Further alterations to bus services in north of county

Further changes are planned for the Arriva bus network in north Northumberland, which was overhauled in the autumn.

Bosses from Arriva were due to update members from the county council’s north area committee at Monday night’s meeting, but it was cancelled due to adverse weather.

However the presentation has been circulated to update councillors on the changes due to come into effect next month.

The presentation also refers to updates that have been made since the major alterations to the county’s bus network last September.

It explains that the changes in the autumn were necessary to address years of declining patronage and that there had been a ‘mix of positive and negative reactions, including some issues with capacity and reliability’.

Both issues have affected the X18 service, which runs between Alnwick and Berwick and Newcastle via the coast.

In November, some alterations were made with the peak running times of the X18 service extended while the X20, which offers improved links between Amble and Druridge Bay and Newcastle, and the 20 were temporarily split at Ashington to improve punctuality.

But there are further changes planned to come into effect from Sunday, February 3.

At peak times, the X15 service, which links Alnwick and Berwick to Newcastle via the A1, will run via Wagonway Road in Alnwick.

At present, it travels out of the town centre to the A1 via Bondgate Without and South Road.

The X18 service will be shortened at HMP Northumberland so that only the busiest journeys serve the visitors centre ‘pending possible construction of a new turning circle near the site entrance’.

An extra morning peak journey will be put on between Widdrington and Morpeth to reduce crowding.

The 20 and X20 service will be re-linked following the November changes, but buses will no longer serve Hadston Square and Amble Links Estate.

The X65 peak schoolday journeys are being withdrawn. They will be ‘partially replaced by the X15, but no facility for Newton on the Moor and Swarland as no students currently being carried’.

Further proposals for changes to services in Morpeth and the south east of the county were flagged up too, although these have not been finalised.

The presentation also details the company’s Low Floor Guarantee, which guarnatees disabled-accessible buses, clear information for users and contingency measures if for any reason the promise is not delivered.

The X18 service has a Low Floor Guarantee from February 3 when the changes come into effect, while the X20/20 service is due to follow in May.

The X15 service is not included in the guarantee as it is coach-operated.