Sunday, 30 December 2012

Volvo B10M throwback

It was back in February 1996 when Stagecoach purchased the Greater Manchester Buses South business after a period of intense competition on GMBS' prime route, service 192 between Manchester Piccadilly and Hazel Grove via Stockport. GMBS had inherited a large fleet of elderly double deckers of Atlanteans, Fleetlines and MCW Metrobuses at the break up of the former Greater Manchester Transport and investment in new vehicles was at an all time low. Stagecoach's first priority was the replacement of the old stock and 90 Volvo B10Ms (895-984) arrived between August and December 1997, amongst the last step entrance single decks purchased by the group.
898 when new in Manchester Piccadilly with a GMBS liveried MCW Metrobus behind
Two of these, 898 & 899, are now in our operating fleet and this picture shows 898 when new in the once familiar Stagecoach corporate livery.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Dart 145 prepared for service

Dennis Dart 145 has been resprayed in all-over London red ready for a return to passenger service in January, to coincide with the enhanced 20-minute service on Catch 22. The bus was part of a batch of thirteen Darts with dual-door Alexander bodies that were delivered new to Armchair in London in May 1999 in their orange, white & black livery. The operation later passed to Metroline (becoming DA140 - 152) and the batch operated until 2008/9 when they were withdrawn for mid-life overhaul. Unfortunately for Metroline, tender changes resulted in new buses being specified and the refurbishment work was abandoned and the buses stored until their lease agreements expired and they were returned to their finance company.
145 upon collection from respray into all-over London red for CBNW operations.
DA145 was one of the examples refurbished but then stored and is now one of the few survivors (DA143/DA152 are also known to survive) - the others were sold to dealers and ended up being scrapped. In superb condition, 145 has been tidied up after joining our fleet and adds a bit of variety to the Darts already in service.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Another look at Binky's past

RM1568 towards the end of its operating days with MTL London on route 139 to West Hampstead.
Here is another view of our "Binky" operating in London towards the end of its first unbroken period of operation in London. It was withdrawn in 1998 and sold the following year, but then was re-acquired by Transport for London in 2000 as part of the "Dartmaster" programme. It was ironic that as the last of the repowered "Dartmaster" conversions entered service that developments in smartcards and the hugely successful Oystercard made the bus conductor almost redundant in central London. As the last of the conversions re-entered service, TfL were making plans for the wholesale withdrawal of the Routemaster class. RM1568 returned to London service in September 2001 but was withdrawn a little over four years later, October 2005.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Volvo 898 returns from repaint

There are a few twins in the CBNW operating fleet - ex Stagecoach Dennis Darts 162/163, Volvo Olympians 324/325 (although they were technically RA264/RA272 in Dublin) and finally ex-Stagecoach Volvo B10Ms 898 & 899. Now, following a respray into standard CBNW all red livery, 898 & 899 are identical twins again.
898 awaits application of CBNW fleetnames. It is posed here following return from respray alongside ex-Transdev Dennis Dart 512 that will itself be resprayed in CBNW livery during 2013.
898 returned from respray on Friday 7th December gleaming in London red and it will now be prepared for a return to passenger service on "Catch22" and College contract work, rejoining its twin 899 that has been in regular use since September.

Friday, 7 December 2012

A zebra cannot change its stripes!

A zebra certainly cannot change its stripes it would appear....

We are lobbying with the Blackpool Taxi Operators Association for Blackpool Council to remove the zebra crossings between Central and North Piers on the Promenade that are the cause of traffic being almost at a standstill during the summer months. The problem is that Blackpool Council officers do not appear to see what is the obvious truth - that the new Promenade looks good, but the zebra crossings are inappropriate for the traffic & pedestrian flows expected of them. The quote below is from guidance on zebra crossings which leads me to think how the zebras ever got passed by any sane person as suitable for Blackpool Promenade???
"Zebra crossings should be considered where pedestrian flows are 1100 people per hour or less (averaged over the four highest hours) and where vehicle flows are 500 vehicles per hour or less (averaged over the four highest hours).
Zebra crossings are usually used where pedestrian flows are relatively low and traffic flows are no more than moderate. Gaps of around five seconds are needed for an able person to cross a 7 metre carriageway.

Zebra crossings are also best avoided on busy town centre streets or outside railway stations since this is likely to result in a constant stream of pedestrians claiming priority. Higher flows of pedestrians will cause substantial delay to vehicles, creating traffic congestion, and a Zebra crossing is less likely to be a satisfactory choice. Where gaps in traffic flows are few, and waiting times long because people feel it may be hazardous to establish precedence, a Zebra crossing is likely to be unsuitable."

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Changing times on Catch 22

From Wednesday 02 January we will be amending the route and timetable of Service 22.

