Photo : Courtesy Tony Armitage
Blackpool's first Trident deliveries were in 2002 branded for the then 'green' 'Line 14 as it was in the MetroCoastline era. Number 303 was further rebranded into the current BTS yellow and black with a 'swirl' style under the last MD - Trevor Roberts - who did away with the buses of many colours (and a few trams) which he inherited in 2009.
Recently Trident 303 has been 'relegated' to driver training with instructor's seat installed in the former passenger front entrance - and additional driving mirrors fitted to the near and offside. Modest 'L' signs are affixed to the front but 303 remains more or less in its as withdrawn condition, complete with advertising. It has additionally gained a new fleet number to register its new role (973).
303/973 is the latest in successive generations of Trainee Buses operating along Blackpool roads and no doubt following more or less the same challenging circuits which bedevilled driver hopefuls through the years. Former Titan TD5 Number 25 was the first permanent Driving Training double deck bus in the mid 1950s. It was distinctive as it retained its wartime dark green roof, in addition to bold lettering in the destination apertures to warn both pedestrians and other road users of the especial task it was carrying out. Usually the bus was a familiar sight in Bispham negotiating Devonshire Road and Warbreck Hill Road, as well as Benson Road and the approach to the former Windmill hotel. These locales boast the only significant inclines in an otherwise level Fylde coastline, other than railway bridges.
Below : A later version of the Driver Training Bus (there were two former Atlanteans assigned for this purpose). Former Fleet Number 323 is on a break parked at the Fleetwood Ferry bus (and tram) stop. Its top deck glazing panelled over and prominent 'come hither train with us and drive this bus' messages on both sides to tempt the unwary perhaps? These were followed by two Deltas which may (or may not?) still be on the BTS books.
Photo : John Woodman