The debate of whether local senior citizens in possession of a NOW card should be entitled to free travel on the Blackpool tramway has often appeared on this website since the tramway’s modernisation, but it now looks like the topic has taken a surprising turn. Despite various threats of cost-cutting, Lancashire County Council have announced that NOW cards will be accepted on the Blackpool tramway.
Not only will Blackpool residents who have one of these passes be entitled to free travel on the trams, but this offer will now also be extended to all Wyre residents, meaning that the citizens of Cleveleys and Fleetwood will benefit as well. Naturally there will be some restrictions in place, and the offer will apply only to normal service trams (although concessions on heritage tours are already available and will presumably continue), but hopefully locals will be appeased by the reversal of the previous decision.
Is is quite surprising that this turnaround has happened, especially when only a matter of weeks ago the LCC were threatening to stop its financial contributions to the ongoing maintenance of the tramway infrastructure at the northern end of the line as it was short of cash! It is also interesting that passenger numbers had increased sharply most months last year compared with 2015, so the decision to grant NOW card holders free travel could well see even higher numbers once the new ruling takes effect in April. This could well result in more use of the ‘B Fleet’ Balloons and it is believed that more staff are to be trained to drive these trams before Easter, improving their operational flexibility.
Hopefully this is another sign that 2016 will be a good year for Blackpool’s trams, and more importantly that local councillors are finally realising the value of this unique asset!