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As Covid-19 virus restrictions have now eased, it is hoped that people will return to using public transport freely and that more will join them. Continued home working and the virus's economic impact will have unpredictable transport consequences. As a consequence of changed working patterns, operators have made flexible fare products available, complementing existing season products. The government's £2 flat fare scheme will continue to he end of June 2023.
In line with its climate emergency, transport and planning policies, the council is keen to promote sustainable travel modes (public transport, cycling and walking) with the public realm, de-congesting and air quality benefits this has. Nevertheless motor vehicles are an important part of the Blackpool economy and a well maintained and functioning road network is a central corporate aim.
The overall aim is to ensure that both visitors and residents can get to and move around the resort freely, using a variety of transport modes. A modal shift to sustainable modes will assist the council in achieving its net zero goal.
Blackpool Council aims to control congestion, improve the public realm, reduce pollution and decrease accidents on the town's roads by managing traffic effectively. This means working with local transport operators and agencies, making Blackpool better for residents and businesses. Effective transport systems are essential to the resort's economy and vital to its regeneration, particularly as new developments including the Talbot Gateway, a new civil service building accommodating 3,000 workers and a town centre Multiversity development, and the Blackpool Central project come on stream. These town centre developments are at the heart of the bus and tramway network and convenient for Blackpool North railway station, reducing the need for people to drive and park for work.
Up to 18 million visits per year are made to enjoy the town's attractions, coming from all over the country and beyond, for which reason the resort needs high quality access to national transport networks. On arrival, visitors must have excellent gateways to encourage repeat visits and investment.
A local transport plan implementation strategy document [PDF 292 KB] explains what the council's transport policies are. The current plan came into force in 2018 and will continue to apply until a new Local Transport Plan is developed during 2023. The strategy addresses the needs of all transport modes and their users. Also, the council has worked with Lancashire County Council to develop a fylde coast transport masterplan [PDF 2.08MB]. The new plan will address the considerable development that has occurred since its predecessor was written and the transport consequences of that development.
It is challenging to fit all the facilities that are needed - bus stops, taxi ranks, on-street parking, cycle parking, loading bays, pedestrian crossings etc - into what is a densely built-up place.
The Local Transport Plan programme (LTP) includes schemes to repair roads, footpaths and bridges to the value of resources available of around £1 million per annum. These have been insufficient to prevent decline in recent years. The council continues to look for extra money to pay for repairs and reverse this situation. A successful bid for additional government monies resulted in the Project Amber programme, using innovative technology to secure Blackpool's roads.
Traffic lights are managed under the Community Lighting Partnership. Any faults with traffic lights or pedestrian/cycle crossings can be reported here. The Local Transport Plan apportions resources to upgrade road junctions and traffic control systems.
government makes additional funding available for specific purposes such as repairing pot holes or responding to the damage that severe winter weather can cause. £667k has been made available to repair potholes during the financial year 2022/2023
The council has worked with Lancashire County Council to develop a Rights of Way Improvement Plan [PDF 880KB] . This runs between 2015 and 2025.
Good transport links with the national economy are crucial to encouraging inward investment into Blackpool. Residents and businesses need good access to workplaces, shops, schools, education, health care and roads or public transport services to neighbouring towns. When any large developments are proposed in Blackpool, the council assesses what transport arrangements will be made throughout the duration of the works and after they have finished, as part of the planning process.
The council has worked with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to implement the Town Centre Quality Corridors (TCQC) scheme, which has improved the town centre public realm. Church Street, Cookson Street, Dickson Road, Topping Street, Edward Street, Deansgate and Talbot Road were identified as priority areas for this investment of Local Growth Deal and LTP resources. This project is now completed. Further such opportunities will be sought, most recently from the government's Levelling Up programme, which has resulted in funding for the Multiversity project, which will improve public realm to the town centre's east, while providing employment and bringing in town centre footfall.
The Local Transport Plan programme includes provision for public realm improvements. Without external funding, such improvements might be small-scale, but opportunities for additional funding for more comprehensive schemes will be pursued.
The council full business case submission to the government's Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, in partnership with Blackpool Transport Services, was successful. The business case was submitted to the Department for Transport on 28 January 2022. This success means that a 105 strong state of the art electric bus fleet will be provided, together with a depot rebuild and refurbishment. The first electric buses are scheduled to arrive in Summer 2024 with the project completed in 2025. These will replace the current Palladium fleet of very high standard Euro VI engined vehicles.
