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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Sorry : No Real Time Information

Blackpool's light rail service is the only operation of its kind in the UK devoid of real time tram arrival information on its station stops. This omission is noticeable when something goes wrong on the tramway due to breakdown, accident or some other incident which prevents the service schedule being maintained as advertised. There would seem to be a cavalier attitude towards this lack of electronic information based possibly on the lack of public reaction to having to wait for interminable periods and having to guess if and when a tram might actually show up.

Blackpool Council and Lancashire County Council are responsible for the tramway infrastructure and provision of lineside passenger 'amenities'. North of Anchorsholme tram shelters are given a green finish prescribed by Lancashire County Council in Preston whilst those within Blackpool unitary authority are in an as delivered morbid grey. Original plans intended that electronic displays would be provided at tram stops per the norm on UK light rail systems. For some reason these did not appear and nor did quality shelters with adequate seating and attendant cleaning of structures. The results are self evident for both residents and visitors.

All of this seems to be taken with a large bucket of salt by anonymous managers paid to govern the tramway and its fixed facilities. When something goes wrong on the line its a complete mystery to would be passengers (sorry customers) waiting impatiently along the tramway as to the reason for the delay - and most importantly when the next tram will arrive at their stop. A close relative this week experienced such a problem in Fleetwood along with crowds of mostly elderly visitors to Fleetwood's Market. It turned out (finally) that a tram was held up near the Gynn with a passenger needing to be taken to hospital and a consequent lengthy stoppage of service and buildup of cars behind.

To add insult to injury Fleetwood is now one of those unfortunate towns in Britain which is devoid of ATMs in its commercial centre. Apart from the notable exception of a supermarket close to Ash Street, just one other ATM seems to be available as long as you are willing to pay a transaction fee for the privilege. Ironically most visitors into Fleetwood by tram head for seafront and Market which are devoid of ATMs entirely - but if you wish to charge your electric powered car there are a row of smart points close to the tram terminus.

Going back to the issue of tram shelters - the Fleetwood end of the service lacks shelters at several stops including the all important one (Stanley Road) serving Fleetwood Town Football Ground - and Lindel Road for Fisherman's Friend headquarters. Perhaps an enterprising body might find ways to remedy these glaring omissions through local partnerships. Or is this an 'ask' too far in 2019? Installing an electronic tram arrival signage system (real time) would be of enormous benefit to just about everyone wanting to use the eleven coastal service. No self respecting light rail operation can afford to be without one. Blackpool seemingly being the exception.

Given that the operator is promoting its new payment 'ap', it is not beyond the resources of respective Councils to deal with basic service needs such as electronic arrival time signage and shelters for patrons (sorry - paying customers) on the Fylde coast. This will become even more relevant when the tram service (finally) reaches North Station with build up of arriving passengers on Northern and Virgin Trains.

No self respecting urban transport system can do without real time information at its light rail station stops. Dublin - July 2019. Note the neat and clean shelter, adequate and user friendly seating, well swept platform, ticket issuing machine and far right - electronic arrival information for tram 4013 on a busy platform.

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