Route Alteration
We are amending the route of Service 22 in the North Shore area between Blackpool Town Centre and Bispham to increase the coverage of the service and provide better links for passengers. From 02 January, service 22 will divert from Dickson Road to serve the Claremont area and it will then operate right along Warley Road to the junction of Warbreck Hill Road. The alteration will provide new links to South Shore and parts of North Shore for residents of the Claremont area, and will mean that parts of Warley Road will have a bus service for the first time in over 20 years, reducing the distance that residents have to walk to access buses.
Dennis Dart 162 at Moor Park stop in Bispham
Changing times
Times of buses will be altered in the afternoon (Monday to Friday) to avoid the variation in times that have proved confusing to passengers.
Buses will leave Mereside at 04 & 34 throughout the day with the last departing Mereside at 1704 like the Saturday timetable.
Buses will leave Cleveleys at 05 & 35 throughout the day with the last departing Cleveleys at 1805 like the Saturday timetable.
This timetable will operate until Monday 14 January when service 22 will be increased to a 20 minute service on Mondays to Fridays. A new “Catch 22” leaflet will be printed to coincide for the 20-minute service starting.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

CBNW throwback - our Binky!

In my series of postings looking at our fleet before they joined CBNW, this posting focuses on Routemaster RM1568, which we know affectionately as "binky". New in April 1963, Binky is approaching its 50th birthday next year. It's first spell of operational life in London lasted until 1998 when it was withdrawn after many years as a Tottenham based bus. It was prior to sale that 568CLT surrendered its registration and became BNK324A, hence its nickname as Binky.
It's life away from London proved to be shortlived for in September 2000 it was one of over 50 RMs purchased by Transport for London to rejoin active service in the capital in advance of congestion charging and planned increase in bus services. RM1568 was sent to Marshalls for refurbishment and repower with the Cummins engine and allison gearbox, which became known as the dartmaster conversion. It was leased by TfL to Sovereign who operated Route 13 (Aldwych to Golders Green) with 'dartmasters' until Routemaster operation ceased in October 2005.

RM1568 in 1980s guise awaits its next departure on 2B to Crystal Palace
After sale, "Binky" was used on an Oxford tour operation before it was passed to a Manchester operator but then ended up on ebay. It joined CBNW in January 2008 and has been in regular use with us ever since.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Another Dart joins the fleet

145 - the latest Dennis Dart to join the CBNW operating fleet following arrival in Blackpool on 20 November.
Today, another Dennis Dart joined the CBNW fleet to be prepared for service on "Catch 22" and strengthen our low floor output. Former Metroline DA145 (reg T145AUA) was new to Armchair in May 1999 and operated in Brentford, initially in their orange & white livery until the company was acquired by Metroline in 2004. These Alexander bodied Darts had a relatively short operating life, being withdrawn for refurbishment for the 209 service but then placed in store and later returned off-lease in December 2010. Never operated in its refurbished guise, the batch of Darts passed to dealers but DA145 was one of the few to escape the scrapyard and, still in good condition, but with faded paintwork after years of outside storage, this bus has now been acquired by CBNW to join other ex-London Darts already in the fleet. It is proposed to repaint "145" in standard red livery and apply route & fares graphics for service 22 ready for a return to passenger service from January 2013.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

CBNW throwback - Dublin Olympians

RA 272, (96-D-272) in navy/yellow fleet livery was photographed in November 2006 towards the City Centre terminus of Route 130 in Dublin. It is now 325 (N325NHG) in the CBNW fleet.
Now 325 in the CBNW operating fleet, former Dublin Volvo Olympian RA 272 was one of a batch of fourteen bus delivered new to Clontarf Garage between March and May 1996, RA 264, (96-D-264) to RA 277, (96-D-277), all in Cityswift livery. RA264 was also destined to join CBNW, becoming 324 (N324NHG) and currently advertising Blackpool & Fylde College. Both have proved to be very reliable buses, despite now being over 16 years old. They are generally confined to the B&F College contracts although 324 was operated on "Sea Front 12" during the summer months and both see occasional service on "Catch 22".

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Lights out for Service 12

Volvo 899 makes a rare appearance on SF12 and shows its dot-matrix display, now loaded for all CBNW operated services. 899 is captured at North Pier as dusk falls on the final operating day.
Today was the end of the operating season for "Sea Front 12" with RM1568, RML2391, Olympian 269 and Volvo 899 operating workings on the final day of the illuminations. It has been a great year and the Routemasters have certainly established themselves as another tourist attraction in the resort and an alternative form of transport along the sea front.
Olympian 269, straight from duty on SF12 has its blinds changed ready for the following morning's College run on service 73.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Total gridlock!

