New operator ensures continuation of bus service in rural Northumberland

PCL Travel already runs bus services linking the likes of Morpeth and Stannington.
PCL Travel already runs bus services linking the likes of Morpeth and Stannington.

A new operator has been commissioned to take over a rural bus route in the Coquet Valley, securing the continuation of the service from next month.

Northumberland County Council has worked swiftly to recommission a replacement service and, following a tendering exercise, PCL Travel, a small firm based in the county, will take on the contract.

Spirit Buses will cease operating on the route on Saturday, November 5, and PCL will commence operation on Monday, November 7, providing continuity of the key transport link for the Coquetdale community.

In addition, PCL will operate two extra commercial services between Morpeth and Thropton to provide convenient, onward travel.

The new appointment has been given the blessing and cooperation of Spirit Buses’ Steve Hurst, who has been running the service since 2014. Over the coming weeks, he will be supporting PCL staff and helping them to get to know the route and the informal stopping locations.

Ward member for the area, Coun Steven Bridgett said: “I am very pleased the council has been able to secure a new contractor to take over the routes currently provided by Spirit Buses. I would like to thank Steve Hurst for developing these routes and providing a much-needed lifeline to some of our more rural residents in Coquetdale.

“Can I offer my congratulations to PCL who will be taking over the routes and thank them for maintaining this much-valued service.”

Around 20,000 residents and tourists use the service each year to get from the valley to Alnwick, Morpeth and beyond.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, the county council’s cabinet member for local services, said: “We are aware of the importance of maintaining this rural transport link which is invaluable to many residents in the isolated communities of the Coquet Valley, especially the elderly.

“I know our staff have pulled out all the stops to make sure the route was recommissioned and while we are very sorry that Spirit Buses will cease trading, we are delighted that we can provide a seamless transition in the bus service for local residents.”