Commuters call for more bus services in the evening

BUS services to parts of Cramlington could be improved if two councils can reach an agreement on funding.

Residents have hit out at what they claim is a lack of public transport links to the Beacon Hill area of the town, especially in the evening.

And at a public meeting last Thursday organised by Arriva North East and Northumberland County Council, they called for additional services to help people working in Newcastle to get home.

Resident Jacqui Munro said: “There are lots of people who finish work in Newcastle at 8pm, and there is no bus for them to get back to Beacon Hill.

“We do need something because we are totally dependant on the buses for everything. There is not one person on my street that has a car.

“We are not people who are expecting everything done for us. We want to get to work, and we are just asking for one extra bus.

“We’re not asking for a late bus for people to come back drunk. It’s just for people finishing work, as a lot of shifts finish at 8pm.”

Plans for later bus services could be in the offing if the county council and Cramlington Town Council can agree on the finances and structure involved, the meeting heard.

A subsidised bus service is operated in Newbiggin, thanks to funding from the county council and Newbiggin Town Council, and a similar arrangement is being proposed for Cramlington.

County council transport support manager Ian Coe said: “In Newbiggin, the town council said they were keen to work with us and, as a result of that, we have an agreement with them that they will contribute some funds to a minibus.

“It isn’t ever going to be profitable, and it won’t be as extensive as it used to be, but working with Cramlington Town Council, it might be possible, if the service is used sufficiently to make it worthwhile putting money into.”

Town councillor Ian Ayres said: “In my opinion, if one person uses public transport, then it is best value for that one person.

“Good public tranport is vital in enabling people to access jobs, schools, and healthcare.

“We would be in favour of working with you and looking at addressing the issues that some of the residents of Cramlington have.”

Arriva North East commercial manager Mark Ellis told the meeting that to add further evening services on the X13 route to Beacon Hill from Newcastle, there would need to be a rise in passenger numbers.

However, he added, the company has now added an additional 8.30pm service due to start running in September.

Mr Ellis, pictured, said: “This is a stepping stone. We will start the 8.30pm service at the beginning of September, and if that works and taps into a demand, then we will look and see what else we can do.”

Another Beacon Hill resident, Barry Flux, added: “The 8.30pm bus will give more residents the time to get back home from Newcastle. This is particularly helpful for shift workers.

“It is imperative that we make this trial work otherwise we will lose this extra bus and any chance of the service being extended to an even later time.”