Uncertainty over hope for new Alnwick bus station

Hopes that funding could be earmarked for a new bus station in Alnwick appear to be hanging in the balance.
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A replacement for the bus station - considered by some to be one of town’s biggest eyesores – had been an aspiration of an £804 million regional funding bid last autumn.

However, it was revealed last week by the Department for Transport (DfT) that a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) for the region has won £163.5m of Government backing – well short of what was wanted.

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Decision-makers will now have to choose which projects go ahead and which are shelved.

Alnwick bus station.Alnwick bus station.
Alnwick bus station.

Transport North East says that in the coming months it will be working closely with local authorities, bus operators and other stakeholders to identify the priority projects for investment. Further detail will be announced in due course.

Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Transport North East, said: “This announcement is great news for the region. The government has clearly recognised how important bus and Metro services are to the North East.

“The award of £7.3m of funding for the Metro will allow services to be fully maintained over the next few months.

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“Furthermore, I am very pleased that the government agrees that our Bus Service Improvement Plan is worthy of major investment.

"We put forward a very strong plan, developed collaboratively with bus operators, Nexus, local authority partners, and a range of other supporters of bus services. This has been recognised by a funding award of £163.5 million over three years.

"This breaks down as £73,758,353 capital to prioritise buses on busy routes, and £89,762,819 revenue to support improved fares and services for local people – one of the highest allocations in the country.

"This funding will allow us to dramatically transform bus services across the North East, greatly improving the bus network for millions of passengers and encouraging more people to make the switch to bus.

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“We will continue our work on the Enhanced Partnership Scheme in order to unlock the payment of the indicative funding as soon as possible.”

The original BSIP proposals had included:

A single ticket that would allow unlimited travel across all bus, Metro, and ferry services in Tyne and Wear, County Durham, and Northumberland, plus rail services between Sunderland, Newcastle, the Metrocentre and Blaydon. The multi-modal ticket could be capped at between £4 and £6.80 daily depending how far across the region you travel;

Cheaper tickets for under-19s, with a £1.20 fare for single tickets and a £2.50 region-wide multi-modal fare cap;

A trial of free bus travel for under-12s during summer 2022;

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A pledge for all buses in the region to be either zero-emission or the highest emission standard for conventional buses by March 2025, plus a trial of hydrogen-powered buses;

All buses to be fitted with charging points and wifi as standard;

Upgraded stations and shelters, with more real-time service updates and improved CCTV and lighting;

More early morning, evening, and overnight services, and improved access to the most rural areas of County Durham and Northumberland;

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New “Superbus” corridors giving maximum priority to buses on the busiest routes in and out of city centres and to five new “major” out-of-town Park and Ride sites;

New bus stations would be delivered in Durham, Alnwick, Bishop Auckland and an additional Newcastle city centre bus station.