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Blackburn Bus Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blackburn Bus Company
Blackburn Bus Company.png
Blackburn heros.jpg
Blackburn Bus Company's 237 Blackburn heros parked at Blackburn Bus Station
ParentTransdev Blazefield
FoundedApril 2001; 20 years ago (2001-04)
Service typeBus services
Routes18 (December 2020)
DepotsIntack Bus Depot
Fleet57 (November 2020)
Chief executiveAlex Hornby

The Blackburn Bus Company[1] is a bus operator, running services in the boroughs of Blackburn, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley. It is a subsidiary of Transdev Blazefield. Commencing in July 2016, the business is progressively being rebranded from Lancashire United.


In April 2001, Stagecoach sold its East Lancashire operations to the Blazefield Holdings. Soon after, these operations were split in two. The Blackburn, Bolton, Clitheroe and Hyndburn became Lancashire United[1] and the remainder became Burnley & Pendle.

Investment commenced in new vehicles almost immediately, with the first of 30 new Wright Renown bodied Volvo B10BLEs arriving in September 2001.

A number of service revisions followed with many marginal services withdrawn and a number of school contracts were terminated. Much of this work, mainly contracted to Lancashire County Council, was picked up by Northern Blue. A focus was then made on developing high quality trunk routes, namely the 152, 225 & Hyndburn Circulars. Also later the X1.

In 2002, the Bolton garage was sold on to independent operator Blue Bus. The contracted services in the Clitheroe area were relinquished and the garage was sold to a housing developer. Most of the Clitheroe contracted work passed to Northern Blue.

In January 2006, Lancashire United was included in the sale of Blazefield Holdings to Transdev.[2][3] Unlike the other Transdev Blazefield subsidiaries it retained its pre-acquisition trading name.

In January 2007, Blackburn Transport was purchased from Blackburn with Darwen Council with 130 buses[4][5] followed in August 2007 by Accrington Transport and Northern Blue of Burnley with 65 buses.[6] In September 2009, Transdev Northern Blue was integrated into Transdev Burnley & Pendle. In March 2008, Lancashire United took over the Accrington local bus network from Accrington Transport.

This resulted in Clitheroe services being reacquired by Lancashire United for a second time through the Northern Blue takeover, however these ceased to be operated in June 2008.

Commencing in July 2016, the business is progressively being rebranded as the Blackburn Bus Company.[7][8]

Routes and brands


Blackburn Bus Company

A rebrand of the company commenced in July 2016, beginning with the introduction of a new fleet of two tone blue Optare Versas for routes 6/7 between Blackburn and Accrington.[7][8] Other services operating around Blackburn, Darwen and Hyndburn operate under this brand including service 4 to Leyburn Road, service 24 to Chorley, and 1 to Darwen and Bolton

The1 - Upgrade your ride

With the arrival of 13 new ADL Enviro200 MMCs, The 1 received a new look in the two tone Blue livery, replacing the former Lancashire United branded Volvo B7RLEs. Bragging host of new features including wireless charging at every seat, the brand gained its new "Upgrade Your Ride" identity.[11]


Following a batch of new Optare Versas in 2016, the former Hyndburn Connect in Lancashire United branding was replaced by a new two tone blue livery, featuring the new Blackburn Bus Company brand which was set to replace it Lancashire United predecessor as part of a Re-branding program across Transdev Blazefield.[7][8]


A 2016 rebrand for the Lancashire Way 152, Burnley to Preston via Blackburn service. This service uses two tone purple liveried Wright Eclipse Geminis.[12]

Red Express X41

From 3 April 2016 the X41 which links Accrington and Haslingden with Manchester was branded Red Express from its former Lancashire Way branding with specially branded Blue and Red ex Harrogate Bus Company Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B7TLs formerly used on Harrogate bus route 36.[13] In January 2020, the bus route was announced to be axed but was saved,[14] as a part of this, the Volvo B7TLs were removed and replaced by 3 Volvo B7RLEs, formerly used on the now axed Red4 Rosso service, the Yellow and Red Base colours were kept and the RedExpress branding was added.[15]

