Monday, 22 December 2014

Ex-Cardiff Dart joins the fleet

A further Dennis Dart joined the fleet today, former Cardiff 147 (T147DAX), acquired from Aimee's Travel in Leek. It is ironic that our fleet colours closely resemble those of Cardiff Bus, but 147 retains the previous Cardiff livery of turquoise and cream.
147 in Cardiff in 2013 before withdrawal with a new liveried Dart following it.
147 was once part of a batch of seven MPDs (Mini Pointer Darts) delivered to Cardiff Bus in August 1999, nos 144-150. Withdrawn in 2013 and all still in good condition the entire batch found homes with independent operators, including Select of Swansea & closer to us M&M Coaches in Accrington.
147 pictured in Macclesfield on its journey to Blackpool.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Trent Olympian to return home

It has been over seventeen years since Blackpool Transport acquired a batch of ten ECW bodied Olympian buses from former NBC subsidiary Trent to replace a motley collection of life expired Atlantean buses acquired from Fylde Transport. Now, former Trent 701 is soon to return to its native Derbyshire for further preservation and restoration to Trent livery.
After withdrawal by Blackpool Transport, XAU701Y initially joined the LTT collection but later returned to active duty on the summer season 12 service, complete with an all-advert wrapped advert for Blackpool Pleasure Beach's "Hot Ice" show.
Unfortunately, 701 suffered a gearbox fault earlier in 2014 and the decision has been taken that it is surplus to operational requirements, but we wanted to ensure it found a good home preserved, preferably back in its native operating area. This has been achieved and it looks like 701 will return to Derbyshire early in 2015. We look forward to following the progress with 701's restoration in its 32nd year...
701 at Cleveleys on summer season "SeaFront 12" after returning to duty wearing an all-over wrapped advert for the Pleasure Beach "Hot Ice" show. (Photo: David Umpleby)

Monday, 8 December 2014

A bad day on the Buses

Traffic management in Blackpool is one of my pet subjects and today Blackpool Promenade was closed between Tower and North Pier because of scaffolding debris resulting in the closure of this section of the Promenade and traffic being diverted through the town centre. Cross town bus services were disrupted with routes operating the "illuminations diversion" around the town with these routes badly congested, extending journey times. Our service 22 certainly suffered resulting in some lost mileage and disgruntled passengers whilst BTS cross town services 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11 & 14 were observed with buses bunching together.
Volvo 139 waits at Bispham Library to get back to timetable after services were heavily delayed attempting to cross the diversion route due to the closure of the Promenade.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

It's a Name changer

With effect from 01 December 2014, Oakwood Travel Services Ltd has been renamed Catch22Bus Ltd to consolidate the bus services operated within the increasingly recognised trading & brand name. The Catch22Bus fleetname already appears on the bus fleet and bus services such as the recently introduced service 6 also appear on the Catch22Bus website.
The name change was introduced to coincide with the company's new financial year and has been recognised by Companies House, there being no other changes to the legal entity.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Red Rocket lifts off for 2014

The "Red Rocket" has lifted off again today and will be operating Christmas weekend shuttles to Manchester. The first journey is depicted showing bendybus BL52ODK showing its Manchester Express destination display.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Volvo 139 enters service

Former London United Volvo B7TL W139 EON (ex VA103) made its debut on service 22 after temporary destination blinds and Catch22Bus vinyls were applied. It was planned to convert to single door and repaint in new fleet livery before it entered service, but this year has slipped by so quickly and the decision was made to simply get 139 out on the road earning its keep with a planned makeover now scheduled for Spring 2015.
139 at Cleveleys on service 22 to Mereside (photo by Alan Robson)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Volvo 139 gets ready for service

We have finally got around to submitting ex-London UnitedVolvo B7 no.139 (W139EON) for MoT which is passed today. It was planned to convert 139 to single door before it entered service with us but the year has slipped away so quickly. Instead, 139 will now be pressed into service over the winter months and the door conversion and repaint will be re-scheduled for Spring 2015.
139 following its MoT pass at Martins of Middlewich.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Throwing a Six to start

