Rising costs put bus routes under threat

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THREE bus services from Morpeth could be under threat as Northumberland County Council looks to cut costs.

The council says the number of non-commercial bus services it subsidises will have to be slashed due to rising costs as it cannot afford to increase the amount of money it spends on them.

A 12-week consultation period is now under way to give public transport users the chance to have their say on which routes should be retained.

Among the services at risk are those from Morpeth to Otterburn and Tritlington and to Newcastle Airport and Ponteland on Wednesdays and to Upper Coquetdale on Mondays.

The council is also asking for suggestions on how to increase use of the less popular services to reduce their subsidy-per-passenger levels. These could include changing timings or the routes they take.

The council’s head of sustainable transport, Mike Scott, said: “This situation is a challenge. Although we have agreed to invest the same amount of money in subsidising bus services, this amount won’t go as far as it used to.

“We must review those routes which are not working efficiently to see if we can do something to improve this.

“We must also make sure that we are concentrating on those routes vital to local communities.”

Responses have to be submitted to the council by Sunday, July 15.

The list of services being reviewed is available at www.northumberland.gov.uk/transport by clicking on the ‘public transport’ heading.