Valley Line

Launched on 21 May 2017, this service links Clitheroe, Whalley and Blackburn then continuing to Royal Blackburn Hospital and Shadsworth. It features a new Blue and Yellow Livery to echo the former Lancashire United Livery and uses 5 Volvo B10BLEs fitted with WiFi and USB Power.[16]

Special/Other brands

Blackburn Bus Company 237 Blackburn Heros. Optare Versa. Seen parked at Blackburn Bus Station
Blackburn Bus Company 237 Blackburn Heros. Optare Versa. Seen parked at Blackburn Bus Station

Blackburn Heros

In 2020, 237 received a one-off Blackburn Heros livery to thank the keyworkers of the Blackburn area for their dedication through the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Ribble 100

Commemorating 100 years since the former Ribble was founded. A Volvo B7TL was rebranded with a one off Ribble100 livery, featuring the iconic Cherry Red and cream colours, the Ribble100 also a timeline of images of how the operator had progress through it years of service. Vehicle's fleet number was also changed to 100 and was re-registered as R100 TDV.

Pride of the North

This livery is used for supporting fleet across Transdev Blazefield, in a two tone grey livery. As seen here on 1866 during its time with Blackburn, operating the Hotline 152.

Plaxton President bodied Volvo B7TL in Accrington in February 2008
Plaxton President bodied Volvo B7TL in Accrington in February 2008

Past services/Route Branding

Lancashire United (2001)

Lancashire United's original livery was cream with blue and red stripes with a swoop towards the back and a black skirt in standard Blazefield style, many buses in this livery carried route branding such as Route 152, 225 and the Hyndburn Circular.

Lancashire United (2010)

This new style livery consists of yellow and blue with a distinctive red rose swooping up along the curve, the livery also carries a new Lancashire United logo, The new Optare Tempos were the first to carry this livery with route branding for route 225, the fleet was standardized into this livery replacing both the Spot On and The Lancashire Way liveries. Some vehicles carried The Hyndburn Connect branding for routes 6 and 7. Now replaced by The Blackburn Bus Company as part of the rebranding programme of the Blazefield companies that took place in 2016.

Hyndburn Circular

This was a circular service that connected Blackburn with the towns of Rishton, Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood, Oswaldtwistle and Accrington in the district of Hyndburn. The service was taken over from Stagecoach Ribble's Blackburn depot in 2001 and shortly after a brand new fleet were purchased and carried branding for this service. From May 2007 the service was part of the Spot On network. September 2013 saw the routes rebranded as The Hyndburn Connect

The Outer Circle

The Blackburn Outer Circle was a circular service that connected schools, hospitals and leisure opportunities around the edge of the town. It was started by Blackburn Borough Transport in 1980 as the 50 (clockwise) and the 51 (anticlockwise). The Transport Department did not register the service for commercial operation, and after deregulation, it became one of several routes in the area won by GM Buses on a nil tender basis. GM Buses found out that these services were not as profitable as they had imagined and pulled out of the area entirely, on 26 January 1987 the route was returned to Blackburn Transport, who re-instated Leyland Atlantean double-deckers to operate the service. At the next round of tenders, the services passed to Ribble, who operated it using Leyland Olympians from Preston's Frenchwood garage. The route again reverted to Blackburn Transport using Optare Metroriders, the route was then renumbered as Track 5 with an A or C suffix denoting direction of travel.

In March 2006 the route became the OC and used Volvo Olympians which received a purple and orange livery with route branding, the vehicles and branding were retained on takeover by Lancashire United. As of August 2016 this route no longer operates due to budget cuts by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.[17]

The Hyndburn Connect

Launched on 2 September 2013, Hyndburn Circular services 6 and 7 that link Blackburn with Oswaldtwistle, Accrington, Clayton-Le-Moors, Great Harwood and Rishton, a new Hyndburn Connect ticket was also introduced to replace the Spot On Hyndburn ticket and buses received branding for this service

The X1

The X1 was a semi-express route linking Clitheroe, Whalley and Accrington with Manchester. The route was for a time operated by a fleet of route branded Volvo Olympians and won a number of awards. The X1 and associated X2 were replaced with the X40/X41 service running between Blackburn, Accrington and Manchester. Route 241 was created for passengers between Clitheroe and Accrington, however this route has since passed in and out of the company's control a number of times and now no longer runs. A very limited number of journeys still commenced at Great Harwood.

