I wish to complain in the strongest terms about the changes Arriva has made at very short notice to the X18 bus service between Newcastle and Alnwick, with particular reference to the service to Alnmouth Station.
I was delighted to see the X20 service coming, thinking that at last there would be a half hourly service to the station to rectify the awful reliability problems with the X18. However, this is not the case, as effectively the X18 service to the station has been taken off.
I am very angry for the following reasons.
Firstly, I have just paid a term’s bus pass for my daughter to travel to and from the Duchess’s School in Alnwick, to and from the station. The X18 bus was effectively the ‘school bus’ once post-16 charges came in. Had I known the bus was no longer servicing the station, I would not have paid Arriva the money and would have paid for the school bus instead.
The Spirit bus, which could have been a back-up to get the kids to school has also been taken off. Interesting that the news about the changes came out in the school holidays.
It is not a short walk up or down the hill from the A1068, especially for those with heavy suitcases, the elderly or disabled, those with school bags, buggies, children and shopping, even in good weather, let alone in winter when the walk to the station on the pavement is icy, even though the road is clear.
The reason given for not servicing the station is the car parking problem causing delays. I have been using the service for over 20 years and the times the parking problems have caused a delay can be counted on one hand, but the constant unknown delays on the other one hour 45 minute journey have never been explained.
I can only surmise that Arriva is an undercover global taxi company. There is now no service between Alnmouth and the station (did you clock this, Alnmouth businesses?), no bus service to the high school in the morning, which I have paid for, and at the time of writing, no new bus stops or timetables for the unfortunates who have to have to try to get to and from Alnmouth. Not a good advert for the county or Arriva.
I can suggest a few things: Arriva maintains the service to the station at least for the school run; re-time the x20 to replace the missing school bus; take tips from the marvellous Spirit bus for customer service, reliability and up-to-date information, and subsidise it to get our kids to school; give me a rebate for the journeys I have paid for and am not getting; do the decent thing and put on a shuttle bus between Alnmouth/Hipsburn and the station until you get your act together.
Even the drivers are angry.