Bus stop – if you’re lucky!
Have you travelled on the local buses recently? Are you up to date with what is going on? If you are, you are probably in the minority. Over the past few months timetables and routes have been changing and not always to our advantage.
We talk of public transport, a service for the public. I looked up the dictionary definition of ‘service’. It is defined as ‘a system that provides something needed by the public.’ Do you believe that is what we have?
Before the days of deregulation we had an integrated system. Deregulation was supposed to provide us with a choice of operators. Instead, the big companies swallowed up the smaller ones and now monopolise the routes and when they are no longer viable they are axed, leaving residents, with no alternative transport, isolated. That is what has happened in Amble.
Regular bus users may be aware of the changes because notices are displayed in the buses, but occasional users often find out about them when they turn up to find the timetable has changed. These changes have been justified by, ‘years of declining patronage’ and ‘issues with capacity and reliability.’ As a result, since the beginning of February, there is no bus service to the Links Estate.
Arriva has promised guaranteed wheelchair- accessible services, clear information to users, contingency measures in case of failure to deliver promised service, including taxi replacement, and drivers who receive disability awareness training, but if people cannot get to the nearest bus stop then all this is irrelevant to them.
The No 20 bus no longer goes into the Hadston Estate and terminates in Church Street, Amble. It has however been reconnected at Ashington (X20) providing an alternative route to Newcastle. This bus connected with the Travelsure 472 service to Alnwick, but that is no longer possible. People who have found this change inconvenient have contacted Travelsure, but they were unaware of the change, so obviously there has been no communication between operators.
Town and County Councillor Robert Arckless has made repeated representation to Arriva, Northumberland County Council and most recently the Town Council in an effort to restore some sort of service. He has taken Ian Coe, Head of Transport at NCC on a site visit, and explored other routes. The hope of a subsidy is slim in the light of the £27million cuts being made in the CC budget. Any money allocated to a service in Amble would inevitably come from an equally deserving cause. We are not alone.
If any of these issues affect you, let the relevant authority know: the more people who join the cause, the more hope of a satisfactory result.