Blackpool Council and Lancashire County Council have worked together to renew the tramway from Blackpool to nearby town Fleetwood, enabling a fleet of 18 modern 'Flexity 2' trams to help people travel between Fylde coast destinations. The renewed system had its 10th anniversary in April 2022. Ridership continues to grow, despite the recent pandemic.
Heritage trams continue to use the system, providing a service for tourists and enthusiasts and making a fine sight as they ply the promenade.
The two councils have collaborated to extend the tramway system, benefiting the entire Fylde coast. At the time of writing, The Blackpool Tramway Extension Scheme, connecting the tramway to Blackpool North railway station from the promenade, awaits completion of the Central Business District 2 scheme following the former Wilkos store demolition. New platforms within the site have been constructed for a 2023 opening. The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership has provided funding. This scheme will improve public transport access to Blackpool's seafront hotels and attractions, particularly the Pleasure Beach, and connect the North Fylde to the national rail network. It provides a public transport link between the Blackpool Central Business District and the wider area, including the main council office, Topping Street/Dickson Road shopping, Grundy Art Gallery and Central Library, restaurants and bars, and Sainsbury's supermarket. The tramway extension will provide a valuable light rail complement to the bus network and can help reduce congestion and parking pressures on the town centre. The same ticket products as for bus are available for the tram.
Concerning road traffic, traffic flow management technology can help to reduce congestion, pollution and accommodate the traffic growth that is likely to follow from economic regeneration, including growing town centre employment. Traffic control systems are reviewed for ongoing improvements.. The network benefits from Variable Message Signage, a car park management system and Bluetooth technology, which monitors traffic flow.
The council is continuing to work within the government's Transport Technology Forum intent upon promoting digital traffic management technology, particularly SMART parking guidance. This is a continuing process to maximise technology's benefits to the Blackpool community.
In its Bus Back Better document, the government presented a National Bus Strategy intended to force the pace of improvement in bus services and increase people’s use of this congestion busting and ‘green’ transport mode. At a local level, Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) now set out councils' visions of how this will be achieved. Blackpool's first plan was submitted to government in October 2021 and was renewed in 2022. The plans will be renewed annually.
Blackpool residents can view the plan revised in 2022 using the link below. The plan forms the foundation for the enhanced bus partnership that is now place. This is a formal agreement with operators to improve local bus services. Unfortunately Blackpool's plan has yet to receive any additional funding therefore the measures it proposed cannot be implemented. However, it is hope that they can proceed if further resources do become available. The plan will continue to be revised on an annual basis and the council will continue to use Local Transport Plan resources to support buses, including by replacing bus shelters.
Blackpool Council's bus service improvement plan [PDF 798KB]
Blackpool benefits from a high-quality bus network. The council wishes to see increased numbers of residents and visitors using the bus, in line with the Local Transport Plan. Services are provided by Blackpool Transport Services, Stagecoach Bus, Preston Bus and Coastliner Buses. Timetables, useful smartphone apps and other information can be found on these companies' sites, including journey planning and bus service real time information. Stagecoach Bus and Blackpool Transport Services Ltd are operating contactless card payments on its vehicles, the latter a tap on/tap off system, removing the need for change. Using season and flexible bus fare products reduce bus travel's costs significantly in comparison to walk up fares.
A real time information (RTI) screen has been installed in the former Blackpool Transport Services shop on Market Street, Blackpool, providing information for transport hub located services.
If travelling into Blackpool, the PlusBus system offers seamless interchange between rail and bus/tram services. Simply ask for the Plus Bus add on when you purchase your train ticket, or take up the prompt if buying on line or via an operator's app. For Blackpool visitors, this offer is for both bus and tram. Soon the tramway will come right to the railway station's door and with PlusBus the passenger will be able to transfer smoothly from train to tram for their onward journey.
Additionally, Northern Railway now offers through ticketing from train to Blackpool Transport Services Ltd bus and tram services. Ask for this when you buy your train ticket for seamless public transport into and around the resort.
More people commuting by public transport means less congestion, less air pollution and an improved environment, including for cyclists and pedestrians. The vehicles, services and payment options are in place to make this happen. Together with more people cycling, this is becoming more important to achieve net zero.
The council always keeps town centre bus stop arrangements under review. A transport hub focused on Market and Corporation Street with good service information has been established. These works have allowed bus stopping to be removed from Clifton Street and to befocused in the transport hub area, making it easier to find the right bus. Further services use the adjacent Abingdon Street and Queen Street stops. The north-bound 3 and 4 services use Topping Street stops, south-bound services can be boarded outside Funny Girls on Dickson Road. A town centre bus map can be found on the Blackpool Transport Services site. Operators' smartphone apps have an interactive map with journey planning.
