From an initial service running during the summer season along much of Blackpool's promenade with a diverse menage of buses - the Catch22Bus company has certainly spread its wings in the past year. The fleet remains eclectic and provides pleasant surprises for the travelling public as well as bus enthusiasts. Blackpool Corporation, Lytham St Annes Corporation, Ribble, Cardiff Bus and London Transport fleet colours can appear at any moment at a stop near you.
The number of routes covered by Catch22Bus seem to be increasing exponentially with the more recent launch of new services in the north Fylde replacing several given up by Stagecoach in April when Lancashire County Council subsidies were withdrawn.
The multiplicity of Catch22Bus services is evident at Cleveleys Bus Station with new routes 23 and 24 adding to the existing 22 which runs south via Bispham to Blackpool. This brings back memories of my younger days when the 22 and 9 were always associated with Blackpool Corporation services heading along Bispham Road. Now the 9 and 22 have returned but with two different operators - but the centre door Burlingham buses which I once enjoyed on are of course long gone.
Whilst the company struggles to maintain its own corporate identity given the diversity of fleet liveries on its buses - the colour scheme of the Cardiff area operator is being adopted lately. This contrasts with the yellow and black of BTS and its new grey and lime upgrade appearing on all new vehicles, and repaints of others. It may prove futile to rebrand every Catch22Bus with Cardiff colours - and in any case would take away the variety of shades and tones which are now a welcome feature in Blackpool, Cleveleys, Thornton and Fleetwood. The new version of Cardiff Bus livery as applied in Blackpool is evident on the Catch22bus vehicles seen in Cleveleys this week.
Even more intriguing for hardened Fylde residents are the dual language notices inside the former Cardiff vehicles which have been retained by Catch22. Visitors from Wales will be duly impressed at this apparent Celtic fringe on the Fylde coast.