This weekend sees Blackpool Transport bus services taking on Lancashire County Council authorised routes between Fleetwood and Preston Bus Station. Services 74 and 75 from the centre of Fleetwood will each operate scheduled routes linking inland communities in the Fylde with Preston and terminating at the city's Bus Station.
Blackpool Transport is no stranger to services to Preston resulting from operating rail replacement schedules over the past year under arrangements with Network Rail and Train Operating Companies. This however involved services beginning (and ending) at Blackpool North and Preston's Railway Station.
Whilst a sustained campaign has been underway for several years to reconnect Fleetwood and Thornton by rail to the national network - this most recent engagement of BTS in a wider reach across the Fylde using its smart bus fleet is an important step in several ways. Firstly it widens the remit of BTS and its connectivity with Preston - a city which is planning for a new light rail system at the present time. Secondly it broadens the scope of BTS's own network beyond the Fylde coast taking on the role of providing scheduled bus routes to rural communities and small towns (as well as businesses) west of the A6 and M6 north of Preston (and south of Lancaster).
In time there may well be further scheduling of new routes that serve the expanding University campus south of Lancaster and into that city itself. The Preston, Lancaster and Fylde coast triangle represents a potent growing market for journeys fuelled in part by the house building ambitions of developers and people finding this part of the northwest an attractive area to retire to. At one time bus operators like Scout Motor Services and Ribble maintained relatively frequent bus services to Preston from the Fylde coast - with skeletal remnants from those days still evident today - the 42 running to Morecambe from Blackpool via Garstang and Lancaster being just one example.
Below : In the late 1940s the X42 with new 'White Ladies' was the premier cross Fylde service north from Talbot Road Bus Station to Lancaster and Morecambe. Scout Motor Services with more conservative tastes in buses operated the 158 route to Preston via Weeton. Both seen here awaiting departure facing on to Talbot Road circa 1949 Photos : John Woodman Archive