A DISABLED Morpeth pensioner is leading the fight to try to save an under-threat bus service.
Thomasina Massey, of Stobhill, has collected a 300-name petition against plans by bus operator Arriva to axe the 43 Cramlington service next month.
The route currently goes from Morpeth Bus Station to Stobhill, Hartford and Cramlington, but from Sunday, September 16, it will only run between Newcastle and Cramlington and any passengers travelling from Morpeth will have to change buses at Bedlington.
Mrs Massey says the changes will have a big impact on Morpeth residents, particularly older people who use the service for shopping trips.
“I have had to fight for buses so many times because this is cutting old people’s lifeline off,” she said.
“A lot of people are not able to walk down the street and they are putting Morrisons in Morpeth further away from the bus station now, with bad roads to get across, so more people would find it easier to go to Cramlington.
“The thing is, people can’t afford to shop in Morpeth. The shops in the precinct are not for working-class people and pensioners. I don’t care who you are, everybody is looking for a bargain these days, we have to.
“This is going to make a big difference to me personally. Because I’m disabled it’s not easy to get off one bus and on to another in Bedlington.”
The 65-year-old said the cuts will also affect workers.
“There are quite a few people from Morpeth who work in Cramlington, but now they are going to have to get a bus to Bedlington and then another one to Cramlington. It is going to put at least an hour on to people’s journeys. If they are working they might not get a connection in time.
“I go to Cramlington quite often and there is a girl gets on the bus who works there. She said she’s sick of changing her times at work because of the buses. Sometimes it’s an hour-and-a-half before she gets home — that is going to be even worse.
“It is going to put a lot of people off travelling.”
She added: “Cramlington is the best shopping centre around here for the likes of us and they are building a cinema there as well so there will be even more people wanting to use the bus.”
Mrs Massey is also concerned that the M3 service, which runs between Morpeth and the Stobhill estate is being changed, but Arriva says it will be replaced with a new 38 service, with no change to the route, while a 33 service will run on from Morpeth to Lancaster Park and Northgate Hospital.
Arriva North East Area Managing Director Nick Knox said: “It is important that we review our networks to ensure that we are consistently serving the majority of the people with the best possible routes and frequencies.
“From September 16 we will be making changes to our network that will see many improvements to our current services, with more buses per hour and faster journey times on many routes. These changes will see a simplified Morpeth to Newcastle journey, with buses running every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday, and every 30 to 60 minutes on evenings and Sundays.
“Unfortunately, there will be a few areas that will see a reduced service. This includes the service 43, which will no longer be running between Morpeth and Cramlington, however this is due to very few people travelling. Passengers can still travel between Morpeth and Cramlington by changing at Bedlington. We must make sure that the local communities we serve have a strong, sustainable network of bus services and these changes are part of that process.”
He added: “We can confirm that the service M3 is being replaced by the new 33 service between Morpeth and Lancaster Park/Northgate Hospital. There will also be a new 38 service between Morpeth and Stobhill Estate.”
All new timetables are available online at www.arrivabus.co.uk/north-east under the service update section, as well as from Blyth and Haymarket travel centres.