Mere Tuesdays-Saturdays in July/August and the last two weeks of October, plus Sautrdays in Sept/October and the Saturday/Sunday of Easter Weekend.

Former BTS Trident 353 (E20BTS) has recently joined the Sightseeing Buses fleet affiliated to Catch 22 Bus for open top conversion. This was recently with The Busman, Holmes Chapel. Busman has acquired former BTS Excel 225 from preservation and repainted it in a black and yellow livery in the layout used by Reading Buses on its Excels. It is a regular on rail replacement in the North West.

Coastal Coaches
Coastal has commenced its new tendered services 76, 77 and 77A taken over from Preston Bus. It needs 4 Solos for this, the reduced 78 now needs 2, so it has expanded its Solo fleet from 5 to 7 with the purchase of YJ62FVT and YJ62FXK which were new to Quality Line in London to dual door layout. Both are now single door and in Coastal livery.

Thursday 31 January 2019

Coastal Changes

Coastal Coaches Solo "Miss Lucy" leaves Lytham Square for St. Annes on service 78 - 2nd January 2019 (Brian Turner)

Coastal Coaches has recently been awarded contracts for services 76 (Lytham to Blackpool), 77 (Preston to Blackpool) and 77A (Preston to Myrescough). These are presently provided by Preston Bus on behalf of Lancashire County Council. Preston bus recently surrendered the contracts and Coastal have won the resulting tender. Four buses are required and the routes transfer on 18th February. On the same date their commercial 78 is reduced from half hourly to hourly.

At the same time Preston Bus will change the 75, again this has been retendered but this time they have retained the contract. Instead of linking to service 29 in Preston, it will now link to a new service 15 from Preston to Longsands. In Fleetwood the 75 will no longer service the Windward Avenue housing estate but will run via Denham Way and Copse Road instead.

Blackpool Transport made two minor service changes on 27th January. The 7 route in St. Annes has changed. Instead of turning via Beach Road, Promenade and St. Annes Road West it now serves the 17 stop on Clifton Drive South then turns via Links Road, South Promenade and St. Annes Road West. The 2C is revised to only serve the Over Wyre Health Centre during open hours, with buses running between 0750 and 1720 still using Pilling Avenue and Grasmere Road. At other times the service reverts to using Lancaster Road.

A significant diversion to the 3 and 9 commenced on 10th December. Neither can serve Bispham Village due to roadworks so run via Ashfield Road and Bristol Avenue (ironically the traditional pre 1992 route of the 9) to Moor Park Pool, with the 9 carrying on as normal and the 3 turning back to Bispham Library via Bispham Road.

Single Deckers in 2019?

The Enviro 200s seem likely to be joined by three more this year. They are now reaching Lytham, mainly on Sundays when they work the recently extended service 17. Here 227 approaches Lytham Square from Saltcotes on 30th December (Brian Turner)

Back in September 2017 I reported on the Blackpool Transport fleet plan which involved replacing the remaining double deckers and minibuses with 72 new buses, comprising 18 midibuses and 54 double deckers. So far the first 20 double deckers has arrived as 436 to 455 followed by the 18 midibuses as 221-228 last year.

By 2020 the BTS fleet would have comprised 126 buses - 89 double deckers, the 18 midibuses, 10 Citaros and 9 refurbished Volvo B7RLEs. This was to cover the peak vehicle requirement of 107 buses and was a reduction from the then total of 132.

Since the further service reductions have taken place, with the 2018 summer PVR calculated as 97, which reduced to 88 in the November service changes for the winter period. Clearly 126 vehicles would now be too many and a batch of four double deckers planned for last spring was dropped. Recently a document was published as part of evidence to parliament's review into the health of the bus industry. This included a graph of BTS's planned fleet in 2019 which would comprise:
  • 15 new single deckers delivered in 2019
  • 3 more midibuses to be delivered in 2019
  • the 18 Enviro 200s of 2018
  • the 55 Enviro 400s of 2016/7
  • the 10 Citaros of 2015
  • 13 older double deckers - probably 319 and 322-332 and one more.
This makes 114 vehicles and removes the 9 2010 B7RLEs from the plan, as well as the older Wright bodied Volvos and Tridents.