Nexus today announced plans to permanently close its remaining six Travelshops in Tyne and Wear, which have been shut since the start of lockdown in March.
The public transport body said the shops were no longer needed as all the services they provided are available online, at ticket machines, or through the assistance of staff at bus and Metro stations.
It has begun an eight-week public consultation asking anyone who believes they may be adversely affected to get in touch, so they may be assisted to access alternative services.
Nexus said 17 employees who worked at the shops prior to lockdown will be found alternative roles in the organisation. Most have been working on bus stations to help maintain distancing and the use of face coverings, or in related customer service roles.
Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director at Nexus, said: “Our customers can now do almost everything they used to do across a counter faster and more conveniently online – people simply don’t need our shops any more.
“Our shops team have proved to be unsung heroes of the pandemic – switching overnight to frontline customer service roles offering reassuring presence to customers, and helping encourage social distancing and the use of face coverings. We will find alternative roles for all of them, working with customers on stations or in other parts of Nexus.
“Our Travelshops have been used less and less in the last decade as customer switched to Pop smart tickets and online purchase. These and other products, including Gold Card and Network One season tickets, can now be bought at ticket machines throughout the day and week, not just when shops were open.
“We speeded up our move online as a result of lockdown, and we have completed thousands of applications for older person’s concessionary travelcards and Under-16 identity cards online – these were things you could only apply for over a counter or by post before March.
“We have begun a public consultation so that anyone who is concerned they may be affected can get in touch for us to discuss alternatives, although only a handful of people have done this since the shops were closed suddenly at the start of lockdown.”
Nexus once had a network of 14 Travelshops, providing paper season tickets and photocards and stocking printed timetables and maps.
This had shrunk to six shops in the last ten years as consumer habits changed and people moved to smart cards and online information.
The shops were closed overnight on 23 March this year as the Government announced a national lockdown and have not since re-opened.
People can give their views at www.nexus.org.uk/consultation