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Monday, 06 July 2015

Tynedale: ‘Timetable changes won’t cut services’

TRANSPORT chiefs have refuted claims that proposed changes to bus routes between Hexham, Prudhoe and Newcastle will lead to a reduction in services.

Tom Hopper of Pinpoint Adventure demonstrates a telescopic walking stick.

Go North East is set to make changes to the popular 10 and 11 services in March, which will include the introduction of double decker buses, at a cost of £2.6m.

The company says buses will leave Prudhoe for Newcastle every 10 minutes during the morning rush hour, and every 15 minutes during weekdays, while there will be “slight changes” to departure times from Hexham.

But the proposals have angered a Prudhoe resident, who claims amendments to the timetable will reduce the number of services between the town and Hexham from three buses per hour to two, and between Prudhoe and Newcastle from five buses per hour to four.

And the resident, who asked not to be named, believes changes to the routes will also lead to longer journey times.

He said: “Go North East is cutting buses to Hexham and Newcastle, while making the time it takes to get there longer.

“My wife works part-time and relies on the 11 service to get back in time to pick the kids up, but now there’ll be fewer buses and she might have to cut her hours because the journey will be longer.”

The resident also suggested that Go North East should reduce its bus fares for both adults and children.

Stakeholder manager at Go North East, Tom Dodds, who is also a Prudhoe resident, said the company had carried out a consultation with passengers and residents over the proposals.

“The new service pattern will provide more buses between Prudhoe and MetroCentre,” he said.

“Links to Newcastle will be maintained and the investment in new state-of-the-art double deckers will see more seats being provided.

“It takes just 45 minutes to travel from Newcastle to Prudhoe by bus on service 10.

“During the day, we propose to provide a bus every 15 minutes, on an even timetable, rather than the present arrangement where there is one bus every 20 minutes and another every 30 minutes.”

Mr Dodds admitted that the changes would mean buses leaving Hexham every half an hour – instead of every 20 minutes under the current timetable – but insisted this was due to a lack of demand for a more regular bus.

He added: “More than two years ago we increased the frequency of the Hexham section of the route to every 20 minutes.

“Unfortunately, patronage has not grown as much as we had hoped, and we are planning to revert to the 30 minute frequency to Hexham on Monday to Saturday.

“During the weekday morning rush hour, the service from Hexham will stay the same as it is now with slight changes to departure times.”

Mr Dodds said commuters could buy unlimited travel on services between Hexham, Prudhoe and Newcastle, with the Ten Plus saver ticket for £21 per week, while under-18s could access services across the North-East for £14.40.


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