Blackpool Transport, The End of a Dec(ker)ade
3 weeks ago
As we begin 2020, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what’s been happening at Blackpool Transport. We’ve delved even deeper this year and as we begin a new decade, we’re taking a quick look over the last ten years at Blackpool Transport.
The start of the decade saw the discontinuation of the colourful Metro Coastlines brand with the company reverting to its previous name of Blackpool Transport. Buses were rebranded with a snappy corporate yellow and black colour scheme and a new logo showing the Blackpool Tower with waves was introduced. Some yellow and black buses are still out on the network today, however, plans to refresh the network by the beginning of the 2020s are in full force and Palladium branding will be a standard by June 2020.
2011 saw Travel Centres at both Market Street and Rigby Road introduce Metro Day Saver tickets for adults, children and families giving unlimited travel on buses only between Fleetwood and Lytham. The adult ticket prices for use these tickets were £3.30 in 2011 which means that just under ten years on, the current price of £6 for 24-hour adult tickets on both buses and trams continues to offer the same great value for money.
The biggest news by far in 2011 however, was the closure of the world-famous Blackpool Tramway ahead of a £100million upgrade to the light rail system we see today.
2012 was dominated by the reopening of the tramway between Starr Gate and Fleetwood Ferry welcoming the introduction of fully accessible light rail Bombardier trams with enhancements to tram platforms ensuring level boarding. A number of the heritage and vintage trams were also retained to supplement the new trams and continue running to this day on a special tour basis.
In 2013, Blackpool Transport launched the aptly named ‘Resort Hopper’ linking in with the town’s tourism features and providing a service between Marton Mere Holiday Park and the Blackpool Pleasure Beach, calling at other top resorts such as Blackpool Zoo along the way. The announcement of this service coincided with the launch of the now immensely popular, Blackpool Resort Pass. Blackpool’s Resort Pass is still on offer giving visitors and residents alike, discounts at Blackpool’s top attractions. Travel tickets can be bought as an add on to the Resort Pass.
A familiar face joined us in 2014 as we welcomed our Managing Director Jane Cole to the business. Jane joined us on November 3rd and right from the very start outlined her plans for the network. An investment of over £1.5 million was soon announced for the introduction of our very first, state of the art, Mercedes buses. Announced in November 2014, we teased of a brand new livery that was kept secret until…
Palladium arrives in Blackpool! May 2015 saw the introduction to service of 10 Mercedes Citaros, kick-starting the fleet regeneration plan. These were the first buses in our Palladium branding and introduced revolutionary E-leather seating, free WIFI, and mobile charging ports, wood effect flooring and most importantly, an environmentally friendly bus.
Brand new buses were not the only addition in 2015 as we launched the incredibly popular 24 hour tickets to our ticket range
With 2015 kick starting what has now become an extremely successful fleet renewal programme we didn’t stop there. In 2016 we welcomed a new working partnership with Alexander Dennis, a UK bus manufacturer which in turn saw the arrival of 10 ADL E400 City double decker buses in July. The arrival of these new premium buses marked the end of any ‘step entrance’ buses to make our fleet fully accessible. The buses also included audio next stop announcements alongside many of the other great features you now expect from a Palladium service.
No buses older than five years by 2020 was the goal and the biggest delivery yet came in 2017 to push that plan in the right direction. April 2017 saw no less than 25 ADL E400 City double-decker buses enter the fleet, with an iconic launch event seeing every bus paraded in a line along the world-famous tramway. Haven’t seen the video yet? Take a look here. A further 20 ADL double-decker buses were introduced on November 17 to fulfil a rail replacement contract until April 18.
Speaking of rail, 2017 saw an extra 2 Flexity 2 trams added to our fleet to help carry the increasing number of customers along the Blackpool Tramway which reached an amazing milestone of carrying 5 million passengers throughout the year.
Whilst the brand new Palladium services boasted modern features that many had come to expect, including, this year, a few additions such as social seating and onboard TFT screens, it was time for the rest of the operation to catch up and so, the Blackpool Transport app was born. Alongside the mobile app, our website was upgraded for ease of use, accessibility and modernisation making it easier to navigate and find the information you are looking for.
Going from strength to strength the app continues to be a ‘go-to’ for many customers who travel on the services and has been consistently upgraded month on month and year on year since its launch. Over 180, 000 customers have downloaded our mobile app to date and it has been opened over 13 million times!, taking advantage of the easiest and cheapest way to travel around Blackpool with the added bonuses of comprehensive accessibility features, journey planning and timetables in the palm of your hand. You can check out our most recent app upgrades right here.
The arrival of new double-decker vehicles in 2017 meant that by 2018, a lot of the network benefited from everything Palladium had to offer. Changing direction in 2018 we introduced 18 brand new smaller single deck ADL E200 buses on our popular residential routes 3 & 4. This made sure that commuters and regular travellers continued to benefit from everything Palladium had to offer.
All of our customer's favourite Palladium features were taken and squeezed into the smaller bus whose services provide vital links to schools, colleges and health centres along its journey between Cleveleys, Blackpool Town Centre, Marton and Mereside.
Mid-2019 saw another 15 Palladium buses introduced. Whilst all of these buses were the Enviro 200 model, 11 of them were longer wheel based which allowed more seating for customers. Another addition to these brand new buses was the arrival of wireless charging and next stop visual announcements facing the wheelchair bay, a first for the bus industry!
Whilst a positive feature on our network, we understand that brand new buses will not enhance our customers experience by themselves so 2019 was a big step to increase the benefit and convenience of travelling with us. Summer and Christmas excursions took place to various locations, cheaper travel for match days at Bloomfield Road and the launch of our Time Back initiative were just a few of the ways we looked to promote the benefits of using public transport for our customers throughout the year.
As we begin another decade, we look ahead to the years to come and look back on the achievements already implemented. 2020 will see the arrival of a further 19 buses meaning every bus in our fleet will be in our iconic Palladium livery. We’re certainly not stopping there though! We’re starting to look at electric bus technology and the changes we’ll need to make to continue offering a world-class public transport service. We’ve also got lots of improvements planned for the types of tickets we offer and ways in which you can buy them, including the ability to buy your digital ticket directly from our website.
It's been a busy decade but we’re full of excitement to see what the next ten years bring for both Blackpool Transport and the resort. We look forward to seeing you on board.