Blackpool's Bus Stops And Transport Branding
In the early years of Blackpool bus services - bus stop signs were erected on wooden posts painted with red and white roundels to make them readily visible. At the time (in the 1920s and early 1930s) the town's municipal transport used red and off white fleet colours. It was not until 1933 with a change of Manager that the fleet vehicle livery was changed to green and pale cream. Initially bus stops used metal roundel fittings with the simple lettering 'BUS STOP' in white on red.
When the green and cream branding became standard a wholesale repainting of the stop sign stanchions was quickly enforced - along with introduction of cast metal signs similarly in green lettering on cream background. These replaced the metal roundels. However the tramway kept its larger metal roundels for tram stops with two variants : 'ALL CARS STOP HERE' and 'CARS STOP HERE BY REQUEST'. The latter requiring waiting passengers to signal to oncoming buses their desire to board - usually an outstretched arm sufficed.
By the 1990s when the municipal transport operation had morphed into an arms length private company - Blackpool Transport Services Ltd., albeit wholly owned by Blackpool Council, the need for more informative signage was needed as well as EU regulations on such signage meant that the individualistic styling of many operators, both publicly owned and private, was replaced by a standard format incorporating the outline of a single deck bus in black on white background.
Blackpool Council opted for a sign which allowed addition of route numbers (much like London Transport's clean and elegant design) which could be readily changed by adding or deleting vinyl applications according to updated service adjustments. Shared or joint services using the same stop were also able to add their own branded route details. The former green stanchions (poles) were repainted to neutral colours - while the once prolific cast metal shelters (green and cream) were phased out entirely to be replaced by nondescript metal single sided products.
Latterly during 2020 the repainting of the bus stop stanchions began in Cleveleys and Anchorsholme with introduction of orange (or is it tangerine?) colouring. This has gradually spread further on to north Promenade and around Bispham - but so far leaving the town centre and most other districts in the previous neutral format. Tram stops similarly are untouched (unblemished?) in this rebranding exercise while most of the reserved track overhead poles show very visible signs of ageing and lack of repainting since their erection two or three decades previously. Obviously pole painting; once an essential facet of the Transport Department's responsibilities, has taken a back seat in these economically straitened times. Likewise bus stop signage in many places has weathered to the point of disappearing entirely in many places - sharply diminishing the image and public perception of their town's Council owned transport infrastructure.
Above : The Trevor Roberts era branding - once the norm. Below : More of the same - this time the final appearance of the last buses purchased new by Blackpool's municipal undertaking seen here at the 'Freeport' terminus of Service 1 in Fleetwood. Both Images : Copyright John Woodman
Whether or not these newly painted orange bus stops portend a brighter rebranding of the vehicle fleet from its present all grey styling remains to be seen. Presently the disjointed image of the town's tram service and its extensive bus operations, with the two respective vehicle fleets in completely different colours and styling does absolutely nothing to provide visitors (or residents) with the impression of a unified transport network. Adding orange painted bus stops to the mix serves to bring further dilution of any corporate identity which the operator is straining to impel on its public audience.