Blackpool turns to island for buses

Isle of Man buses in Bus Vannin livery, like those bought by Blackpool Transport
Isle of Man buses in Bus Vannin livery, like those bought by Blackpool Transport
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TRANSPORT chiefs in Blackpool have turned to the Isle of Man in order to boost the resort’s bus fleet.

Bosses at Blackpool Transport must upgrade the fleet to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), and found 28 buses out of their total of 147 were non-compliant.

With brand new buses costing up to £200,000 each, bosses have purchased 15 second hand vehicles from the island instead, which are currently being refurbished.

It has cost about £50,000 per bus to buy and upgrade it, and some are already in service.

Passenger transport companies must ensure all single deckers meet DDA requirements by 2015, with double deckers to be compliant by 2017.

Managing director of Blackpool Transport Trevor Roberts said: “It was a new approach for us to look at buying a vehicle and refurbishing it to the extent we have done.

“If the other buses turn out as well, which I am sure they will, we’ll have made a really good improvement to the Blackpool fleet.

“The crux is we get over 2017 and still have a fleet on the road.

“We couldn’t have financed an acquisition that size new.”

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The Isle of Man has purchased 24 new Mercedes Benz buses after the Manx government approved spending of £1.88m for replacement vehicles.

But it says its new fleet will cost less to maintain and be more fuel efficient. There were not the same facilities on the island to carry out the maintenance required, compared to on the mainland.

But bus user Alan Riley, of Red Bank Road, Bispham, claimed Blackpool was being expected to “make do with clapped out buses”.

He added: “It would appear that these old buses, while not in a fit condition for the residents of the Isle of Man, will do for us locals here in Blackpool.”

Alan Reid, chairman of the Blackpool Disability Partnership, said: “We are in an era where there is very little money about so we have to be realistic, and Blackpool Transport is being very proactive in its approach.

“Buses are a lifeline for disabled people.”

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