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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman


Riders on Service 5 today got an especial treat ! Blackpool Transport's fleet of new

Mercedes Citaro buses inaugurated the next era in local transport by taking over Service 5 connecting Victoria Hospital and Layton with Halfway House. The contrast in quality of service could not be starker for riders accustomed to the compact and well used Optare Solo vehicles.

Number 558 took my wife and myself for an extended journey to the modernistic Victoria Hospital (bus station) terminus - and back through the town centre to Royal Oak. Air pressured tilting mechanisms allows the driver to quickly lower the entry step level (with automatic return on closure of the entrance doors). Spacious

interiors are well fitted with a continuous overhead grab rail and numerous grab

stanchions ensuring safe movement through the bus to and from the rear. A surprisingly quiet interior, far quieter in fact than the Bombardier trams,

and the even smoother ride throughout was an enlightening experience.

We received plenty of turned heads as 558 travelled into town. The eye-catching livery with echoes of Hull's old municipal blue and white buses - is a big big improvement on the stark yellow and black branding of recent years.

There was a shock seeing the BTS logo emblazoned under the Mercedes Benz traditional roundel on the front. Once upon a time it would have been a Leyland Motors nameplate (at least for people of a certain age!) Images taken on the inaugural day of service by John Woodman

Welcome Aboard. Our Chauffered Mercedes is ready to depart from Victoria Hospital; a route patronised by all ages and of high importance in providing comfort and passenger space. Below : the modernistic background to the Hospital's 'Bus Station' sets the tone for Number 558 on its first day in public service. Well done Blackpool Transport - more of the same in coming years?

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