The Lancashire Way

Replaced by the Red Express and Hotline brands in 2016. This was first introduced to complement the Witch Way branding for route X40/X41 from Manchester to Blackburn/Great Harwood/Whalley via Accrington. Originally using buses in a black and red livery with a Lancashire Rose. For a time buses on route 152 also used this branding. Then later using Yellow and blue Wright Eclipse Geminis. In 2016 the more rural Whalley and Great Harwood journeys were axed in favour of the urban Blackburn, Accrington, Haslingden, Prestwich, Manchester service.

Ribble Valley Express

Predominantly white with a large crimson circle with route listing below the windows and Ribble Valley Express logo above the skirt this livery was replaced by the new Lancashire United livery.

The Whalley Ranger

This service was introduced in late 2009 following customer requests after two years of the Whalley Range area being unserved by bus. The route used specially branded buses and operated every 10 minutes with a flat single fare of £1, on 14 June 2010 the service was extended to serve Openshaw Drive to replace Spot On route 24, with the frequency reduced to every 15 minutes and period tickets became valid. It was announced on 16 November 2010 that this service was to be withdrawn due to low patronage, the last service operated on 24 December 2010.

Route 124

This route was renumbered '2' on 2 September 2013 and operated as a through service from Chorley to Blackburn, Blackburn Hospital and Darwen. From March 2014 the Blackburn to Chorley section was once again split from the Darwen section. The service running as route 24.

Route 225

Route 225 was a long established route which ran from Clitheroe to Bolton via Whalley, Blackburn & Darwen. The route was taken over from Stagecoach Ribble in 2001 and a new fleet of route branded low floor buses operated it. As of 16 September 2012 this route was divided into two separate services with all buses now terminating in Blackburn town centre. The Blackburn to Clitheroe section being renumbered as Route 22 and the Blackburn to Bolton section became Route 1 which has subsequently replaced Spot On 1.

Spot on liveried Plaxton Pointer Dennis Dart in Darwen in March 2008
Spot on liveried Plaxton Pointer Dennis Dart in Darwen in March 2008

Spot On

Following the acquisition of Blackburn Transport, both its services and Lancashire United's Hyndburn Circular routes were combined and branded as 'Spot On', the service was launched on 14 May 2007 with a fleet of 25 brand new single deck buses .[18][19] Predominantly white, with sandy brown skirts and wear Spot On branding, the livery featured lifestyle pictures of passengers advertising attractive features of the service on the back of the buses. They originally carried varying colours of each route they operate, however since the overhaul of services in February 2009 most of the Spot on branded buses had their coloured route brandings removed, As of August 2011 new version of this livery had been applied to the buses, however due to services changes this livery was replaced with the new Lancashire United livery in July 2014.

Spot on 1

As of 16 September 2012 this route was divided into two separate services replacing the Spot On branding from this route, renumbered as Route 41 to operate alongside the X41 between Blackburn and Accrington with the Blackburn to Darwen section becoming Route 1.

Urban Cool

This was a new school livery for Lancashire, however, due to funding problems, they scrapped the idea, and have stuck with yellow double deckers.[20]

A small number of double-deckers inherited from the former Blackburn Transport operations still retained the old two-tone green and cream livery and the green and yellow Schools+ livery while two still wore the purple and orange Outer Circle livery

Contract services

On 2 April 2011, Lancashire United lost the contract to routes C1 and 241. 2014 saw the loss of service 39 which has been handed over to several operators.


Current Fleet


100 - This Volvo B7TL is a commemorative vehicle that was rebranded in 2019 to mark 100 years since the start of Ribble and features the iconic Cherry Red and Cream colours as part of the Ribble100 Brand. This vehicle is often used on the 152 and 24 services.

220-237 - A fleet of 18 new Optare Versas went into service in 2016 for 6&7 between Blackburn, Great Harwood, Accrington, and Oswaldtwistle. These vehicles were the first to receive the new Blackburn Bus Company identity in two tone blue, replacing the former Lancashire United Brand. 220-235 also carried the new 6&7 branding which replaced the former Hyndburn Connect. In 2020, 237 received a one-off Blackburn Heros livery to thank the keyworkers of the Blackburn area for their dedication through the Coronavirus Pandemic. All 18 Vehicles feature 4G Wifi and USB power at every seat as well as visual and audio next stop information.