Today we started our new service 6 operating between Grange Park Estate and Blackpool Town Centre, via Layton, every 15 minutes. The service represents an interesting throwback to earlier years when service 6, operated by Blackpool Transport, ran to Grange Park - although its ancestry owes more to Mereside estate than Grange Park.
Our new 6 operates 07:25 to 17:10 from Grange Park with the last departure from Blackpool Town Centre departing at 17:35. Unlike almost all BTS services operated from Grange Park over the last generation or so, our service 6 provides a more direct link into Blackpool, operating along Talbot Road as opposed to either Caunce Street (BTS 11) or via Victoria Hospital & Newton Drive (BTS 2A).
356 was the first bus to depart from Grange Park on the new service 6. The bus is depicted here in poor winter light.
Service 12 has now finished for the winter after a busy summer and open tops 69 & 326 are back in store. In other fleet news, 617 (X617JCS) entered service on 12s last week.

617 finally entered service on 30 October after passing its MoT and having been treated to a repaint in Catch22Bus fleet livery earlier in the year.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Fleet Update

As predicted, Dart 163 returned to passenger service on 22s during July and subsequently sister bus 162 still retaining red livery has been placed in store.
During August we reawakened Bendybus BL52ODK back into service on SeaFront 12 whereas in early September, former Big Bus Tours MCW Metrobus F326UJN was returned to service for the first time since 2009 wearing its Nickleodeon all-over advert livery.   (Pictures thanks to Alan Robson)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

July Fleet Update

Former Transdev Dennis Dart 512 (X512UAT) has returned to service today following a much needed repaint which has completely refreshed its appearance after operating since 2012 in ex-Transdev red and grey.
617 (X617JCS) has also returned from Poulton following a repaint but awaits gearbox attention before it enters service whilst work on 163 (V163MVX) is now completed and will allow 163 to return to service later in July.
As a result of 512's return, sister 533 (X533UAT) is now stored awaiting a repanel and paint whilst 163 will replace sister 162 upon entry to service on 22s.
Three recently repainted buses to have received the Catch22Bus fleet livery are ex-Stagecoach 617 and other Darts 163 and 512.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

June 2014 - Fleet Update

At Poulton, work has progressed on the repainting of ex-Stagecoach Dart 617 (X617JCS) which will soon be joining the operational fleet. Meanwhile, 512 (X512UAT) has received panelling repairs ready for repainting.
Returning from overhaul work off-site are Volvo B6 611 (W611CWX) which now awaits a repaint whereas Volvo B7TL 139 (W139EON) has returned from work at Volvo in Liverpool to some electrical & brake components.
On the heritage side, the work programme to return to service and upgrade buses to Class VI standard continues. The programme involves Ribble buses 366, 1805 & 1997 and Lytham buses 34 (Leyland Lion) & PD2 no.70.
617 now taking shape in Catch22 fleet colours

After a long absence, Volvo 611 has returned from brake overhaul work at Optare aftersales in Manchester

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The No.1s travel in two by two...

The end of free concessionary travel on the trams to non-Blackpool passholders was destined to have unintended consequences that were not considered by the decision makers.
Rather than restrict supply to ensure that the tramway does not lose passengers as a result, Council-owned Blackpool Transport has instead increased output on service 1 from Starr Gate to Fleetwood on specific days by running upto 14 buses on the scheduled 20-min service.
The result? Tram operating costs stay the same but revenue reduces. Bus operating costs increase and reimbursement costs for concessionary travel increase for both Blackpool Council and Lancashire County Council. Maybe there is method in the madness, but this was not the intention of abolishing free travel on the trams...
From 08 June, the No.1 will increase from a 20-min to 15-min service.

Unscheduled duplication on service 1 to Fleetwood and even a conductor collecting fares - although in this case not a bus load between them. (Photo: David Hughes)
Two more No.1s together on South Promenade (Photo: David Hughes)

Routemaster 521 returns to the Prom

Former Blackpool Routemaster 521 (583CLT) entered passenger service our Seafront 12 route today. 521 (formerly RM1583 with London Transport) has been in preservation with the since 2003 but is now part of Oakwood Travel's operating fleet. After a protracted period of preparation work for a return to service (it has been off the road since October 2010), 521 has passed its MoT and is now available for wedding hire work and occasional appearances on 12s.
The Promenade it returns to is very different from 521's memories on services 40 & 55 that employed Routemasters from 1988 to 1994. Gone is much of the old heritage tram fleet, the tramway has been completely modernised and the once free flowing Promenade has been slowed by the Council's ill-considered shared space carriageway.
521 (RM1583) was one of a batch of six ex-London Transport AEC Routemasters that were purchased by Blackpool Transport in 1986 for use on their crew operated routes, 521 being the first to enter service. The fleet of Routemasters were used on various routes throughout Blackpool during the 1980s and 90s, but were all sold off to Reading Mainline in 1997.
521 operating along the Promenade recalling the days of Routemasters on sea front services 40 & 55. (Photo: Alan Robson)

