Nexus announces further new routes in response to commercial bus cuts
Nexus today announced a further list of local bus route improvements across Tyne and Wear as part of a review of the network in the wake of cuts by commercial operators.
The public transport body is acting on feedback from passengers, local MPs and local councils on the shape of a new network of local services in the wake of the pandemic, reflecting changes in demand which led to bus companies cutting back routes.
The new interventions build on comprehensive changes to services already announced by Nexus and bus companies and include:
- Funding an increase in the evening frequency of Go North East service 1 between Newcastle and Whitley Bay to two buses an hour.
- Extending Go North East service 35 to give the Cotswold Estate in Boldon, South Tyneside a new bus service linked to local shops and on to Sunderland City centre.
- Extending service 41, introduced by nexus in March, to create direct links between northern parts of Wallsend through to Howdon.
- Funding the continued operation of service 69 in Gateshead to maintain direct links to Queen Elizabeth Hospital from Winlaton, Blaydon and Whickham.
- Boosting the frequency of the new 82 route Nexus already plans to introduce in Washington.
- Funding an extension of Go North East’s service Q3 from St Peters Basin in Newcastle to Wallsend, as part of a new route to be called the ‘QA/QB’.
- Funding the expansion of the service 39 in Sunderland to introduce a new service ‘39B’, ensuring Tunstall Bank Estate continues to benefit from access to the bus network.
Nexus also expects to support the following new or re-routed services, working with Durham County Council to maintain links from the county through south Gateshead to Newcastle:
- An hourly service 25 between Newcastle, Gateshead, Eighton Banks, Birtley, and Chester-le-Street.
- An hourly service 28 operating between Newcastle, Gateshead, Wrekenton, Birtley, Ouston, Chester-le-Street.
- An hourly service 29 operating between Newcastle, Gateshead, Kibblesworth, Ouston and Chester-le-Street.
The new routes and route changes will come into effect on Sunday, 24 July, at the same time as Go North East makes cuts across its services in Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tyneside and County Durham.
A comprehensive list of changes on that date can be found on the Nexus website. Earlier changes to services in Newcastle and North Tyneside happened in March and have now bedded in.
Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair, North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “Our bus network is an important asset and it is something so many local people rely on to access work, education and leisure opportunities. Increasing the use of sustainable public transport is a key priority for the region, so I welcome these latest steps to safeguard services.
“We were disappointed in the commercial cuts announced by Go North East earlier this year, partly due to the Government’s withdrawal of covid funding. We want to ensure that the network is there for people when they need it, so I am pleased that the North East Joint Transport Committee made financial provision for this by taking the difficult decision to increase contributions from local councils earlier this year – this has meant we can quickly put these rescue packages in place. Thank you to colleagues at Nexus for their continued efforts to save as many services as possible.
“I remain concerned that we haven’t seen the end of commercial bus cuts in the region just yet and would urge Government and the bus companies to remember how essential bus services are for our communities.”
Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director at Nexus, said: “We have announced further steps to support local bus routes on top of our original rescue packages in response to cuts by commercial operators in the wake of the pandemic.
“We have carried out a detailed review of local transport needs going forward, working with bus operators, building in feedback from passengers and local stakeholders and considering the role both bus and Metro play to keep us all connected.
“Nexus can afford to support these new improvements to bus services thanks to funding from local councils in Tyne and Wear and the last of the additional support the Government provided during the pandemic.
“This gets us to a place where we can seek to grow passenger numbers based on a new network that better reflects local needs, using Government funding earmarked for North East England under the Bus Service Improvement Plan.”
Commercial bus companies have cut back their routes as a result of lower passenger numbers and the ending of Government support which they could access through the pandemic.
Nexus announced a £4.5m rescue package to recast the network in Newcastle and North Tyneside as Stagecoach and Go North East made cuts in March.
It followed this with a further £4.3m rescue package and network review in Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead announced earlier this month.
The further improvements announced today add to both packages, and are based on feedback from local councillors.