Accessible transport – if you can get to the bus stop!

Posted on 23rd April 2013 | in Community

bus-at-bus-stopArriva North East, who run services to Ashington, Newcastle and Alnwick, launched their Low Floor Promise across many of its services in Northumberland on 8 March.

Nick Knox, area managing director of Arriva North East said: “The majority of our fleet is made up of buses built to the new accessibility standards – incorporating low floors and easy access for wheelchairs and those with walking difficulties. Our Low Floor Promise represents another step towards achieving a fully ‘accessible’ fleet.”

Northumberland County Councillor Simon Reed, executive member for infrastructure and environment said: “There are many people with disabilities in Northumberland who rely on bus transport to get around. We are very pleased that Arriva’s Low Floor promise will guarantee accessible vehicles for Northumberland.”

Arriva’s Low Floor Promise guarantees that all vehicles operating on the services included will be 100% easy access.

They state: “If for any reason the bus is not wheelchair accessible we promise to call a taxi to make sure that people can carry on their day as planned. We understand the importance of providing a bus service that all of our passengers can rely on.

“The above guarantee does not include pushchairs or buggies that are not adapted for a disabled child, nor does it include services that are low floor, and where the ramp is operating properly, but the wheelchair space is taken up by another wheelchair user or a pushchair user who is asked by the driver to fold down their buggy, but refuses to do so. Services 20 and X20 are not included in the low floor guarantee, but are due to be included from summer 2013”

Bus stops axed

However what happens when you cannot make it to the bus stop? Arriva have recently axed the service to the Links area of Amble and the Precinct at Hadston, causing problems for people with walking difficulties.

Due to a great deal of lobbying by local councillors, in particular Robert Arckless, the County Council has agreed to subsidise an intermittent service to the east end of the town.

The 472 service from Travelsure started running to the Links Estate three times a day on 25 March. The first leaves from Church Street at 9.53am returning at 9.57am, there is another at 12.10pm returning at 12.14pm and again at 14.11pm returning at 14.14pm.

This is not ideal, but it is all that available funding can provide. It is also not set in stone, the service will be reviewed in the summer and it will be very much a case of use it or lose it. Please note that because of the additional services the former timetable has changed. New timetables can be sourced from the Travelsure or County Council website.

At a meeting between Chevington Parish Council and Arriva about the lack of service to the Precinct. Mr. De Santis of Arriva said that they would look into the possibility of putting a service back into Hadston.

Let’s hope there is a positive outcome, so that people with walking difficulties can take advantage of Arriva’s ‘Low floor promise!’

Vivienne Dalgliesh

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