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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Goodbye To Inspectors

John Woodman

News this week that Blackpool Council have approved financing that will allow Blackpool Transport to instal 'Oyster Card' system on its buses and trams. This allows a 'tap and go' for passengers on entry to vehicles - but requiring a further use of the card on leaving the vehicle so that the correct fare can be automatically calculated and charged.

The bus fleet will be fully fitted with the system onboard this year- with the tram fleet (a far smaller number - to follow). Presumably the 'B' fleet cars will be included. Electronic fare payment will do away with the need for Ticket Inspectors - and eventually roving conductors on trams. However cash payments will remain a feature for fare transactions on the system for the forseeable future - given the high volume of visitors using the tram service.

Complete elimination of onboard conductors may be a step too far (at least on the trams). Amsterdam being one transport system which was forced to reintroduce tram conductors following fare dodging on a significant scale in the past decade. Whereas buses have a single front entrance point, lengthy modular trams are a different proposition entirely with multiple doors allowing entry and egress of passengers throughout. Blackpool's first generation of 'one man operated' trams similarly were limited to a single point of entry at the front with the driver issuing fares or validating travel passes and cards.

In former times Blackpool Transport Inspectors were responsible for checking on timekeeping of vehicles as well as random checks of tickets of onboard passengers. Correct uniform attire of crews and ensuring destination blinds were correct for the vehicle's journey were also further aspects of an Inspector's job. It is surprising how many drivers forget to 'rewind' or otherwise change the destinations on their vehicles before setting off on a return journey. Drivers in particular could find themselves in front of the 'Manager' or senior Inspector for failure to adhere to this or that instruction. Passengers too had to hold on to their ticket in case of an Inspector suddenly appearing by their seat to check that they had not underpaid or overridden their fare stage destination (or indeed had a ticket). Of course most if not all of these infractions are now moot points in today's IT world.

Images from a more innocent era perhaps?


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