On the buses
There were major changes to our Arriva bus services from 16 September. Arriva lists them as the following improvements; make up your own mind about that.
The service 518 Newcastle to Alnwick has been replaced by the new service X18. The 518 to Widdrington has been withdrawn. The X18 comes from Newcastle goes on to Alnwick every hour and then continues to Berwick via Boulmer, Longhoughton, Craster, Embleton, Newton by the Sea, Seahouses, Bamburgh and Belford every two hours. Early morning and evening services terminate at Belford. Journey time from Amble to Newcastle on the X18 is 1 hour 22 minutes.
You can no longer get a direct bus to Blyth: the no. 1 bus has been replaced by service 20 which no longer services the Widdrington Estate; it goes via Wansbeck Hospital to Ashington, where it changes into the X20. It now runs from the A189 via the B1334 to North Seaton, Fairfield Drive and Woodhorn Road, then on to Newcastle, the first stop being the Regent Centre.
Total journey time from Amble to Newcastle on this service is 1 hour 26 minutes. There are guaranteed connections at Ashington bus station, through fares are available and there is no bus change required. Hail and ride is available on Percy Drive, Links Avenue, and Leslie Drive, where it is safe to do so.
Service times from Amble to Alnwick which includes the 472 Travelsure service are now spaced further apart, providing a near half hourly service, but buses returning from Alnwick now leave only minutes apart at certain times of the day. Councillor Robert Arckless regrets the loss of the link service from our east ward to Alnwick.
Nick Knox, area managing director for Arriva North East, said: “These changes will see many improvements to our current service, with more buses per hour and faster journey times on many routes. Unfortunately there will be a few areas that will see a reduced service; however this is due to very few people travelling. We must make sure that the local communities we serve have a strong, sustainable network of bus services and these changes are part of that process.”
So, the message is use it or lose it.