Pressure to make public transport more punctual

MOVES are under way to improve the punctuality of bus services in Ponteland.

The town council arranged to meet senior managers at Stagecoach to discuss a range of issues after it received complaints from residents who were finding the services unreliable.

Members of the authority are pleased that the company is already taking action to try to get their vehicles running closer to timetable at peak times and they have pledged to do all they can to help the situation.

To start, they are running a petition to try to convince Northumberland County Council to put in yellow lines near Darras Hall First School as they believe this will improve traffic flow.

At the meeting, Stagecoach explained that since the end of January, buses from other routes were being combined with those used on the Ponteland services so any late running vehicles are replaced at Eldon Square by an ‘on time’ bus. This had already brought better reliability to the network.

Ponteland Mayor Peter Cowey said: “It was a very productive meeting and good to hear that Stagecoach wasn’t disagreeing much with what we had to say.

“If there is a five or ten minute delay in Ponteland or Darras Hall, it is very difficult to make that up on the way to Newcastle. Therefore, we’re pleased that different buses will be used on the route, not just one going back and forward.

“The company is willing to look at what else it can do and the managers told us that it is developing a bar code technology for bus stops where people can use certain mobile phones to scan it and they will get live service updates.

“They also said there were some reasons for delays that were not in their control, such as inconsiderate parking by building contractors and by parents at school times in Darras Hall and roads on the bus route not being gritted during bad weather.

“We’re currently getting signatures for a petition to put yellow lines on one side of Middle Drive, where it meets Linden Way.

“This would create a pull-in for vehicles and help the traffic flow because at the moment buses are often getting stuck behind a row of parked cars.

“Hopefully, this will get things moving quickly with the county council.”

More meetings will take place in the coming year, with the next one scheduled for April.

In the meantime, residents can email their comments about bus services to bususers@pontelandtowncouncil.co.uk