No Arriva buses through village
Concerns have been raised about the impact of an upcoming change to a bus service route in Alnmouth.
At the moment, some of the Arriva North East X18 journeys go round the village loop and some only go as far as the war memorial roundabout, with drivers then going around the roundabout to effectively do a u-turn.
But from Sunday, none of these buses will travel to the centre of Alnmouth village for a trial period.
The company says it is doing this because services ‘can be severely delayed by traffic congestion and parking issues in the area’.
A meeting to discuss the bus service took place in September. As well as Arriva North East representatives, members of Alnmouth Parish Council, other local residents and county councillors Gordon Castle and Robbie Moore were in attendance.
Alnmouth Parish Council chairman Shaun Whyte said: “We would vehemently dispute that delays in the timetable are caused by congestion and parking in the village.
“We believe that the one-way system in the village (it was put in place in November 2016) works very well and traffic flow is much smoother these days.
“Parking is a problem, but only insofar as there is not enough in the places where people want to park. Parking is never a cause of traffic holdups.
“One of the arguments in favour of the one-way system was to help the buses.
“The winter time table is supposed to be an experiment to be reviewed in the New Year.
“Our county councillors have promised to escalate this issue within County Hall and the parish council will continue to put pressure on Arriva to reinstate the service through the village to help residents, many of whom are elderly and currently have a long trek to the only stops on Shepherds Hill.
“Inevitably, many residents fear that the changes in the timetable presage further erosion of the service such that it is only a matter of time before the village is permanently excluded from the timetable all together.
“We recognise that Arriva owes a responsibility to its shareholders, but also feel that this should not totally outweigh its responsibility to its customers, particularly those in one of the busiest tourist villages in the county.
“Arriva’s actions threaten the virtuous circle of a good service attracting more customers.
A poor service almost forces people to use their car if indeed they have that option.”
He added that the change will mean more buses turning around at the war memorial roundabout, which he describes as “a dangerous manoeuvre”.
An Arriva North East bus became embedded in the railings at this roundabout in August.
A spokesman for the company said: “Arriva North East has an obligation to run punctual bus services for everyone who uses them.
“From Sunday, November 4, we will be withdrawing all X18 journeys from the centre of Alnmouth village because we have identified that buses can be severely delayed by traffic congestion and parking issues in the area.
“We discussed the concerns raised by the parish council and local residents in a meeting at the end of September. We have therefore agreed to treat the revised route as a trial and we will review it again over the winter to establish the impact of it.
“If the results of the upcoming trial show that the revised route has no impact on the punctuality of the X18, we would return some buses to the centre of Alnmouth from the start of the summer 2019 timetable.”