The council recognises the important role taxis and private hire vehicles play in supporting the visitor and night-time economies. The role landaus play in providing promenade pleasure trips is also acknowledged. Regular dialogue occurs between representatives of the trade and council officers concerning network and ranking issues, ensuring that appropriate ranks are available. Taxis and private hire vehicles reduce the need for car ownership for the occasional car user. They provide an essential link between transport hubs, hotels and attractions.
During the Covid pandemic period, the government supported the council's Rideability Community Transport Service. The table below shows the amount of this support:
Rideability CBSSG claim
Rideability CBSSG Claim
||17 March 2020
||13 April 2020
||14 April 2020
||11 May 2020
||12 May 2020
||8 June 2020
||9 June 2020
||3 August 2020
||4 August 2020
||28 September 2020
||29 September 2020
||23 November 2020
||24 November 2020
||18 January 2020
||19 January 2021
||15 March 2021
||16 March 2021
||10 May 2021
||11 May 2021
||5 July 2021
||6 July 2021
||31 August 2021
The coach industry continues to bring many people to the resort and this is valued. The Central car park site, provides for year round scheduled National Express services and scheduled seasonal services.
Coach parking locations are identified in the parking services section of this site. This also provides information on the paybyphone app that enables 72 hours free parking for coach vehicles. Foxhall Village, Seasiders and South facilities are all marked for coach. For a more town centre location, Banks Street is also so marked and is signed.
The need for new and better coach facilities is kept under ongoing review and is being addressed within the Blackpool Central project. Coach can provide an alternative arrival mode for visitors who do not drive and seek value for money travel to Blackpool's attractions.
The VisitBlackpool website provides advice to coach passengers and coach operators.
Blackpool has several cycle routes. Cycling on the Promenade is a popular activity, particularly using the Jubilee Cycleway to the North. This route and others are intended for leisure and commuting cycling at low speeds and not racing, training or other fast riding, particularly as pedestrians including children are also using this space. With recent sea wall works at Anchorsholme now complete, it is possible to cycle with care all the way between Starr Gate and Fleetwood on the Promenade.
Cycling is permitted in all town centre areas, with care and indicated by cycle symbol 'flags' let into the ground.
Minor works for cycling can be funded from the Local Transport Plan programme, including cycle parking. The council is working with Lancashire councils to establish a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) in line with government policy.
The council has worked with Northern Trains to provide cycle parking at Layton station. Northern Trains has provided excellent covered cycle storage at Blackpool North railway station.
Around a million visitors arrive by train each year and summer services can be crowded. Electric trains provide three of the four regular hourly services - two to Manchester Airport via Piccadilly and one to Liverpool. The York service now benefits from the class 195 diesel train with its far superior facilities compared with its predecessors. These trains are more spacious than previous units and peak-time overcrowding has been eased. Another hourly Preston/Colne service runs from Blackpool South railway station.
Northern Trains provides services at Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations. This company's website provides all journey planning, ticket purchase and timetable information.
The Avanti West Coast company assumed the West Coast Partnership franchise from December 2019 and continued the three direct London services and early morning service that the former franchise holder had undertaken. This company has moved to develop its services, providing greater access to Birmingham and Milton Keynes, as well as maintaining access to London.
Access to London, Scotland, the West Midlands and other large conurbations is recognised as a key consideration for those who might invest in Blackpool. The council is keen to see improvements to the Preston hub railway station, as so many people change trains there to come to the resort. It is also seeking direct trains to Scotland, which the resort has lost and are seen as economically very important.
The council lobbies the railway industry for more rail investment. It is a member of the West Coast Rail 250 group, which has been instrumental in improving the vital West Coast Main-line, bringing visitors from Scotland, the south and connecting the resort's businesses to London. The council is a stakeholder in the Transport for the North organisation, which is looking at new strategic transport links for the entire north, together with technology based transport solutions.
The council supports the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership. With support from local MPs, a strategic outline business case proposal to make improvements to enable the line's frequency to be increased to two trains per hour, has been submitted to the government's Restoring Your Railway Fund and is now being worked through. Although it is not in Blackpool, the council also supports the Poulton and Fleetwood line reopening project, which has received money from the Restoring Your Railway fund for feasibility appraisal work.
Transport policy promotes equality and helps people to participate in society. An LTP strategy equalities impact assessment has been prepared and is available to view on request.