Bus services’ double delay in roadworks

A Catch22 bus
A Catch22 bus
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A bus boss is warning of traffic chaos having seen his company’s services seriously disrupted by roadworks.

Phlip Higgs, of Catch22, revealed it was taking some services more than 45 minutes to cross the town centre last week when two sets of temporary lights caused near gridlock.

Works by Electricity North West at Talbot Square caused queuing traffic in both directions along the Promenade last week.

Temporary lights have now been removed but there are fears delays could return – particularly with plans in place to extend the tramway up Talbot Road.

The issues on the Prom were made worse by work on Albert Road, where traffic lights are being replaced.

And Mr Higgs is concerned the two schemes were allowed to take place at the same time, having seen his company’s number 22 services badly hit.

“It defies logic,” he said.
“I had drivers finishing 45 minutes late.

“We diverted services away from the Promenade because it was so bad.

“But on Central Drive the traffic was backed up all the way to Revoe Library.

“If you are a motorist you can go a different way to avoid the jams but buses can’t do that.”

Catch22 last week extended the 22 service to Fleetwood.

Mr Higgs admitted there had been complaints from those who weren’t aware of the ‘carnage’ in Blackpool.

“We’ve been chastised for running a poor service but there is a reason,” he said. “It’s just carnage.”

Mr Higgs is now looking to divert services away from the Prom on a permanent basis.

“The temporary lights have gone but I believe they may be set to return this week,” he said.

“The Promenade doesn’t allow us to plan services.

“You can’t predict how long it is going to take to drive along – some days it might take three minutes, other days, when it’s busy, half an hour.

“There are so many crossings, which just make the situation worse.

“We know there is more work planned at Talbot Square and I hope it is handled better.”

Blackpool Council said the works at Talbot Square had over-run, contributing to last week’s problems and that the scheme had been completed to take account of future tram line works.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for municipal assets, said: “Where possible, we always try and plan large highways works outside of the tourist season. We’ve done that recently on Yeadon Way and Seasiders Way and the work on Talbot Square was also due to be completed before the school holidays.

“On this occasion, Electricity North West’s work has overrun but we have tried to reduce the impact on traffic by removing the temporary lights over the weekend and asking for lights to be personally manned so that they can be changed based on demand.

“While this work is to relocate a sub-station, we have agreed for it to be completed in a way that means it won’t need to be re-done when the tramway extension work starts, reducing the impact on Talbot Square in the future.

“I appreciate that this work is frustrating for drivers who are caught in it and am grateful for their patience.”

Mr Higgs did have more positive news for passengers in North Fylde, saying Catch22 was close to agreeing with Lancashire County Council to increase services on the new 24 route between Cleveleys and Poulton.

Following the withdrawal of Stagecoach-operated services 86 and 84, which were funded by County Hall, the number of departures from Cleveleys has been drastically reduced. Mr Higgs is hoping to be able to operate services every 20 minutes along the route through Thornton.