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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Steve Burd - Trevor Roberts - Jane Cole

Three Managing Directors of Blackpool Transport Services since 2001 to the present time. All three putting their personality and individual style on to Blackpool's buses. Starting with Steve Burd who rebranded the bus fleet and operation as well as introducing the 'Trident' double deck bus design which has lasted right through to 2018 although now in sharp decline numbers wise.

Steve's focus was on individual route identification with distinctive themed colours for each service. This resulted in a kaleidescope of liveries traversing the town. Accompanying this strategy was transformation of Blackpool Transport into 'Metro Coastlines' with Services becoming 'Lines' in marketing and information material. The need for new buses to take over from ageing Atlanteans and subsequent purchases saw the company standardise on the 'Trident' style of East Lancashire Coachbuilders.

His exit from Rigby Road in 2009 brought in Trevor Roberts who had managed the still publicly owned Newport Corporation transport operation. Trevor took exception to the variety of fleet colours which abounded in Blackpool's system, as well as the Metro Coastlines brand. Both were quickly discarded in favour of a stark yellow and black colour scheme and return to the original Blackpool Transport logo of the 1980s. An opportunistic agreement to acquire surplus Trident type double deckers from the Isle of Man transport company allowed Blackpool to dispose of the last of its Leyland Atlantean models and other second hand buses acquired earlier in the decade.

Trevor's tenure was relatively short but not before paint shop economies saw much of the bus fleet rebranded in the latest fleet livery complete with its silver and red accented 'swoop'. His deputy and interim manager then became responsible for acquiring new single deck buses in the form of Mercedes 'Citaro' models which arrived with high level interior finish and yet a further livery change - this time in Palladium, silver and cream. The company logo was given a further makeover with a silver themed rendition to complete the new styling.

Appointment of Jane Cole as Managing Director in 2011 began an even greater transformation as the Trident fleet was showing its age through the second hand Isle of Man purchases and a new vehicle policy was called for. The debut of Alexander Dennis with its new double deck Enviro type model caught the attention of Blackpool Transport who proceeded to order a sample tranche from this coachbuilding firm (a first for Blackpool). The new buses reinforced and extended the 'Palladium' livery treatment previously introduced on the 'Citaro' single deck vehicles, and contrasted favourably in their design, layout and interior finish with Blackpool's by now ageing Trident design. From sharp edged styling to smooth rounded bodywork - the contrast could not be greater.

Revisions to existing single deck buses with upgraded body interior finish and the new standard 'Palladium' colours was a further step towards overall replacement of the yellow and black styling from 2009. The transition was further emphasised with the introduction this year of new ADL (Alexander Dennis Ltd) single deck models taking over from the Optare 'Solo' models on services 3 and 4 - a transition promoted on the sides of the double deck fleet.

Indications of yet a further fleet transition to all electric buses are being mooted in the medium term in what could be an exemplary decision by BTS to engage with both ADL and a Chinese company in line with environmental concerns on global warming. The future bodes well for Blackpool and the Fylde coast in groundbreaking transport initiatives that also extend to extended light rail and potential tramtrain services. Watch this space.

Blackpool's bus operations are the subject of a new title in preparation for late 2019 by Rigby Road Publishing 'Tilling Stevens to Alexander Dennis : One Hundred Years of Blackpool's Buses'.

Above : Trident 305 still showing its as delivered 'Metro Coastline' colours (for Line 14) and the giveaway year of registration 2002. Here seen loading at Hounds Hill. Below : Sixteen years later and nearing its sell by date - sister bus 302 in 'Trevor Roberts' fleet livery from 2010 on the promenade '1' service loading at (or near) North Pier with a successor ADL example passing to show the contrast in coachwork styles. The 2018 Enviro ADL single deck delivery for Services 3 and 4 is on the offside of the 'Palladium' branded double decker.

A classic landmark building below. Together with a classic Blackpool bus - both worth conserving.

And the nearside view - this time somewhere at Anchorsholme.

Trident 314 - one of the second tranche of this type - note the later registration date and less obtrusive BTS company logo on the front. Giveaway on the disposal of these vehicles is their use of destination and route number blinds still retained. Other examples have been 'upgraded' to the less distinctive LED lighting feature. Below : Blackpool bus travel 2002 styling - lower deck of a Trident on Service 1. All Images John Woodman October 19 and 20.

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