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Catch22 Bus Update

Former Stagecoach Chesterfield Dennis Dart 356 is now almost ready to return to passenger service on 22s following mechanical and electrical work, including the fitting of an LED display. The pictures below are posed shots of the completed vehicle.
Meanwhile, Dart 512 & ex-Stagecoach 617 are being prepared for repaint at our Poulton base which is also currently the home on LTT's Ribble Bristol RE no.366 and former Blackpool AEC Swift 570.
In other news, ex-Lothian Olympian 269 returned to service on Promenade route 12 on Saturday 24 May whilst Routemaster RM1583 is now back on the road after a successful MoT pass after being absent from operating fleet since October 2010.
356 posed on Langdale Road at Mereside showing its LED display.
512 at Poulton being partly repaneled before repaint into the new livery.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Getting ready for Summer

With a focus on overhauling and repainting single decks for service 22 well advanced, we are now turning our focus on preparing buses for Promenade service 12 which goes daily from 24 May.

Former Lothian Olympian 269 has had a replacement gearbox fitted and will very soon be back in service whilst further work is in hand on MCW Metrobus F326UJN in its Nickleodeon advert livery.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Catch22 Repaint Update

356 has returned from Poulton today after being repainted out of Stagecoach colours into the new Catch22 Bus fleet livery. There is still work to do before 356 enters service, such as refitting a destination display and fitting new wheels/tyres. Although 356 looks very similar to Dart 143, the longer length and single door configuration provide a contrast.
Replacing 356 at Poulton for repainting are Darts 512 (X512UAT) and 617 (X617JCS) which will become the next two Darts to receive the new colours leaving only Dart 533 (X533UAT) and Volvo B6 611 (W611CWX) of the planned rebranding programme. Darts 145, 162 & 652 are expected to remain in the former CBNW red livery for 2014.
356 posed on Hardhorn Road in Poulton on its return to depot following a full repaint. There is still preparation work to complete before entering service such as refitting destination display and replacing wheels & tyres.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Open top 69 stars in Burnley FC's Premier League promotion

Our open top Metrobus 69 returned to service this weekend on SeaFront 12, but on Sunday 4th May the bus was commissioned by Burnley Football Club for a parade through the town. Burnley fans flooded the streets in their thousands to celebrate "the Clarets’" Premier League promotion triumph.

Fans of all ages lined the streets as the Clarets boarded the bus which then crawled its way from the town hall to Turf Moor. 69 featured on local and national TV and scenes from the parade can be viewed by clicking here.

69 decorated with banners and flags upon arrival at Burnley's Turf Moor stadium after crawling through thousands of fans following the Clarets' Premier League promotion triumph.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dart 143 returns to 22s

Dennis Dart 143 became the second bus in the new Catch22 livery to operate on Saturday 26 April when it returned to 22s after a 7-month absence. The new livery certainly suits this vehicle and is a complete transformation after operating during 2013 in the all-over white livery with hastily applied red front.
MoT preparation work is currently in hand on Dart 163 (V163MVX) whilst recently acquired ex-Stagecoach R356LER is now under repaint. Next for repaints are expected to be ex-Stagecoach X617JCS which is currently receiving panelling repairs and Dart 512 (X512UAT) which has operated in ex-Transdev red and grey livery since acquisition in August 2012.

