State-of-art trams are success story for resort

Packed out Blackpool tram.
Packed out Blackpool tram.
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BLACKPOOL’S state-of-the-art new tram system was undoubtedly one of the main successes for the town in 2012.

Latest figures show almost 2.9 million passengers boarded Blackpool’s trams between April and November, including more than one million during the Illuminations.

Figures from Blackpool Transport show 2,882,124 people have jumped on board the new trams, which relaunched in April.

Numbers peaked during October when 562,714 passengers used the service but usage dropped in November, at the end of the tourist season, to 270,530.

Nevertheless transport chiefs said they were pleased with the performance of the £100m new system.

Trevor Roberts, managing director of Blackpool Transport, said: “It has been an exciting start to the new light rail transit system and one on which we are looking forward to building upon.

“We are currently reviewing the operations of 2012 to see what levels of service should be provided next year.

“Naturally the patronage levels have gone quieter following the end of the Illuminations and it will be interesting to review the usage around the Christmas period and how it develops into the New Year.”

The figures show 165,392 passengers were carried in April, 221,747 in May, 263,003 in June, 409,761 in July, 489,537 in August, 499,440 in September, 562,714 in October, and 270,530 in November, giving a total of 2,882,124 for the eight months.

The last time the system ran for a full year, it carried a total of 2.3 million passengers over a 12 month period in 2008 and 2009.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for transport on Blackpool Council, said: “Nearly three million passengers is fantastic and shows we were right in bringing in this investment.

“What we need now is for local people to get on board and think of using the trams to commute between Blackpool and Fleetwood.”

Stephen Brookes, of the Blackpool Passenger Focus Group, said: “It does demonstrate government investment in our area is both important and successful.

“Given that the whole system has been a learning curve for Blackpool Transport and for system manufacturer Bombardier, as a local user group we are pleased with the results, and hope the one key problem of overcrowding, albeit caused by success, can be reviewed in planning timings and additional use of the modified ‘older’ trams for the 2013 tourism season.”