On Thursday, July 23, I was waiting in Alnwick bus station for the 4.35pm Spirit bus to Rothbury.
I was approached by a rather anxious looking international visitor to the area, who I took to be a student, and noticed that she was travelling with another girl, who remained sitting on one of the seats.
In rather hesitant English she showed me her printed itinerary, which stated that she was to get the 4.30pm bus from Alnwick bus station to Edinburgh. She wanted to know if they were in the right place as there was no sign of their bus.
On looking around the bus station there was very little information about the buses and nothing at all about a bus to Edinburgh. The only thing I could do, as there was nobody around to ask, was to confirm that they were at Alnwick bus station, until the Spirit bus arrived.
I mentioned the problem to the friendly and very helpful Spirit bus driver, who said straight away that it must be a National Express London to Edinburgh service calling at Alnwick. He checked on his iPhone, confirmed that it should have arrived at the bus station at 4.30pm, but had been held up in traffic and had just reached Morpeth, so should arrive in Alnwick around 5pm.
He explained this to the girls, who looked very relieved that they had not missed their bus. They went back to their seat, in the dingy bus station, surrounded by rubbish.
The following questions went through my mind on the journey back to Rothbury.
Why is there not an arrivals and departures board for all buses which can be updated to show whether they are running on time or late? Why is there not an actual person to speak to if prospective passengers, international or otherwise, need help or advice?
Alnwick is a town of national importance, attracting visitors from all over the world, so why does it have a third rate bus station that can only be described as ‘grim’, with insufficient information available and no facilities?
Is Alnwick really serious about wanting to attract people to the town? And why do the people of Alnwick put up with such a poor bus station?
It just gives visitors using public transport a very bad first and last impression of the area. I can only imagine what the two girls were thinking as they continued waiting for their bus.