• John Woodman

SN66 WLK is too good for Blackpool

As luck would have it a chance encounter at the North Pier Tram (and Bus) Stop found BTS Demonstrator SN66 WLK waiting to load heading north. Before the atrocious rain and wind reached the Fylde coast I took the opportunity to board for a journey to Cleveleys (instead of my intended visit to Waterloo Road). Having seen this distinctive Alexander Dennis model quite a few times in recent weeks the blue (neutral) livery was already a familiar sight.

However on boarding and heading to the top deck things were even more distinctive for passengers. Aircraft type seating with deep cushions, arm rests and folding tables inset into backrests were the first and most obvious difference. Passenger stop buttons faced each seat along with electronic power sockets, whilst table tops were liberally fitted at several points, including the rearmost section. Translucent roof panels gave a lightened feel to the interior with television screens positioned on the stairwell and facing into the top deck allowed Alexander Dennis (the Builder) to extol the merits of its products sold around the world. Start of my journey this morning :

On this occasion there were few passengers at least on the upper deck. My companion was overheard telling someone on her mobile (a common feature of bus travel these days) that she was riding on a really smart luxury bus, probably one used for tours. I would inform her not so - just a demonstrator before she headed downstairs at Cleveleys. The driver had some problem with the height of the steering wheel which he wasn't sure was adjustable, but definitely lower than the other ADL models used by BTS. The arm rest on the single nearside seat I trialled would not hold in the horizontal position and simply lowered to its lowest point. Not that I was particularly concerned at having an arm rest on a Blackpool bus. In fact the aisle armrests would be a hindrance to passengers during busy times needing to leave their seats, or indeed access them, particularly if carrying bags. Below : Looking Forward and comfort excellence

Aircraft/Touring Coach Seating - just a bit tight in the legroom though.

Screens at the ready

The overall impression was quite spectacular even with the BTS regular fleet - and quite above the norm for regular services in Blackpool. It is notable that the Demonstrator would seem to be assigned to the Promenade 1 Service avoiding schools traffic and the inevitable grafitti artists and vandalism which sadly is an everyday feature of public transport these days (and certainly not just in Blackpool). A wrap around vinyl BTS bus standing opposite displayed evidence of local yobs with its plain glass lower side windows replacing one which had been smashed recently - thus rendering the sponsor message illegible (in part). Below : something is lost in translation

SN66 WLK a great bus finish - but too good for local use in this part of the country.

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