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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Marketing Those Services

Blackpool's Bus Services have undergone something of a metamorphisis in terms of information and styling over successive decades. From the simplistic small pocket timetables first appearing in 1932 right up to the mid 1960s to the now 'Palladium' branded marketing materials which come complete with a fleet of new buses. Of course changes in Management had a marked influence on the image of the Transport Department with five different Managers of the Borough Transport Department and later arms length Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. since 1985. Walter Luff was in charge for twenty one years, and his successor Joe Franklin a further twenty two years - giving some longevity to their respective transport information materials. Derek Hyde took over in 1976 and gave way to Tony Depledge when he assumed the job of MD of the new arms-length but still Council owned Blackpool Transport company in 1986 on de-regulation of municipal transport services. In 2000 Steve Burd became Managing Director, introducing the 'Metro Coastlines' brand with its individual service colours on buses (and some trams). This was all quickly swept away from 2009 on Steve's move to a new position in the midlands. Trevor Roberts took an immediate dislike to the multiplicity of bus liveries and individual service timetables - to replace them with a standardised format which itself lasted just four years until his replacement by Jane Cole and her own experience at Virgin Trains. It wasn't long before a further rebranding began, starting with delivery of ten Mercedes 'Citaro' buses in the now prevalent grey and silver styling (and yellow) under the 'Palladium' brand. Timetables and information materials followed suit in all of these changes.

All of this important aspect of our transport system received little if any attention, being discarded almost immediately after use. Nonetheless it does provide a useful reference over successive decades of the every changing style and approach to passenger (sorry customer) attitudes. The simple days of printing off timetable information and putting them into a black and white format are now long gone.

A corporate style was initiated way back by Walter Luff with his insistence on the tram and bus fleets being painted in similar styling but the timetables were made straightforward changing only with the seasons from summer to winter and so on. This continued well into the 1960s. By the following decade Derek Hyde began to experiment with a more user friendly approach on bus services to Grange Park and Mereside (Below)

It would take the newly deregulated Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. to break free entirely from the traditional conservative approach to publicity material and promotional approach. HandyBus being the big change together with the introduction of black and yellow colours for new bus services with decidedly different approach to vehicle design.

This was followed on by the famous Metro Coastlines branding brought forth with the system providing a kaleidoscope of different coloured buses on 'Lines'. Each 'Line' having its own colour branded timetable in a neatly folded pocket

timetable complete with map of the route. Myriad changes ensued with the Paint Shop being kept busy repainting vehicles on a continuous basis. A sudden change of management brought this to an abrupt halt by 1999. Trevor Roberts arrived with a no nonsense approach and phased removal of the multi coloured approach to reintroduce black and yellow on the bus fleet and return to simple typed timetable leaflets. Another change at the top has now completed yet another circle (or is it cycle?) in Blackpool Transport's image with successive deliveries of 'Palladium' styled buses and repainting of one batch of single deckers to the same brand. One thing is sure, the town's buses remain distinctive and apart from the consolidated operations of major groups - nothing comes close to Blackpool's current styling now dominating the town's bus services (well almost). Finally a flavour from those simpler times :

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