Blackpool Transport's bosses decided the town's bus services needed a revamp in time for the summer season. On 28 June various revisions will be put into effect. Perhaps importantly the Promenade service 1 which offers an alternative to the trams on which the NoW Cards cannot be used by non Blackpool holders - will have its frequency improved and a slightly longer running time. The queues which build up along the promenade from nine and ten in the morning at stops serving hotels and B&Bs - tend to involve long boarding times and the lower decks of the double deck vehicles quickly fill up to capacity. The desire of NoW card holders to avoid having to pay fares on the trams is understandable and has a silver lining inasmuch as it frees up space on the 'Flexities' at peak times for residents and families in both directions. If and when the rules are changed to allow non-resident NoW Card holders to travel free on Blackpool's trams, this may well require further running capacity during the main visitor season and Bank Holiday weekends. A chance for the modified 'Balloons' to be finally put to work on a sustained summer season basis as 'Extras' perhaps?
Two new circular bus routes begin operation (12/13 and 15/16). These half hourly services up to 6 pm link up the important Victoria Hospital destination with Poulton, Bispham, Staining and Grange Park - plus Blackpool Town Centre on the 12 and 13 runs. The circulars manage to service a diversity of health, education and social venues to the north of the town centre.
Less extensive but no less important are the 15/16 circulars which similarly have important stops at Victoria Hospital as well as connecting with Blackpool Zoo, the Model Village and Stanley Park. The journeys provide links to the Solaris and Pleasure Beach, and the National Savings Centre on Preston New Road along with the new disability centre in the most eastern edge of the Local Authority.
The last time Blackpool operated circular bus routes was in 1936 when the Layton and Central Drive tram services were replaced by new streamline double deck Leyland Titans. The practise did not find favour and the services were discarded to be replaced by routes running traversing the former tramways - terminating in the town centre (and out again). We shall see what happens eighty years later !
Existing Bus Service 10 has its hourly operation extended to St Annes Square joining Service 17 to the same destination, both from the Town Centre via Midgeland Road and Common Edge Road respectively. A souvenir of an earlier hourly service to the 'wilds' of Midgeland Road - below: A 1958 Leyland PD2 with its driver poses at the terminus of the 23 taking passengers as far as Victoria Hospital via the town centre and Layton. Photo : John Woodman Archive