501-513 - A fleet of 13 new ADL Enviro200 MMCs went into service in January 2020 for The 1 between Blackburn, Darwen, and Bolton. Replacing the now withdrawn Lancashire United Volvo B7RLEs, all 13 were branded for The 1 with its new Upgrade Your Ride identity in the new Blackburn Bus Company Livery. These vehicles showcase an impressive high spec interior with 4G wifi, mood lighting, visual and audio next stop information, and moduals on the back of each seat including a stop button, coat hanger, reading light, USB Power Point, and phone mount with wireless charger built in.

1061-4 & 1092 - 5 Volvo B10BLE Renowns Branded for Valley Line 22 for Clitheroe, Whalley, Blackburn, The Blackburn Royal Hospital, and Shadsworth. This brand was Launched on 21 May 2017 in a new Yellow and Blue Livery. They were also re-registered as B10 YKR-W (excluding U). Formerly branded for Lancashire United and UniBus before that, these vehicles are fitted with 4G WiFi and USB power. 1061-4 were renumbered on 22 November 2020 from 566, 567, 573, & 574 as part of engineering upgrade program taking place across Blazefield.

1096-7 & 1099-1103 - These B10BLE Renowns are the last to carry the former Lancashire United livery. All 6 were new to Lancashire United in 2002, bought as part of a large scale fleet replacement after Blazefield Holdings took over the Blackburn, and Burnley operations of the former Stagecoach Ribble, and have since carried numerous different liveries.

1700 - New as a Volvo demonstrator, this B7RLE was acquired by Harrogate and District in 2003. 2017, it was refurbished and face-lifted with Eclipse 2 front end before being liveried into the new Blackburn Bus Company branding and relocated to Blackburn's Intack Depot.

1755 - New to Yorkshire Coastliner in 2005, this B7RLE later moved to Keighley and District before being refurbished in 2018 where it was face-lifted with Eclipse 2 front end and fitted with USB power before being liveried into the new Blackburn Bus Company branding and relocated to Blackburn's Intack Depot. On 22 November 2020 it was renumbered from 455 as part of engineering upgrade program taking place across Blazefield.

1863-5 - New to Burnley and Pendle in 2009 for the Mainline Service, these 3 Volvo B7RLEs were transferred to Blackburn in 2017 where they were refurbished and received the new Blackburn Bus Company livery and had their seating re-trimmed.

1868-70 - New to Burnley and Pendle in 2009 for the Mainline Service, these 3 Volvo B7RLEs were refurbished for the new Manchester CityZap service in 2017 where they received pleated leather seating, 4G WiFi and USB power. Following Manchester CityZap's collapse in 2018, they were transferred to Rosso where they were liveried for the Red4 service. In January 2020, the Red4 service was withdrawn and the 3 vehicles were re-branded and transferred to Blackburn for the RedExpress service.

2754-55 - New to Burnley and Pendle in 2005 for the WitchWay Service, these Volvo B7TLs were transferred to Blackburn in 2013 where they were re-liveried in the Yellow and Blue Lancashire Way branding for the 152 and X41 services. Following a re-brand in 2016, they were re-liveried into the new two tone Grey Pride of The North brand for use across any of the 6 Blazefield subsidiaries.

2766-72 - New to Burnley and Pendle in 2013 for the WitchWay Service, these Volvo B9TLs were transferred to Blackburn in 2021 where they received a mid-life refurbishment, gaining (in addition to their pre-existing free WiFi) USB power, next stop information, Euro VI engine upgrades and a new two tone Purple livery for the 152 Hotline service.

Fleet history

Lancashire United B10BLE Renown in Route 152 branding seen at the former Blackburn Bus Station.
Lancashire United B10BLE Renown in Route 152 branding seen at the former Blackburn Bus Station.

When Lancashire United took over Stagecoach Ribble in April 2001, the fleet was predominantly made up of aging buses. These included double-decker models such as Bristol VRs and Leyland Atlanteans and single-decker models such as Leyland Lynxs and Leyland Nationals. The new company also inherited a couple of Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Darts and Mercedes-Benz Vario minibuses at the Clitheroe depot. By September 2001, most of these had been replaced by more modern Leyland Olympians, more Leyland Lynxs and the first of 30 new Wright Renown bodied Volvo B10BLEs.