143 captured on camera crossing the tramway at Cleveleys on its first day back in service since September 2013, wearing the new Catch22Bus fleet livery. (Photo: Alan Robson)

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Work starts on ex-Stagecoach Dart 356

Ex-Stagecoach Dennis Dart 356 looks likely to become the fourth member of the fleet to receive the new Catch22 bus fleet livery. Following minor panelling attention and the fitting of advert frames, 356 is now being rubbed down ready for its new coat of paint.
356 seen on 19 April with work in progress on its repaint.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Volvo 601 returns after makeover

The new Catch22 fleet livery hit the roads today when ex-Harrogate 601 returned to service in its fresh coat of paint after several weeks of operation in the cherry red and butterscotch Transdev colours.
601 had been taken out of service on 27 March for repaint and although the third bus in the fleet to receive the new colours, it is the first to enter service. Dart 143 is expected to return to service very soon following MoT pass this week whilst preparation work on 163 is still in hand.
Volvo 601 at Mereside for the 10:00 departure on service 22 (Photo: David Umpleby)

601 prior to repaint in the Harrogate cherry red and butterscotch livery.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Further ex-Stagecoach Darts acquired

Two further ex-Stagecoach Dennis Darts have joined the fleet, both with Alexander ALX200 bodies but with very different backgrounds. The older of the two is reg R356LER that was new to Stagecoach Cambus (but latterly operated with Stagecoach Yorkshire Traction) whereas the younger is X617JCS, new to Stagecoach Western in Scotland in February 2001, but was later transferred to Stagecoach in Hampshire. Both buses will be repainted in the new Catch22Bus fleet livery before entering service.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Dart 163's makeover complete

Dennis Dart 163's transformation is now almost complete after becoming the second bus to receive the new Catch22 fleet livery of turquoise and orange. It will now undergo MoT preparation for a return to traffic.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Dart 143 returns from Poulton

Dart 143 has returned today from painting at Poulton in the new fleet livery and work will now be completed on the vehicle's MoT preparation that will allow the bus to return to passenger service.
Ex-Harrogate 601 has taken 143's place as the next bus to follow in the repaint programme. The new livery has certainly refreshed 143's appearance, see comparison photo taken in summer of last year.
27 March 2014 and 143 is captured on camera returning from repaint
143 in Bispham Village in summer 2013 (Photo: David Umpleby)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dart 163's repaint takes shape

Ex-Stagecoach Dennis Dart V163MVX is another of our low floor fleet that has been off the road since September of last year, after a troublesome first year since acquisition. Following rewiring work, 163 is now being repainted into the new livery. The amount of orange is reduced compared to Dart 143, accounted for by the shorter length and to avoid the advert frames. We will see what the increased turquoise looks like on the front when complete - this is more akin to the true Cardiff Bus layout - 163 will be a guinea pig for other Plaxton bodied Darts.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Dart 162 finally returns

Our Dart with the lowest mileage operated with us is finally returning to service on "Catch22" after being plagued with electrical problems since acquisition in 2012. The bus has been rewired back to original specification after it was discovered that a series of makeshift repairs had been at the heart of 162's issues.
Following the completion of rewiring 162 has continued Oakwood's 100% MoT pass rate and the bus will return to 22s from 21 March - over six months since it was withdrawn from service.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

143 makeover complete

The first Dennis Dart to be treated to the new "Catch22Bus" fleet livery is now completed and has completely transformed bus 143 from its all-white livery that it has operated in since acquisition early in 2013. The turquoise and orange livery looks superb and the second repaint, that of Dart 163, is now underway.
Former Metroline 143 now awaits MoT test but the new liveried buses will not be entering service on Catch22 until April.

New logo for Catch22

We are introducing a new logo/fleetname for buses allocated to "Catch22" which will generally be applied to those buses selected to receive the new turquoise and orange fleet livery. However, two of the Dennis Darts which were sprayed in London red in 2013 and still look very smart (Darts 145/162) have also received it. Dart 145's first day with the new logo was on 18 March.
Dart 145 poses on Anchorsholme Lane showing its new "Catch22Bus" logo

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Low-floor decker joins the fleet

Former London United VA103, an Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo BT7L new in March 2000, joined the fleet today on a trial period from Ripley (dealer). We are looking at purchasing a couple of low floor double decks for use on services 12, 22 and on the Red Rocket Express as necessary and need to assess fuel consumption, particularly since recently withdrawn Volvo Olympian 915 fuel costs topped £1.03 per mile!!
VA103 was once part of a 19-strong batch of Volvo B7TLs delivered to London United and operated in the Hounslow and Kingston areas of their network. The batch has been either stored or operated in the reserve fleet (Rail Replacement work etc) in recent years but recently the batch has been sold.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Contraflow Bus Lane on Central Drive

Back in 1993 as a student at Manchester College of Arts & Technology studying for my CIT Transport Manager qualifications, all students had to produce three case studies each year. One of mine was "Bus Priority for Blackpool" and this highlighted areas where buses experienced delays and where priority measures could assist. One of the areas was Central Drive where a contraflow bus lane was proposed to avoid buses having to do the Albert Road, Coronation Street, Reads Avenue navigation. The final report was handed to Tony Depledge, MD at Blackpool Transport and, of course, my boss at the time.
It was therefore with some excitement that I drove along the new contra-flow bus lane along Central Drive today, 21 years later!

