Sunday, 20 December 2015

Ride 898 before it semi retires

Ex-Stagecoach Volvo PS 898 will go into enforced semi retirement after 31 December when rules on accessibility come into force, meaning only low floor buses can be used on stage carriage services. As a final swan song, 898 will be employed on service 12 (Pleasure Beach to Cleveleys) on the week prior to New Year's Day (the 12 has been registered to operate one week between Christmas and New Year).
898 joined us back in autumn of 2012 and received red livery from December when it joined sister bus 899 in the operational fleet. It has been a very reliable bus and so current plans are to keep 898 which maybe added to the private hire fleet.

End of Year Fleet Update

Following on from the acquisition of Dennis Dart SPD 362 from Cardiff Bus in September, sister buses 363/365/366/369 & 371 were added to the fleet during October and November. 365 & 371 were re-sprayed in red livery for use on the seasonal Red Rocket Express service whereas 363, 366 & 369 are currently in store awaiting partial repanel and painting in 2016.
Dennis Dart MPD news is that both 147 (T147DAX) and 474 (W474UAG) both returned to service in November in fleet livery; 474 entered service on 01 November having been acquired from Walsall Community Transport back in August. 144 (T144DAX) has received an all-over wrap for Dominos Pizza whereas 657/658 (V657/658HEC) are currently out of service for MoT and refurbishment work.
Ex-Arriva Dart V234HBH and ex-Metroline T143AUA are both considered withdrawn.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

O Caerdydd i Blackpool II

Three further Cardiff Dennis Dart SPDs are joining the fleet and the first of these, 362 (W362VHB) made the journey north to Blackpool on 23 Sept and has already been prepared for service with Catch22Bus. The SPDs will replace the last of the ex-London dual-doored Darts 143 (T143AUA) and 512 (X512UAT) and indeed 512 has already made the journey to Barnsley where it is destined for scrap.
362 on Leckwith Road in Cardiff following collection and ready for the 220 mile journey north to Blackpool.

Posed at Blackpool alongside Central Drive and with the Tower in the background.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Fleet News Update

Ex-Cardiff Dennis Dart 147 (T147DAX) has returned today from respray into fleet livery after having a replacement engine fitted. 147 has been out of service since April.
Replacing it at the painters is 474 (W474UAG) which will also receive fleet livery following acquisition from Walsall Community Transport, but was previously East Yorkshire Motor Services and is part of the same batch as 466 & 468 already in the fleet (some of the batch are still operating with EYMS).
147 rests at Stafford services on the M6 on its return journey to Blackpool.

474 prior to delivery for repaint.

Atlantean 334 goes to the Zoo

Another former Blackpool Corporation Transport vehicle made its debut on the heritage bus operated Service 21 this week. 1980 East Lancashire bodied Leyland Atlantean 334 (AHG 334V) made its first outing on the 21 to Blackpool Zoo on Tuesday, resplendent in full Blackpool green and cream livery as applied in 2007 following restoration by "the Busworks" in Blackpool. Atlantean 334, owned by the Lancastrian Transport Trust has been out of service since 2010.
Recently Catch22Bus, in partnership with LTT, has had the radiator replaced, the brakes fully overhauled and other work undertaken prior to being submitted for Class VI MoT at Preston.
334 on Adelaide Street in a scene so typical of 1980 when the bus was new to Blackpool. (Photo: Alan Robson)

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Fleet update

A further Dennis Dart MPD has been acquired and is related to two already in the fleet. 474 (W474UAG) has been purchased from Walsall Community Transport and is receiving a replacement gearbox in Wolverhampton before it joins us. Following this work, 474 is likely to be resprayed in fleet livery once ex-Cardiff MPD 147 is completed.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Summer Fleet News

After the heritage update, here is some summer fleet news...
Ex-Cardiff Dart 147 (T147DAX) has been sent away for a replacement engine and from there will go for respray into Catch22 fleet colours. Sister buses 144/145 may possibly be getting all-over adverts, which is the reason they are still operating in their Select of Swansea livery of all-over white.
319 was expected to receive an all-over wrap for the summer but for expediency has received side panel adverts for the Pleasure Beach "Hot Ice" and "Christian Farla" shows.
Ex-Diamond bus Dart 657 (V657HEC) retains blue livery but is likely to be repainted upon return of 147.
Ex-Stagecoach Trident 51 (LX51FNJ) entered service with us on 4th August after a lengthy period of Mot preparation (delayed by having to separate engine/gearbox due to leaking main oil seal). It is likely to retain London red for the foreseeable future with a few corporate hires booked that require a modern London red bus. Indeed, look out for 51 in a forthcoming advert for a new Santander phone app!
After an absence whilst some work was done on the bus off-site, stalwart Volvo B10M 898 (R898XVM) has returned to service after passing its MoT. Due to DDA regulations, 898 will no longer be used on stage carriage operations after 31 December. Other forthcoming withdrawals may include dual door Darts 143 (T143AUA) and 512 (X512UAT).
Cream liveried ex-Cardiff Dart 319, now with side panel adverts for Pleasure Beach shows.

