Trial run for community bus service

FURTHER discussions are set to take place over plans to introduce a community bus to Cramlington.

The current 58 and 58a service through East Hartford in Cramlington, operated by Arriva North East, is under threat as the company is looking to make savings and remove routes which are not classed as financially viable.

However, officials at Cramlington Town Council say the service through East Hartford is vital to residents and they are keen to ensure these people are not left isolated.

As a result the council is beginning talks with Bedlington-based community bus group WatBus over a part-time service in the town.

WatBus has expressed an interest in providing the service on a possible two or three days a week basis in a bid to ease the problem if the service is cut.

And now discussions will continue over costings for the service.

A trial run is being arranged to assess the route and usage of the service.

Speaking at a full council meeting last week, council clerk Bob Baker said: “After the trial run we will be able to talk about costings and see what progress can be made.

“We would be able to apply for a Get Going grant for £5,000.”

Coun David Shaw added: “For the bus to be financially viable, Arriva needs to make £120,000 a year, so it is highly likely this service will be withdrawn in March.

“We need a plan for if that happens.”

Nick Knox, area managing director for Arriva North East, said: “We are currently reviewing the 58/58a services, which we agreed to operate on a trial basis, as there are very few passengers using these routes.

“We are in discussion with Northumberland County Council and Cramlington Town Council over the future of these services, but as of yet no decision has been made.”