‘Use it or lose it’ warning over trial bus service

A MUCH-HERALDED bus service is already at risk just weeks into a six-month trial.

Stagecoach North East launched a new Sunday service between Ponteland and Newcastle last month in response to demand from passengers.

But while the initial passenger numbers looked strong, they have now fallen off and the operator has warned that if they remain at present levels the extra journeys will be withdrawn when the trial comes to an end.

Stagecoach North East Managing Director Phil Medlicott said: “We worked hard with the local council to listen to the people of Ponteland and their requirements, and responded with the new services.

“At the start of the trial we witnessed promising customer numbers onboard the new trial services, which we were extremely encouraged by. However, as time has passed these numbers have begun to decrease, rather than increase.

“If patronage doesn’t pick up then the service will unfortunately have to be withdrawn after the trial period, which we definitely don’t want to do.”

However, Mr Medlicott said passengers still have time to influence the company’s final decision on the service if they come out and support it.

He said: “We would urge those who originally wanted the services to be reinstated to use them, or risk losing them altogether.

“Our minds definitely aren’t made up and we hope to see the passenger numbers on services increase so we can continue running them.”

The Stagecoach X78 service runs between Ponteland and Newcastle City Centre, from 10.30am and 5.30pm, every Sunday.