A slightly different sight on Fleetwood's Lord Street and again at the Windmill en route to Layton. Inaugural operation of the ADL fleet on Service 14.
Sunday 24th July saw the first day of service of the ten strong tranche of ADL buses (401 - 410) in Blackpool. Destined to operate the 9 Service through the week and Saturdays - on Sunday, at least initially, the double deck design was allocated to the 14 Service while the 9 Service featured Citaros.
I trialled the new ADL model therefore on a winding back route to Fleetwood via Carleton and Thornton relatively light loadings all the way albeit late afternoon. The bus had a surprising fast and quiet acceleration from stops and the top deck seating allowed ample leg room. The rear bench forward facing seating was enveloped in a translucent rear dome giving off a tour bus flavor for passengers occupying those seats (this probably will be popular with students and the young generation).
A highly refined interior on the ADL fleet - far too grand for Blackpool possibly ?
Unlike the 'Borismaster' design the top deck windows are deep and give excellent viewing with bright interior lighting strips on in daylight and nightime operation. I returned to Blackpool from Fleetwood by tram with their less than comfortable seats - more or less one step up from wooden seating plus thin pad : whereas the ADL vehicle has highly attractive seats in simulated grey brown leather finish. The front dome of the bus runs down slightly to provide shade against sunlight for front facing passengers, as opposed to the direct glare of the East Lancs (et al) Trident design. Having travelled back to the town centre by tram I then opted to catch the next 14 and ADL to Layton with a driver coming on shift to takeover one of the new buses for the very first time. This time I sat downstairs to gain a complimenting launch experience. The height of the seating over the rear wheel arch is quite noticeable and requires some dexterity to get on and off. The electronic stop bell can be annoying as it is on a continuing cycle, whereas those on the trams take just one ring to signal the next stop and then fall silent. The audio announcements were unacceptably loud, especially as the speaker units generously spread out overhead, are all directly above seats. At least on the new buses the announcements of stops are made without incessant repetitive statements on where your (tram) is heading complete with dumbed down request to passengers to press the bell if they want to get off at the next stop. This must be especially irritating over any lengthy tram ride and must drive the conducting tram crews somewhat crazy on each shift - never mind the passengers. If it is not necessary to invite bus passengers to press the bell if they want to get off at the next stop; why do people travelling on Blackpool trams need this ever continuous reminder?
Changing Drivers on Corporation Street first day of duty for 410. The lighting fixtures somehow complement the styling of the new buses. All futuristic.
The bus in its Palladium branding certainly drew stares along the route and some favorable comments from passengers. It certainly contrasted with the same journey I made on the 14 Service to Freeport on a Volvo Olympian on its final day of operation (see previous blog). The ADL vehicles will inaugurate Service 9 on 25 July 2016 - launching a new era for Blackpool Transport.
PS : Valedictory run of an earlier generation of smart new BTS double deck buses seen here at Fleetwood Freeport on 23 July - Volvo Olympian 375 bows out.
All images Copyright : John Woodman