BTS Managing Director Jane Cole before the camera at the launch of the company's first tranche of new double deck buses fresh from Alexander Dennis factory in Falkirk. Below - ADL demonstrator on test in Blackpool as a prelude to possible replacement vehicles.
The town's bus company - Council Owned - deserves thanks for the reliable operation of both buses and the tram service through 2016. Considering the ever present woes of traffic hold ups, road diversions and the infusion of visitors over an extended season - drivers and staff manage to cope admirably with whatever problem, large or small arises on a daily basis.
All the public are concerned with is 'when is the next bus/tram due' and 'will there be a seat free'. All of the fine detail and behind the scenes work and effort to ensure both, is very much taken for granted. It has ever been so.
Of late the Company has been conscious of its prominence in the daily life of the town and its hinterland. Quite apart from the essentials of delivering reliable vehicles and optimal turnout for peak periods - BTS have pulled out the proverbial stops in promoting their role and delivery of services to the community. Quite a number of examples spring to mind over the past twelve months.
The noteworthy appearance of red poppies on the front of buses and trams in the run up to November 11th added considerably to public awareness of this most important date of national Remembrance. Remodelling the Customer Information office on Market Street (and its smaller reception area at Rigby Road) with friendly staff to handle the myriad requests from residents and visitors alike. Providing staff with informal but smart 'dress' reflecting the ethos of the Company and coming up with 'user friendly' information material on service changes (an ever constant feature it seems). This latter point reflected in the special information display in St John's precinct earlier this month. Exhibiting the new buses impacting on the town and ensuring a high quality of clean vehicle finish adds much to the image of Blackpool's transport operation. Acknowledging special anniversary events with provision of older and new models for public benefit (and of course the ever present enthusiast lobby). In this context turning out examples of the current bus fleet in retro traditional Corporation green and cream - to very favourable comment locally.
Blackpool double deck buses - successive generations from the 1960s lined up at Rigby Road for a photo shoot for our new title 'Tilling Stevens to Alexander Dennis - Blackpool's Buses 1921 - 2017' due out this summer.
And finally of course supporting and sustaining the growing heritage tram tour operation from its base at Rigby Road which originates due to innovative work and dedication of Bryan Lindop with his small team of colleagues. From uncertain beginnings in the aftermath of the upgrade programme - it has become an important element of Blackpool's seasonal visitor offer on the promenade. Below : Fifty years also seperates the contrasting Bombardier 'Flexity' model with British built (in Birmingham) trailer unit 'T2' leading a twin set on another heritage tour on the promenade.
Heritage Trams Galore. A reminder of the eclectic collection of trams now stored in Rigby Road's cavernous, if ageing, tram depot. From 1937 Brush cars to the sole OMO example together with experimental 761 and the green trolley gantry of 648 marking the final chapter in UK tram development. A couple of BTS 'Excel' buses bookend the scene - this class finally being withdrawn from service in 2016.
All Images : John Woodman
Blackpool should be proud of its Council - owned transport system, one of a dwindling number in the UK. Local ownership and management makes a huge difference to people's lives. The reverse is true when large and usually insensitive corporate set ups, far removed from their customers and focussed only on the bottom line, take over. A classic example being the Post Office with its excuse of a customer friendly presence in the town centre. Just finding Blackpool's main post office is huge challenge.
For all of the drivers, conductors, maintenance and workshop staff at BTS - a big thank you for the work and effort through the year.