Free fares chaos on trams

Opening of new tramway from Starr Gate in Blackpool to Fleetwood
Opening of new tramway from Starr Gate in Blackpool to Fleetwood
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FRUSTRATED residents today branded the launch of the resort’s multi-million pound tramway “atrocious.”

Passengers love the new trams but say there are not enough conductors, running times need to be longer, stops are not open and stop request buttons not working.

After four years of work, Blackpool’s new tramway finally opened for business last Tuesday – just in time for the Easter rush – and appeared to be the victim of its own success.

Transport bosses today admitted the timing was ‘unfortunate’ and they had only managed one practice run before the launch.

Pat Bower, of Milburn Avenue, Cleveleys, said: “My friend and I rode a new tram from Thornton Gate to Starr Gate, there were five carriages and just one conductor.

“Within a few stops, the five carriages were packed way beyond capacity, they resembled the underground at peak times in London.”

John Garnham added: “It was atrocious, there was one conductor and hundreds of people, they must have lost a lot of money because people couldn’t pay.

“The stop buttons weren’t working and people were having to rush down the tram to ask the conductor to stop, it was chaotic.”

Resident Keith Oxley described the situation as a ‘travesty’ after years of planning.

He said: “The tram was a superb ride and I enjoyed the experience immensely, but that I am afraid was the good bit.

“The tram stood at Starr Gate for a full 20 minutes before departure and according to the time table would spend 15 minutes at Fleetwood before returning, a lot of time wasted by wage earning staff.

“Who is responsible for this travesty after having years to plan this wonderful new opportunity?”

Trevor Roberts, of Blackpool Transport, said it would use the last few days as a learning curve.

He said: “On some trams we did have two conductors but we only had a certain time to recruit in advance and we will now look at how we can support the route in the future.

“In a way launching at Easter was unfortunate because it was going to be so busy but it was a case of do it now or call it off. We were expecting teething glitches and apologise for those but we hope we can smooth them out.

“We also only had time for one practice run when we were expecting two or three weeks.”

The first tram to carry fare-paying customers was derailed by sand in Fleetwood after the launch last week.