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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Six Buses An Hour

John Woodman

There was once an era of high frequency bus routes which saw a departure every ten minutes on many services. Present timetables are far more parsimonious in service frequency due to several factors, not the least of which is the competitive labour market for skilled and experienced drivers. The prevalence of door to door delivery with the onset of Amazon and supermarket vans trawling neighborhoods to drop off ordered goods of all types has intruded on bus operators continuing need for new drivers in urban markets, including Blackpool and the Fylde coast. At the same time door delivery is steadily increasing public preference for shopping online. A consequence has been reduction of vehicles with longer headways for waiting passengers to the point where many of Blackpool's once frequent bus routes are now reduced to thirty or twenty minute frequency.

The result is overcrowded vehicles with many passengers needing of seats on the lower deck of double deck buses. The prevalence of multiple travellers using mobility aids and mothers with overly large child carriers further limits standing room. The now infrequent buses (and trams) displaying 'Sorry Vehicle Full' or similar signage - adds even greater irritation to would be passengers. Drivers have to exercise patience and constraint in handling passenger flow, whilst ensuring they give due care and attention to the infirm and elderly forced to stand or otherwise in the process of finding an available seat.. Blackpool has avoided use of articulated buses preferring to operate higher capacity double deck vehicles on principal routes. These severely limit the number of seated passengers on the lower deck, when many of the travelling public are of a certain age needing to avoid the use of stairs, - especially those on moving vehicles. Thus the actual chances of gaining a secure seat on the lower deck on a thirty minute frequency service are slim at best for those having to board midway on a journey - at least inbound to the town centre, or out of town retail park.

The answer would seem to be high frequency services or larger single deck capacity vehicles - or both. This especially applies to routes which serve or terminate at Victoria Hospital - attracting as it does large numbers of elderly and disabled passengers. Just whether the next generation of buses in all electric mode are going to reflect these ongoing factors, remains to be seen.


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