On the buses

Posted on 23rd July 2010 | in Community

On the buses

You stand and wait an hour for a bus then three come along at once. No it’s not an old music hall joke, that’s how the buses run in Amble now.

On June 1st the 420 Arriva Alnwick/Amble Ashington service was withdrawn. It was said to be no longer viable. I cannot argue with that as I travelled on a double decker bus from Ashington recently and there were only three passengers on board. However these changes took place straight after a Bank Holiday weekend and few people, passengers or staff, were prepared for it.

bus stop The new timetables were not available, not on the buses (the bus driver said they would not be available for two weeks), not at the bus stands (though they have now been updated), only on the internet and not everyone has access to it.

The new 472 service to Amble was not even available via the internet; you had to pay 10p for a photocopy from Alnwick TIC. People were waiting for buses that were never going to arrive.

The County Council stepped in to subsidise the 472 service at the last minute, which was why the timetables were not available, but I have heard that if the service is not well supported that subsidy will be withdrawn by Christmas.

So here is what is currently available; the 518 service remains unchanged, services 1 and 1a replace service 420 between Ashington and Amble creating new links between Blyth, Amble, Cresswell and Newbiggin.

Passengers wishing to travel beyond Amble to Alnwick may connect to the 518 service at Amble to go via Warkworth and Alnmouth with through fares available, or they can use the 472 which goes to Alnwick via Shilbottle.

The No 1 bus arrives on the hour and goes to Links Avenue; it serves all stops en route with a ‘hail and ride’ facility on Percy Drive, Links Avenue, Links Road and Leslie Drive. It departs for Blyth from the Church Street bus stop at four minutes past the hour.

The 472 goes to Alnwick on the hour and the 518 leaves Amble for Alnwick at two minutes past the hour and there is no further service to Alnwick between these times.

If you fancy a shopping trip, the 472 calls at Sainsbury’s car park, and all around the streets, but don’t ask me where it stops on the return journey, I find it safest to go to the bus station.

Other changes include the 06.55 Alnwick-Alnmouth and 07.23 Alnmouth-Alnwick (via Shilbottle) services which are now operated by Phoenix Coaches.

A new bus, the 423 was introduced, leaving at 07.35 from Widdrington Station to Alnwick, and 15.31 Alnwick to Widdrington Station, on Mondays to Fridays. It is operated by Northumbria Mini Coaches.

They will probably try to market these changes as improvements, but the service to Alnwick is definitely diminished. Surely the way to encourage people onto public transport is to provide more buses not less.

Vivienne Dalgliesh