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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Palladium Rules - Nearly

The introduction of the 'Palladium' brand seems like only yesterday, whilst in fact some five years ago Blackpool received with a flourish the delivery of ten brand new Mercedes 'Citaro' model buses in the grey silver and black branding complete with off yellow flourish. Their arrival allowed improvement to Service 5 to Victoria Hospital with a spacious interior and larger seating capacity. They would remain 'one offs' in the Blackpool fleet procurement.

Since 2015 the Citaros have been joined by successive deliveries from Alexander Dennis, beginning with the company's new Enviro double deck design which caught BTS management attention at a commercial show. This has now become the 'palladium' standard for Blackpool's buses edging out once dominant 'Trident' style predecessor with the bespoke yellow and black branding introduced by Trevor Roberts to eliminate the former 'Metro Coastlines' paint schemes of many tones which began in 2001. The ever declining Trident style double deckers are now reduced to the '1' and '7' services with every likelihood they will inevitably disappear completely from the operating fleet in the near future. It is hoped that at least one or two will be kept as 'heritage' examples for future generations to marvel at - joining ranks of preserved earlier series fortunately now retained locally (see below).

At two Tridents have been given renewed status as 'Driver Training' vehicles and a smart rendition of the 'Palladium' branding to show what might have been. Also now finally removed from our streets are the nimble 'Solo' single deck buses required for services to the many housing estates and outer reaches of the Fylde coast's residential sprawl. In their place a new generation of ADL short wheel base single deckers have taken over, augmented further in the past weeks by longer versions for Service 6 to Grange Park among other routes requiring larger capacity. This meant withdrawal of the five Wright bodied single deckers delivered in 2010 (520 - 524) whilst sister single deckers (Plaxton bodied (525 - 533) delivered the same year managed to join the 'Palladium' branded fleet thus ensuring a longer operating stay on the Fylde coast.

Below : A 'Palladium' Trident on Driver Training Duties last week

Below : In contrast a newly repainted 315 looking resplendent in its yellow black and 'swoop' styling soon to be destined for the history books ! On Service 1 naturally. The Paint Shop and BTS should be congratulated on maintaining these now elderly buses (2003) in this condition. Perhaps 315 is now a contender for preservation after withdrawal. Note the now almost extinct blinds.

Thus Rigby Road's bus fleet is predominantly in the grey and silver colours brought in just five years ago and transformation of the town's services is nearly complete. Intensive concern over global warming and need to reduce carbon emissions faster than previously though means ever great impetus to reorientate road transport to electric powered vehicles. Blackpool's transport company has active plans in place to realise an all electric bus fleet - alongside it should be said the town's electric tram service. There is a good chance that the resort may well emerge as the first all electric transport urban operator in the UK - thus equalling Blackpool's pioneering entry into electric street tram operation in 1885 when nearly all other communities remained fixed to horse and steam power. The new overhead electric trolley operation linking Blackpool and Fleetwood further enhanced the Fylde coast's reputation in those formative years for electric power. The Fleetwood tramroad was at the forefront of transport technology innovation when that line opened in 1898 - achieving sustained annual returns to its shareholders over twenty one years.

Below : ADL Rules in Blackpool. It was once Leyland and HV Burlingham, then Leyland and MCW. Now a new era on view at the Mansfield Road junction with a service 6 en route to Grange Park and 14 heading for Blackpool 'Centre'.

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