Trident 51 on service 22 at Bispham roundabout (Photo: Alan Robson)

Catch22 - Heritage Bus update

Well I am sure a lot of you have read various stories recently about our operation, but given that it is regarded as sub judice, I will not go any further into this, but will instead update readers with the interesting stuff!
On the heritage front, Ribble 1997 was refitted with its overhauled Gardner engine after a £3,500+ reconditioning and has finally returned to passenger service for the first time since withdrawn by First Western National back in 2002. We are using it on private hires and Zoo service 21.
Another recent addition to the hire fleet is Blackpool PD3 516 which has been absent in passenger use since it became a driver trainer bus in 1984. After removal of the training modifications, 516 was resprayed in the red/white Blackpool colours of the 1930s which was applied to sister buses 507 & 516. Again, the bus has joined our private hire operation but was used for the first time on Zoo service 21 on 19 August with its period style Tigerrific adverts.
Sadly, PD3 529 (on loan from LTT) sustained roof damage on a private hire early in August and is now stored awaiting repairs which will be undertaken during the winter. Routemaster RM1583 is also absent awaiting a new engine (its AEC unit failed and is beyond repair) whilst Ribble RE 366 has been away for attention to engine oil leaks but has now returned.
529 returning from the Zoo before it sustained roof damage which now awaits repairs. (All pictures Alan Robson)

Ribble 1997 leaves the Stanley Park on its way to the Zoo

516 heads to the Zoo showing its new Tigerrific adverts.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Here comes Summer!

Although the weather has yet to catch up, summer is here and yesterday "SeaFront 12" resumed for the 2015 season operating between Pleasure Beach and Cleveleys, except on Sundays when buses terminate at Uncle Tom's Cabin. Darts 316 & 319 have been dedicated to 12s, along with open tops 69 & 326 which retain there wrapped adverts for Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Our new service 21 also started today and operates five days per week between the Tower, Stanley Park & Blackpool Zoo. It is proposed to use heritage buses on the route when availability permits, drawing on the Class VI tested buses from the LTT collection, as well as those owned by us.
In other news, Nuttalls Coaches has been acquired on a debt free, cash free, asset free basis and in consultation with leading transport solicitors Backhouse Jones, the operation of services 12 & 21 have been sub-contracted to this licence holder using vehicles and staff seconded from Catch22Bus Ltd. This arrangement has been notified to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, the regulatory body for bus and coach services.
First day in service for 316 on 12s. (Photo: Alan Robson)

Monday, 11 May 2015

May - Fleet update

Ex-Select of Swansea (but previously Cardiff Bus) Dennis Darts 144 & 145 have both entered service in all-white livery of their former operator whilst Darts 316 & 319 are now both MoT ready.
Trident LX51FNJ is also being prepared for MoT.
Meanwhile, Dart 356 has left the fleet for a new life with a Peterborough based driver training company.
Trident "51" is being prepared for MoT and entry into service.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Catch22 gets "Living Wage" accredited

Catch22Bus has achieved accreditation from The Living Wage Foundation for paying its staff more than the UK Living Wage rate of £7.85 per hour. All staff are actually paid in excess of £8.00 per hour, with bus drivers working for us for over 12 months now earning £8.20 per hour.

Blackpool tops the list of poor pay blackspots according to a study on the living wage and so Catch22Bus is proud of being able to achieve accreditation. Over 50% of the jobs in some Blackpool wards pay less than the living wage; the current national minimum wage is £6.50 an hour.

A spokeswoman for the Living Wage Foundation commented that "We are delighted to add a further employer to the list of Blackpool businesses that have been accredited as paying a Living Wage in an area that is typically characterised by low paid seasonal employment".

Director Philip Higgs added that "We have worked hard to develop the business over the last year and our staff are critical to that success. Paying a Living Wage is good for business, good for our staff and their families and good for the local economy".

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

London Trident joins the fleet

As a direct replacement for Volvo B7TL No.139 sold last month, former Stagecoach London Dennis Trident 17506 (LX51FNJ) has joined the fleet today. New in October 2001, it was one of a batch of 22 low floor Tridents and latterly operated at Catford garage where it was withdrawn in February this year. Others from the same batch are still in service with Stagecoach, for example some are in Manchester on Magicbus branded services, some were converted to open top and others allocated to reserve fleet for use as Rail Replacement or Shuttle buses for large events (such as Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and more locally the Grand National at Aintree).
"51" is likely to retain London red livery for the foreseeable future with a couple of summer corporate hire contracts requiring a 'red' bus where advertising and other branding will be applied for the duration of the contract.

