Nexus is making changes to bus routes it provides in some parts of South Tyneside to better reflect local demand for services.
The changes, from 29th July, will open up new travel opportunities and a better balance with services run by commercial operators Stagecoach and Go North East in the borough.
A revised hourly 558 service, combining the existing 558 and 559 services, will provide a new direct link from Heworth Interchange via Hedworth Lane and the Boldons to Cleaburn, Whitburn and Seaburn.
In the Cotswolds Estate the existing 558 will be replaced by a change to the TB503 taxibus, which will in future run from South Shields town centre on its existing route through Laygate to Simonside, and then on a new route through the Cotswolds to Boldon Asda.
This provides new hourly daytime links from the Cotswolds to South Shields, and from Simonside to Asda, while keeping most of the existing route.
There will also be minor timetable changes to the 515 to make sure there is an even spread of buses on parts of routes that are shared.
The changes mean the TB503 will no longer serve the Scotch Estate and Low Simonside, where passenger numbers have been very low over the three years it has run so far, and where there are alternative bus routes to main destinations.
Bernard Garner, Director General of Nexus said: “Nexus provides bus services in South Tyneside to maintain local links not provided by commercial companies, and we review these regularly to make sure they are meeting local needs within the budget we have from local councils.
“Our most recent review identified ways to improve links in some areas, and because use of TB503 round Low Simonside is very low, the money it costs can be more effectively used elsewhere.
“I am sorry local people were not sufficiently consulted about this change. We are taking steps to ensure this does not happen in future, and we have now met with local councillors to explain the reasons for the change and to make sure the small number of people who use the TB503 in Low Simonside are advised of alternative services which are available.”
The Bede ward councillors, Arthur Meeks, Fay Cunningham and Margaret Peacock, have expressed their strong disappointment at the withdrawal of the TB503 service from the Scotch Estate and Low Simonside.
Councillor Meeks said: “We fought very hard to maintain the service in our ward and are extremely disappointed that the route is being changed. The main reason behind this decision was that very few people were using the service so it was definitely a case of ‘use it or lose it’. There was a lack of consultation but Nexus have apologised for that and have made a commitment that they will continue to review the situation in the future.”
Full details of the changes including the new timetables will be available on board buses and from the Nexus website later this month, before the changes take effect from Sunday, 29 July.