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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Solo Performances

Blackpool Transport was one of the first (if not the first) customer for the Optare company when it started its bus bodywork business in the 1980s. From the initial 'EasyRider' models branded as 'HandyBus' in a bold black and yellow livery to the more capacious 'Solo' design - Optare has been a visible and reliable partner for the town's bus services over the past three decades.

Times move on and the resort's substantial bus fleet evolving under the progressive management team at Rigby Road are focussed on technology innovation in tandem with Alexander Dennis Ltd. Deliveries of new single deck vehicles from ADL are expected shortly which will replace Optare Solo model buses familiar to passengers on the 3 and 4 services to Mereside (and other BTS routes).

Attention to a reduction of pollutants through new buses with hybrid power systems is inexorably leading to embracing all electric vehicles. Polluted town centres causing respiratory illnesses are headlines this week; with a chart of British towns and cities experiencing the higher levels of dangerous air pollutants, caused mostly through dense and continuous road traffic. A 'stroll' along Oxford Street, London - or counterparts in Manchester and other urban centres - demonstrates the impact of sustained vehicle exhausts in enclosed atmosphere. Even with clamp down of diesel cars and other vehicles and introduction of hybrid buses and electric cars - the cumulative and sustained impact of tens of thousands earlier and older vehicles on our streets is immediately noticeable by all ages.

Red Bank Road - with a Solo making the turn neatly showing the tram sign for the Bispham Hotel; while in the distance is the onetime home of the Manager of the 1898 Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company - James Cameron.

Facade of another Blackpool landmark the Central Library - funded by a grant from Andrew Carnegie. Note the blue wall roundel.

Above : Solo 240 unloads at the Bispham Hotel stop before turning on Red Bank Road.

All Images taken by John Woodman May 2, 2018

Not that the residents of North Shore, Bispham, Anchorsholme and Cleveleys are subjected to the intensity of traffic fumes at the same level of city centres. Far from it. Living on the Fylde coastline has its benefits; with cleaner air perpetually incoming from the Irish Sea and north Atlantic. In the meantime the sight of those black and yellow branded 'Solos' will soon become a memory for travellers in north Blackpool.

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