17506 (LX51FNJ) during its last month of operation with Stagecoach in London.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Mwy o efeilliaid Caerdydd!

Another pair of Twins has been acquired by Catch22Bus, this time a further pair of ex-Cardiff Dennis Dart MPDs. Recently withdrawn by Select Bus of Swansea following the acquisition of this business by New Adventure Travel, T144DAX & T145DAX will join their cousins at Catch22Bus including T147DAX.
144 made the journey north to Blackpool today with 145 expected to follow next week. Like Catch22Bus, Select of Swansea has acquired a collection of Dennis Darts and all have been recently retrimmed with blue moquette seating.
[Above] 144 & 145 posed together at Select's depot in Neath, Swansea before 144 departs for the 200+ mile journey to Blackpool. [Below] The bright blue retrimmed seating on Select's Darts.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Cardiff 316 arrives in Blackpool

Ex-Cardiff Bus "Super Pointer Dart" 316 (S316SHB) has arrived with us after respray into fleet colours whilst Arriva MPD 3234 (V234HBH) was collected from their Aylesbury garage depot today and driven north to Blackpool.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Fleet Update

Today (7th April) is the last day in operation for double deck Volvo 139 (W139EON) after being sold for further use to a Staffordshire based company; it is destined to become a mobile classroom. We are looking at some newer ex-London Dennis Trident double deckers as a possible replacement. Also due to leave the fleet soon is Dart 356 (R356LER) which will be withdrawn and replaced in service by repainted ex-Cardiff Dart S316SHB.

A further MPD has been acquired, this time from Arriva The Shires and is due to be collected from their Aylesbury depot, although it latterly operated at Milton Keynes. It is their former 3234 (V234HBH).
Arriva The Shires 3234 in service at Milton Keynes in January 2015.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Rear end Sixes adverts

The first of a series of rear end promotional adverts for Catch22Bus services has been applied to Dennis Dart MPD 658 today. This vehicle is dedicated to service 6 and has received this eye-grabbing promotional advert for the service with further route branding to be applied. Other individual rear end adverts are to be applied to the re-sprayed MPDs.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Dart 468 returns after makeover

Former EYMS W468UAG has returned from respray into Catch22Bus fleet livery and looks much improved after operating for a short time with us in its ex-Whittle green & white livery. 468 will go straight back into service. It has adopted a slightly revised layout to the livery with a 45 degree line separating the orange and turquoise and this will become standard for future repaints.
Next to be returned from respray will be ex-Cardiff S316SHB which is in course of preparation, having been delivered to the painters straight from being collected from its previous owners in Cornwall.
Other fleet news involves Dart MPD 466 which is currently away for MoT work whilst after a very brief return to service, 512 is soon to be sent away for a replacement rear axle.
468 after arriving back at Blackpool following respray.
468 showing the ex-Whittle green & white livery in which the bus operated for a few weeks until being repaneled & resprayed. (Photo: Alan Robson)

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Catch22 invited to contribute to 2015 Parliamentary Review

Catch22Bus has been invited to contribute to this year's "Parliamentary Review" in a new project aimed at raising awareness of issues facing the transport sector. There is certainly a lot going on in the public transport sector with a review of the regulatory role and talk of devolving powers for the franchising of bus services to local authorities, particularly in metropolitan areas.

Former Cabinet Minister, the Rt Hon David Curry said in a letter to Philip Higgs, " I would like to invite Catch22Bus to appear as one of our experts in this year's inaugural Transport Review. If you choose to be involved, I will work with you on your submission".

The Transport Review will relate to a series of documents, entitled The Parliamentary Review, which are headed up by the Prime Minister, The Chancellor of the Exchequer and numerous Cabinet and senior ministers.

Friday, 27 February 2015

More Cardiff cousins join the fleet

Two further Dennis Darts have been purchased to join the Catch22Bus fleet and both originated from Cardiff Bus. They are 1999 registered 316 (S316SHB) and 319 (S319SHB). The pair were withdrawn by Cardiff Bus in September 2014 and were sold to Webbers Coaches of Bodmin, Cornwall for a local bus service contract. However, due to their long length they proved unsuitable for some of the tight Cornish roads on the route and both were withdrawn, although not before 319 had been resprayed in Webber's all-cream fleet livery. They were replaced by MPD Dart acquired from Cardiff Bus, 177 (X177CTG) which is related to our own example from the batch, 186.
The two 11.metre "Super Pointer Darts" were collected this week, with 316 (partially rubbed down for respray) taken direct to the West Midlands for painting in Catch22 colours whilst 319 has been brought direct to Blackpool for the time being. Both 316 & 319 are intended for summer use only.
In other fleet news, ex-EYMS 466 has arrived in Blackpool following repaint and now awaits MoT preparation and test pass before it enters service.
Cream painted 319 at Webbers Coaches next to 316.

