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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Smart Buses Around Town

One of the noteworthy aspects of Blackpool's townscape is the highly creditable condition and appearance of Blackpool Transport buses. Whether they are of the former yellow and black colours or in the current Palladium branding, double deck or single deck; their external condition is a credit to Rigby Road's Garage and maintenance team.

In former times (1950s and 60s') Blackpool Corporation Transport's vehicle output was always immaculate in then municipal green and cream livery. The once prevalent chrome trim was disappearing from vehicle panels - to the relief of the cleaners no doubt. The condition of vehicles was nearly always kept clean before entering service. It was only during the latter part of the 1960s when standards began to slip due to budget cuts and the by then all-over cream styling showed wear and tear; sometimes dreadfully so in winter months.

Visitors arriving at Blackpool North are greeted with ever constant shoals of Blackpool's buses in what are unique colours and definitely different from the bog standard styling of the private sector bus conglomerates. Although to be fair there are some colourful brandings now traversing the town promoting the delights of the 'Lakes' and other northwest locations.

However the Palladium fleet comes off trumps (if one is permitted that word these days) as being very much a special part of the Blackpool scene. Less so the trams which are now showing a distinctly worn patina of the original Council ordained purple, black and offwhite branding. The tacky roof level advertising detracts even further from the fleet appearance and one hopes that a makeover of the tram fleet is not too far off. Peversely the two sponsored 'Pretty Lady' trams in a classy all over pink rendering add brightness and style to an otherwise dowdy light rail operation. Given that the use of the purpose rebuilt double deck trams for light rail low platform service has not translated into any practical use - other than adding numbers to the 'heritage tour' operation - one wonders whether these units in their unfriendly Council branding perhaps might be better put out of their misery with a return to green and cream.

Given that the tram extension to North Station has been 'frozen in time' pending resolution of the Council imbroglio with a certain retail firm - the actual opening of this much heralded new service up Talbot Road might be timed with revealing an improved 'look' for the light rail fleet. Palladium branding might not be a bad idea conforming to the mainstream bus operation which we are now all familiar with.

Next Stop wilko ! Quite how long this impasse on a government funded tramway extension remains blocked from completion and opening of service - will last is an open question. Obviously someone has screwed up badly on the overall arrangements. Hands Up Please !

A breath of brightness along the promenade with one of the Pretty Little Thing duo passing North Pier a few weeks back. Both are a definite improvement on the image and impression created by the Council branding trams - so more please ! Below : two contrasting era in the history of Blackpool's bus operation with a Trident from the early 2000s and an ADL Enviro model in the now standard BTS corporate 'Palladium' branding. Seen here standing at Cleveleys Bus Station (itself a classic gem) on the 7 and 9 services respectively.

Images : John Woodman

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