All change as council takes another look at bus routes

A 418 service Travelsure bus in Belford.
A 418 service Travelsure bus in Belford.

The county council is reviewing subsidised bus services in north Northumberland, with a series of changes being put forward.

The review of supported bus routes is being carried out in three phases, with the first reviewing and retendering five services.

The Arriva X15 Newcastle to Berwick bus is operated on a commercial basis to Alnwick, but the two-hourly extension to Berwick is subsidised.

It is proposed that the 6.12am service from Berwick to Alnwick is withdrawn as it is poorly used with an average of four passengers per day.

Arriva’s X18 Newcastle to Berwick service works in a similar way to the X15 so it is proposed that it would continue to run as it does now from Monday to Saturday north of Alnwick, apart from leaving Belford 10 minutes earlier on weekdays to allow the bus to go to the new high school in Alnwick. However, there would be a reduction in the service north of Alnwick on Sundays.

Arriva’s X14 is a commercial service from Newcastle to Morpeth and then subsidised on to Thropton. The service is well used by commuters and students at peak times but less so at other times of the day.

It is proposed to retender the service based on eight journeys in each direction, down from 13 from Thropton to Morpeth and 11 the other way.

Travelsure’s 471/472 service between Alnwick and Amble via Shilbottle is well used, but the council is concerned about a subsidised service potentially undermining the viability of Arriva’s commercial X20 route since its extension.

Therefore the 472 service is to be recommissioned to operate two-hourly, which will preserve all the existing links, but at a lower frequency than now.

Finally, the 418 Belford to Alnwick service, which is also currently operated by Travelsure, is to go out to tender on a reduced timetable of three return trips per day, down from four. Belford and most other settlements on the route are also served by the X18 on a two-hourly basis.