I have been reminded of the imminent withdrawal from service of the remaining examples of Optare Excel buses that have been a familiar part of Blackpool Transport's fleet since 1999 (albeit in different liveries and guises). Assigned fleet numbers 201 to 226 the initial deliveries were beset with problems and the manufacturer provided replacements for eight vehicles.
More familiar in the purple and yellow Line 7 'Metro Coastlines' colours - these larger capacity single deck buses have operated on most of the company's services during their nearly seventeen years at Rigby Road. Now only two examples have been kept on the road (216 and 224) and their imminent withdrawal is forecast. Repainted in the BTS yellow and black (with a silver sweep) the buses still look very smart and well maintained despite their age. The above image of 224 in Clifton Street on Service 7 was taken Friday December 18th by Tony Armitage - a keen observer of Blackpool's transport scene.
It is doubtful there will be any public attention given to the demise of the Excels but it is worth recording for the bus enthusiast fraternity who tend to take notice of such developments. Top Images : Tony Armitage. The Excels were probably more familiarly known for their Metro Coastlines Line 7 branding which ran to Lytham in very distinctive colours seen below. Image : John Woodman