Whilst the Leyland Olympians and Volvo B10BLEs remained with the company for years, other models were bought and sold, mainly middle aged versions at the time. Included were Dennis Darts, Volvo Olympians and some other Volvo single-deckers, many cascaded from Blazefield's other operations in Yorkshire.

In 2007, Lancashire United took delivery of 25 Wright Eclipse bodied Volvo B7RLEs, these were painted in a white and sandy gold livery, with purple Spot On brandings for routes 6 and 7 and a deeper shade of purple for route 1. These were originally destined for Burnley & Pendle, but due to the acquisition of Blackburn Transport they were diverted to Lancashire United.[23] When the Red express was originally introduced in 2016, it used 7 Blue and Red liveried ex Harrogate Bus Company Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B7TLs formerly used on Harrogate bus route 36.[13] In January 2020, the bus route was announced to be axed but was saved,[14] as a part of this, the Volvo B7TLs were removed and replaced by 3 Volvo B7RLEs, formerly used on the now axed Red4 Rosso service, the Yellow and Red Base colours were kept and the RedExpress branding was added.[15]


Lancashire United operated two depots, the former Blackburn Transport depot (Intack), and the former Stagecoach Ribble Motor Services depot (Manner Sutton Street). In August 2011, the Manner Sutton Street depot was closed, with operations merged with those at the Intack.[24]


  1. ^ a b Companies House extract company no 2546070 Lancashire United Limited
  2. ^ Transdev acquires Blazefield Group Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Bus & Coach Professional 7 January 2006
  3. ^ A new stop for Blazefield Yorkshire Post 9 January 2006
  4. ^ Completed acquisition by Lancashire United Limited of the business and assets of Blackburn Borough Transport Limited Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine Office of Fair Trading 24 April 2007
  5. ^ Blackburn Transport - The End Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Olive Green & Ivory
  6. ^ Blazefield buys again in Lancashire Archived 12 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine 9 August 2007
  7. ^ a b c A Revolution is Coming to Acrington and Blackburn Transdev 27 July 2016
  8. ^ a b c "Versa fleet launches with Blackburn operator rebrand" Coach & Bus Week issue 1252 9 August 2016 page 10
  9. ^ "Trandev Website - Blackburn - routes and brands". 25 November 2020.
  10. ^ " list of services and fleet". 25 November 2020.
  11. ^ The Blackburn Bus Company [@blackburnbusco] (24 December 2019). "UPGRADE YOUR RIDE. Arriving this January to the 1. #Blackburn #Darwen #Bolton" (Tweet). Retrieved 3 January 2021 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ The Blackburn Bus Company [@blackburnbusco] (18 August 2016). "Hotline is our cool new purple brand for the 152 - and it's coming very soon #Preston #Blackburn #Burnley #Hotline" (Tweet). Retrieved 3 January 2021 – via Twitter.
  13. ^ a b Lancashire United launches rebranded X41 Coach & Bus Week 4 April 2016
  14. ^ a b "X41 Red Express bus from Accrington to Manchester SAVED". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  15. ^ a b Green, Charlotte (15 February 2018). "Commuter 'express' bus to cut link between Accrington and Blackburn". LancsLive. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  16. ^ The Blackburn Bus Company [@blackburnbusco] (21 April 2017). "We're getting ready to venture on Valleyline. Your new look 22 is almost here, with more buses & bold new features!" (Tweet). Retrieved 3 January 2021 – via Twitter.
  17. ^ "Blackburn's Outer Circle bus service to end". The Shuttle. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. 22 August 2016.
  18. ^ Transport Company's Change Of Name (from Lancashire Telegraph)
  19. ^ "Spot On Timetables"
  20. ^ Bus in Urban Cool livery
  21. ^ "Fleet list – The Blackburn Bus Company –". Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  22. ^ "Enthusiasts | West Yorkshire Information Service". WYIS. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  23. ^ The other word isn't 14 May 2007
  24. ^ Council buys Blackburn bus depot Lancashire Telegraph 11 August 2011

External links

This page was last edited on 7 April 2021, at 11:34
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