Blackpool's new Promenade is rather like the emperor's new clothes - officials in the town cannot see the obvious truth - it often creates traffic gridlock and creates problems for bus services across the Fylde coast. There are 60-70 bus movements in front of the Tower every hour during the day and the traffic queues either side of the short stretch of single carriageway, shared space, 20mph section can result in 15-20 minute delays to all services. The problem is that the busier Blackpool is, the worse the traffic congestion and the more visitors there are, the more people cross the un-disciplined zebra crossings, compounding the traffic congestion either side.
Take yesterday for example, the northbound traffic queue started at Alexandra Road in South Shore and the southbound queue at Imperial Hotel. Some buses on our service 12 were taking two hours for a Pleasure Beach to Cabin round trip, whilst BTS' No.1 bus service completely bunched up. At one point in the afternoon, five No.1's were all within sight of each other at North Pier - three of them are visible in the picture below taken from one of our buses.
Three No.1 buses at North Pier, two others were in the vicinity but out of shot - and there's only 7 buses operating the 12-mile route from Starr Gate to Fleetwood Freeport! The effect of Blackpool's "shared space" in front of the Tower.
Of course, it's not just the buses that are affected - car drivers sat in traffic, both locals and visitors, are just burning fuel, creating extra pollution and, of course, not spending any money in the town. Please Blackpool Council - the new Promenade does look good, but re-think the design to improve traffic flow.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

RML2391 retrimmed

As part of the loan agreement for the operation of preserved RML2391during summer 2012, the lower deck seating has been reupholstered in the 1990s "eyes-down" blue & grey moquette that was applied to the RML class upon refurbishment. It certainly improves the appearance of the lower saloon - this moquette is prone to looking quite tired. Hopefully, we will refresh the interiors of RML887 & RML2734 this winter.

Updated Operating Fleet List

Correct to 21 October 2012:

162 V162MAX Dennis Dart Plaxton Stagecoach East London 12/99
163 V163MAX Dennis Dart Plaxton Stagecoach East London 12/99
269 P269PSX Volvo Olympian Alexander Lothian Buses 269
324 N324NHG Volvo Olympian Alexander Dublin Bus RA264
325 N325NHG Volvo Olympian Alexander Dublin Bus RA272
502 P502UFR Optare Metrorider Optare Blackpool 502
512 X512UAT Dennis Dart Plaxton London United DP512 11/2000
528 DCA528X Bristol VR ECW Crosville 528
533 X533UAT Dennis Dart Plaxton London United DP513 11/2000
899 R899XVM Volvo B10M Alexander Stagecoach Manchester
RML887 202UXJ AEC Routemaster Park Royal London Transport (Cummins Engine)
RM1568 BNK324A AEC Routemaster Park Royal London Transport (Cummins Engine)
RML2290 CUV290C AEC Routemaster Park Royal London Transport (Iveco Engine)
RCL2243 CUV243C AEC Routemaster Park Royal London Transport (AEC Engine)
RML2391 JJD391D AEC Routemaster Park Royal London Transport (Cummins Engine)
RML2734 SMK734F AEC Routemaster Park Royal London Transport (Cummins Engine)
RML2391 and RCL2243 on loan for 2012 Summer season
Other buses not featured in listing:
** Bristol VRT 360 (WTG360T) on loan to Crosville Motor Services, Weston-Super-Mare
** 898 (R898XVM) awaits preparation for service

Volvo B10M's twin arrives

Volvo B10M 898 being collected direct from Stagecoach's Chorley depot (c. Don Penney)
The former Stagecoach B10M, no.899, has been in use five days a week recently on our service 22 due to problems with Darts 162/163, and so we have taken up the option to add to the fleet sister bus 898 which was collected direct from Stagecoach's Chorley depot last Wednesday. Like 899, the bus was overhauled, retrimmed and repainted as a spare vehicle to cover for Olympic contracts in London but in the event it was not required and Stagecoach are now replacing all step-entrance buses in the fleet. 898 will receive CBNW all-red livery before it enters service with us.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Olympian 325 returns

Olympian 325 has been off the road since July 2011 when we lost the contract to operate the Blackpool & Fylde College contracted services 72 & 73 to Blackpool Transport. Formerly Dublin Bus RA272, this 1994 built Volvo Olympian has recently passed its MoT test again and its front has received CBNW red livery. The sides and rear have been left for now, because the bus may soon to receiving a new wrapped advert livery.
Olympian 325 (N325NHG) will be appearing on College contracted services before it receives an all-over advert livery.
325 will be appearing back on the College services which we won back from Blackpool Transport from September 2012.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Bispham High bus ready for the road

Dart 163 with sister 162 in the background.
Our new "Catch22" bus service passes six of Blackpool's eight High Schools and one of these is Bispham High School that lost its direct link for students in South Shore when Blackpool Transport axed the through service 11 to Cleveleys in September 2011. We are working closely with Bispham High to promote our new bus service and restore the school's catchment for students living in the South Shore area. One result of this good working relationship is an all-over advert buus for the school. Ex-Stagecoach Dart 162 has been painted in Bispham High colours and is now ready for the road.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

It could be Tottenham!

