Delighted passengers win fight for bus route

AN axed bus route will be reinstated following complaints from Morpeth shoppers.

The X18 service between Ashington and Newcastle was taken off by operator Arriva North East at the turn of the year due to rising fuel costs and low usage.

While much of the route was covered by alternative services, the decision left residents of the Wansbeck Estate in Stakeford struggling to access Morpeth for shopping trips, banking and other facilities.

And if they decided to use an alternative service from Guide Post, they faced a mile walk to the bus stop.

However, now it seems passenger power has paid off after Arriva said it would provide a limited shoppers’ service between Ashington and Morpeth, via Stakeford and the Wansbeck Estate, from Monday, April 2.

Passenger Anne Middlemiss, of Hillcrest Avenue, who formerly shopped three times a week in Morpeth, said: “That is lovely news. People had emailed the Morpeth Chamber of Trade, Arriva and Ian Lavery, the MP, and we heard there was a chance that we might be getting the bus back, but there was nothing solid.

“It has been much harder without it.

“People could get a bus from Guide Post, but it is a bit of a walk and sometimes you could be standing for 20 minutes waiting for a bus to Morpeth, or you would have to go to Ashington to get another one. It was taking as long to get to Morpeth as it does to go to Newcastle so people were saying they might as well just go to Newcastle.

“It would be fantastic to get the X18 back.”

Arriva North East Managing Director Nigel Featham said: “Service X18 had ceased to be commercially viable due to low passenger numbers, increased fuel prices and a cut in fuel duty rebate and was therefore withdrawn on January 2.

“However, we have listened to the opinions of our customers and following a review we have been able to restore some links, which is great news for the local community.

“Local residents will be able to use our new 18 service from April 2, 2012.”