New shopper service gets a lift

A HOPPER bus service is up and running in Ponteland.

The 14-seater vehicle is in operation each Friday to help those who do not have access to their own transport during the day and live a significant distance away from a bus stop.

More than a dozen people have registered their interest to be taken to places such as the main health centre in Meadowfield, shops in Merton Way and bus stops that a few different services go to so they can travel onwards.

Each user pays £2 to register for the community scheme, operated by Adapt North East, and a return fare is £2 –much lower than a usual taxi fare.

Ponteland West county councillor Veronica Jones worked with Ponteland Community Partnership, Town Council and Medical Group to get it up and running.

The health centre has agreed to work with residents to schedule appointments around the bus times.

Coun Jones said: “It has been very well received so far. We did a presentation about the scheme at one of our councillor surgeries and people were very supportive.

“It’s early days, but I think the bus will be well used once it fully establishes itself. People can use it to go to appointments or shopping, but they can also go from one street to another to visit a friend or relative if they want.

“I was delighted that we got the money in place because there are quite a few isolated residents on the edges of Ponteland.”

She added that those involved are advertising the service as best they can and it is hoped that residents will also be made aware of it through word-of-mouth.

A total of £150,758 of Government transport funding was ring-fenced by Northumberland County Council and a panel approved about £5,000 for the Ponteland scheme.

The town council also agreed to give £1,000 over two financial years to help with the project’s costs.

To make an arrangement to use the bus, telephone Adapt North East on 01434 600599 by no later than noon on a Thursday.