Left to right: RML2290, RML2391 & RCL2243 after duty on 12s.
It could almost be Tottenham garage from this atmospheric shot of three Routemasters in our Brinwell Road garage. RML2391 was a regular on route 73 in London, based at Tottenham, and this view shows it being shunted after a duty of our "Sea Front 12" service alongside RML2290 and semi-open top RCL2243. Unfortunately, RML2391 has developed a gear selection fault with its gears seemingly going on random selection - something to sort out in the week!

Bristol VRT 528 pulls in the punters!

Illumination Saturdays are often the busiest weekends of the year and Saturday 22 September was no exception. Our Bristol VRT 528 (DCA528X) was back in service following a radiator and water pump change and it is seen here, fully loaded with passengers bound for Pleasure Beach.
ex-Crosville VRT 528 departs North Pier fully loaded southbound for Pleasure Beach

Ex-Stagecoach Volvo 899 enters service

Our former Stagecoach North West Volvo B10M entered service for the first time on the afternoon of Friday 21 September on one of the contracts we operate for Blackpool & the Fylde College. 899 has had a repaint into CBNW fleet livery of London red and looks absolutely superb! It is a fabulous bus to drive and its condition belies its 15-years of age - it was new to Stagecoach in Manchester in August 1997.
899 posed at Wesham following its first passenger carrying run with CBNW following repaint into our London red livery.

22s are back with a vengence!

Driver Roy Binns prepares to depart our Brinwell Road depot with the first 22 departure at 0634 on Monday 10 September with Dart 512 (X512UAT)
Well it was back in April 2001 when the original 22s ran for the last time but on 10 September the number has reappeared with our "Catch22" service operating between Mereside and Cleveleys, along some former sections of the original 22, but with several tweaks. Operating every 30 minutes, the 22 now has its own website ( and a dedicated fleet of low floor Dennis Dart buses.
Ex-Stagecoach London Dennis Dart 162 in full CBNW fleet livery on the 22 - but still awaiting branding for the Catch 22 which will be applied soon.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Darts enter service and preparing for "Catch 22"

Ex-Stagecoach Dart 162 (V162MVX) repanelled prior to repaint & MoT
The two ex-Stagecoach London Darts have both been repanelled and prepared for MoT tests over the last few weeks and they are now ready for receiving all-red CBNW fleet livery. Meanwhile, ex-Transdev Dart 533 (X533UAT) entered service yesterday on Sea Front 12 allowing our existing pool of drivers to be familiarised with these low floor buses.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Volvo B10M from Stagecoach

20899 upon collection from Stagecoach's Chorley depot - looking immaculate
A further addition to the the CBNW fleet direct from Stagecoach is former 20899, R899XVM, new to Stagecoach in Manchester but latterly with the Merseyside & South Lancashire division. Now 899 in the CBNW fleet, this vehicle was recently repainted & internally refurbished by Stagecoach for possible Olympic Games cover, but in the event it proved surplus to requirements. In absolutely superb condition, CBNW are happy to accept such a superb vehicle which will be prepared for use in our contract & private hire fleet. It is intended that 899 will adopt standard CBNW red livery very soon.

Further Darts join CBNW

512 & 533 pause for a rest on the delivery run to Blackpool on 29 August.
A little later than planned, two further Dennis Darts arrived with CBNW yesterday, this time from Transdev London. However, on the plus side both buses have been MOT'd by their previous owner as part of the deal and they will now be quickly prepared for use on our "Catch 22" service which starts on 10th September. These Darts are in great condition and further additions are being discussed. The two latest additions are 512 (X512UAT) & 533 (X533UAT).

RCL2243 joins the fleet - on loan

RCL2243 on its maiden voyage with CBNW on SeaFront 12 - it left Pleasure Beach with a full load!
We are very pleased to announce a temporary addition to the CBNW operating fleet - RCL2243 has joined us on loan from Routemaster Buses of Crewe. It has already proved to be a magnet for tourists on Sea Front 12 but will soon be operating alongside our other open top Bristol VR on illumination tours from the Norbreck and other North Shore hotels from 1st September.

New blog, new depot & new routes!

This is a new blog to record events and fleet news at Classic Bus North West. We have recently moved to a new operating base close to the end of the M55 motorway on Brinwell Road which can accommodate over 20 vehicles under cover. Currently "SeaFront 12" and our private hire contracts, but also from September our output increases to operate two contracts for Blackpool & Fylde College and, from 10 September, our new town bus service "Catch 22" starts, linking Mereside, Blackpool & Cleveleys.