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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Changing Times - BTS Livery Transition

Blackpool's transport scene is a bewildering menage of differing liveries and colours as the bus side undergoes radical change. The former yellow and black scheme introduced a decade previously under the management of Trevor Roberts, itself did away with the multicoloured 'Line' branding of his predecessor Steve Burd. We are treated to vestiges of this replacement styling on 'Trident' double deckers now very much evident on Service 7 and intermittently on other Services. Retaining the use of destination 'blinds' immediately identifies these buses are destined for early replacement and contrasting with the electronic lighting displays now the norm despite problems in recognition when facing direct sunlight.

The ADL bus fleet is now the dominant force on Blackpool's bus routes, both the double and single deck versions. Much like an era when locally built Burlingham bodied buses held exclusive reign in Blackpool's substantial fleet, now Falkirk bus builder holds sway in BTS fleet purchasing policy. This comes complete with the 'Palladium' colours, ironically first appearing on Mercedes 'Citaro' single deck buses for the Victoria Hospital Service 5 before appointment of Jane Cole as Managing Director at BTS.

It recalls a similar fleet transformation nearly ninety years ago. The arrival of Walter Luff heralded an equally dramatic change of livery along with infusions of new buses and trams to a wholly new style. The conservative fleet of predecesser Charles Furness with red, white and black lined out livery suddenly was changed almost overnight to the favoured green and 'ivory' by his replacement from 1933. Just as in 2019, both styles coexisted for a transitional period providing equally colourful clashes of vehicle design and branding. The sharp contrast between Luff's impressive makeover of both bus and tram fleets with successive infusions of streamline designs, all with a common, corporate style immediately dated previous generations of buses, even those delivered in the early 1930s. It should be remembered that Blackpool's newest single deck trams arrived in 1928 for the Fleetwood service; themselves intended as fresh upgrades for wood seating cars built when Queen Victoria was on the throne. In 1933 just five years later English Electric's groundbreaking 'rail coach' arrived to sweep away forever the town's conservative and traditional approach to its municipal public transport services.

We are witness to a similar chapter as Jane Cole's smart new buses edge out the once ground breaking 'Tridents' from the previous decade. However Blackpool's trams are 'out of sync' and far less inspiring than the nostalgic rides provided by their traditional predecessors. The Council branding (as opposed to BTS) does little to enhance the seafront operation - with the light rail fleet becoming both tired and disfigured by cluttered signage and advertising. Only the two recent all 'pink' sponsor painted examples provide a welcome improvement to the lamentable fussy Council image with its dour purple and black livery signed off somewhere in 2010.

What a successive change in vehicle transformation will look like is an open question - but it will certainly be dramatic as electric powered buses are already on the horizon.

Generational contrasts in styling - 2018/2019

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