Friday, 28 February 2014

We're having the painters in!

Over the next few weeks, we've literally got the painters in. We are applying a new livery to our service bus fleet for the "Catch 22" single decks and Darts 143 & 163 are to be the first to receive this. The new livery has been inspired by Cardiff Bus and their orange and turquoise livery. Your writer worked with Cardiff Bus from 2000 to 2003 redesigning their bus network into a series of simplified, high frequency links. I look forward to seeing the painters efforts over the next few weeks.
Dart 143 following repaneling and in-house mechanical work, posed at the Shrine near Victoria Hospital on its way to Poulton. It will be the first bus to receive the new Catch22 bus livery of orange & turquoise.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Does my bus look big in this?

Bendybus MAL53 (BL52ODK) is back in service again on the Catch 22 route. The Citaro was initially trialled in passenger service on the 22 route back on 20th January, but has been off the road in the interim having a few problems resolved. The bus has now been fitted with vinyl lettering over the destination box which reads "Mereside Cleveleys via Town Centre 22" and the Bendy is likely to make regular appearances on the 22 until the "Red Rocket" express service resumes at Easter. Although not intended for the 22, its use allows a greater low floor presence on the service whilst work is in hand on various Dennis Darts / Volvo buses and it prevents storage over the winter months.

Monday, 24 February 2014

More attention for Darts

Darts 143, 162 & 163 are currently all receiving attention after being off-road since MoT expiry in September of last year. Darts 143 has been repaneled and treated to mechanical overhaul and will be the first bus to receive the new "Catch22" livery.
Darts 162 & 163, acquired from dealer Ensignbus in August 2012 for the start of service 22, have been particularly troublesome buses, with 162 plagued with electrical problems. For the last few weeks, 162 has been receiving attention at Hattons of St.Helens and hopefully the bus will soon rejoin the operational Blackpool fleet. It has not yet been decided whether 162 will get the new "Catch22" livery before it finally returns to service.
Dart 162 (V162MVX) following collection from Hattons after rewiring work.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Our Mercedes Bends around the 22!

With the Red Rocket service not expected to restart before Easter, we have decided to keep the buses active where possible and to this end MAL53 was prepared for a test operating day on service 22. Last week the bus was driven around the route to test clearances and passed with tolerance even on the tightest turns in the Claremont area.
From 20 January, a bendy will be allocated to the 07:40 departure from Mereside which coincides with a busy northbound run to Cleveleys, with the vehicle returning to depot just before 18:00.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Fleet Changes

We have made a few changes to the bus fleet recently to thin out vehicles no longer required in the fleet and return to the road some stored vehicles needed for service 22.
Volvo B6 No.601 has finally been submitted and passed its MoT and will be pressed into use on service 22, whereas sister bus 611 is away for MoT work and is earmarked to become the first bus treated to a new colour scheme for buses allocated to 22s. Also sent away for electrical work is Dart 162, which has been off the road since September along with Darts 143 & 163 which will follow in the overhaul process.
Buses leaving the fleet recently are Olympian 324 (N324NHG) now with Red Bus Days in Keighley and Volvo B10M no.899 (R899XVM).

All change at Classic Bus

Oakwood Travel Services Ltd purchased the assets and goodwill of Classic Bus North West Ltd on 31 December and although this means no immediate upheaval for passengers on our "Catch22" bus service and the wedding/private hire business, there will be changes introduced over the coming months to give service 22 a new identity.
Behind the scenes, the day-to-day management has been strengthened by the appointment of David Hughes as Transport Manager. David has a long career in transport, starting at Blackpool Transport but with experience at Transport for London before becoming a VOSA Compliance Officer back in the North West region. After a few years working in Spain, David has returned to Blackpool and will be taking over the day-to-day operations at Oakwood Travel.