Plans for Â£16m bus fleet boost for Fylde Coast
A Â£16.2m investment in public transport means the Fylde Coast will boast an entire fleet of 126 new buses by 2020.
Blackpool Transport is due to take delivery of its next 20 new vehicles next month as part of an ambitious project to upgrade the resort’s transport network.
Those buses will initially be used to keep passengers moving when electrification work forces the line from Blackpool to Preston to shut for 19 weeks from November.
Blackpool Council is set to approve a loan of £16.2m over 10 years to the bus company, which it owns, to enable delivery of 72 buses between now and 2020.
The authority has already loaned Blackpool Transport £7.7m for 35 new buses while the company has bought 19 buses itself.
Managing director of Blackpool Transport Jane Cole said: “By the end of 2020 the entire fleet of 126 buses will have been replaced and everyone will be able to travel on a bus which is modern, fully accessible, clean and extremely comfortable.
“We take delivery of 20 new vehicles next month which will be used to transport people between Blackpool and Preston when the rail line closes for electrification in November this year.
“This will ensure that customers get a great travel experience and that people are not deterred from using public transport to visit the resort.
“These buses will then be put into service on the route seven and 11 in April 2018.”
Councillors will meet on Monday to confirm the loan.
The council receives an annual dividend of £1m from Blackpool Transport as the only shareholder.
Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn, said: “This is more good news for Blackpool and continues the drive to improve the quality of public transport serving the town and the wider area.
“Continued investment is needed to revitalise the service given that many buses in the fleet are becoming tired and costly to run.
“The new buses will be more reliable, more environmentally friendly and more economic to operate. We also anticipate that a more modern fleet will attract new users.
“This loan structure is a sensible solution. It will allow Blackpool Transport to complete its bus replacement plans very quickly without having to lease vehicles at a higher cost or source more expensive alternative funding.”
The new buses will help improve air quality by having cleaner engines.
Currently around five per cent of deaths in Blackpool can be attributed to air pollution.
The vehicles will also be more reliable and efficient, saving money on maintenance.
The Palladium buses offer features including Wifi, extra luggage space and wheelchair space. Overall the bus fleet will reduce by 12 to 126 vehicles, which is possible because the new vehicles better match the routes they serve, and are more reliable.