316 had been prepared to respray into Webber's cream livery before it was decided to dispose of the pair and replace with MPDs better suited to the tight turns and country lanes that typify many rural Cornwall bus services.

Dennis Dart MPD 177 was acquired from Cardiff Bus by Webbers in January to replace the 11m SPDs and this has entered service on the Bodmin contract in Cardiff Bus livery.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

658 returns from respray

Dennis Dart MPD 658 returned from its quick-turnaround repaint yesterday and has received graphics and destination stickers for service 6. It is expected to enter service on "Sixes" on Friday 20th February, allowing Whittle liveried 468 to be taken off service for repanelling and repaint. Sister bus 466 is almost ready for collection and will arrive in Blackpool next week in Catch22Bus colours.
As Darts 657 & 658 are expected to be dedicated to Sixes, they will soon receive promotional route branding for the service.
Other Dart news is that X512UAT has been purchased off the leasing company and will return to service.
Former Diamond Bus but previously Blackburn Transport / Lancashire United Dennis Dart 658, now ready to enter service on "Sixes". 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Another pair of Twins!

We have had a habit of delivering twins in recent years, or at least cousins from the same batch of buses and the latest two Dennis Dart MPDs are no exception. V657/658HEC were delivered new to Blackburn Transport in January 2000 as part of a batch of ten, nos.651-660. The pair have operated together throughout their lives, being sold to Rotala for their WessexConnect operation in Bath, before being transferred to the Diamond Bus operation in Kidderminster. Both have been purchased by Catch22Bus to replace other Darts returned off lease. 658 was the first to be collected but has been sent straight for repainting in our fleet livery.
The twins have been separated for a time because 657 will operate for a few weeks in the Diamond dark blue livery until other MPDs enter service in the new livery.  Darts 466 & 658 are currently being resprayed and the next Dart to be treated will be ex-EYMS 468 which is currently in service wearing its Whittle green & white livery. Once 658 arrives in Blackpool it is planned to partially repanel 468.

658 upon collection from Kidderminster and delivery run to be resprayed in Catch22Bus fleet livery. Both 657 & 658 last operated with Diamond on 9th February - indeed they were brought off service for collection!! 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Further MPDs join the fleet

Further Dennis Dart MPDs have joined the fleet to replace buses returned off-lease and the most recent purchases are ex-EYMS W466/468UAG new in April 2000. Both formed part of a 19-strong batch of 29-seater MPDs delivered to EYMS and both were latterly allocated to the Whittle subsidiary in Kidderminster, which has recently been sold.
466 was collected from Hull and despatched straight for respray in Catch22Bus fleet livery whereas 468 has been brought to Blackpool and will operate for a short period in its current livery until other MPDs are repainted.
Two other MPDs have been purchased from Rotala-owned Diamond Buses but will not be released by them until next week and a further Cardiff example should arrive later in March.
Snow on the ground in Hull on 4th Feb when 466/468 were collected from EYMS.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

O Caerdydd i Blackpool

No, my spell checker has not gone wild or suffering from sticky keyboard syndrome! Ex-Cardiff Dart 186 was collected from Cardiff yesterday and driven to Blackpool and it will enter service tomorrow. These buses have certainly been well looked after by Cardiff Bus and it is possible another MPD (Mini Pointer Dart) will join us in March.
The acquisition of further Darts forms part of a policy of returning buses off-lease that were acquired from Classic Bus North West in December 2013 and replacing them with vehicles owned outright by Catch22Bus. As such a number of buses will be leaving the fleet by the end of January.
Cardiff Dennis Dart 186 upon collection from Cardiff Bus on 13 Jan.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

New Year update

A further Dennis Dart will soon be joining the fleet, but this will be acquired direct from Cardiff Bus and is therefore already in our matching fleet colours; it is former Cardiff 186 (X186CTG). This vehicle now awaits collection and is expected to enter service with Catch22Bus straight away.
Cardiff Dart 186 prior to withdrawal and replacement by 10 new Enviro 200s. 186 now awaits collection from Cardiff Bus.
Former Cardiff Dart 147 already in the fleet has had some orange applied to the front end and may enter service otherwise in the old Cardiff turquoise and cream livery, but is expected to soon receive an all-over advert livery for a 6-month contract. Volvo B7TL no.139 is also expected to receive a vinyl-wrapped all-over advert prior to Easter but is presently still operating in its faded London red.
Volvo Olympian 325 (N325NHG) is now considered withdrawn. The future operation of step entrance buses is being considered.