Nexus today unveiled plans to completely overhaul bus routes it pays for in Tyne and Wear, improving local links in the city and its suburbs.
It has launched a consultation to ask local residents, businesses and public bodies to give their views on a major review of bus services, aimed at improving local and socially-important links.
The proposals are aimed at improving evening and Sunday services and links to local services and employment sites from neighbourhoods with little or no public transport.
Nexus is working with Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Sunderland councils plus bus companies on the Accessible Bus Network Design Project.
It has examined the routes it subsidises directly – about 10% of the whole network – to see where improvements can be made, and come up with list of proposed changes and new bus routes.
The central question Nexus is asking is: Do our buses get people where they want to go, and at the times they want to travel?
Tobyn Hughes, Director of Strategy at Nexus, said: “We want to hear from people whether they rely on the bus in daily life, use buses only occasionally or even if they don’t – but might consider doing so in future if services were re-organised.
“We are presenting our views on where the bus network can be improved, based on detailed research – but we want local people to tell us if we have got it right.”
A series of drop-in road shows will give residents the chance to see and comment on the plans, and talk to the people who drew them up, before final decisions are made.
People can also view the plans for each area online at www.nexus.org.uk/busstrategy and give your views.
The Consultation will run from 15 March to 4 June in Sunderland, Newcastle and Gateshead and begin in early June in North Tyneside, when full proposals for the district will be published. South Tyneside saw a similar consultation last year with a new network for the district set to be launched this summer.
Once views expressed in the consultation have been considered and final changes made as a result Nexus plans to launch the new local links in spring 2011.
Nexus has designed changes it can provide using existing funding, by focussing its spending more cost-effectively and withdrawing the LinkUp demand responsive service in favour of fixed bus routes.
If the consultation with local people demonstrates a need for further changes or new services Nexus hopes to be able to pay for these by working in different ways with bus operators or seeking new funding routes.
Nexus is also considering giving the routes paid for with public money their own unique brand and fare structure.
All consultation materials are available from via the Bus Strategy link on the Nexus website (www.nexus.org.uk), as well as printed copies available from local venues and on request from Nexus.
There are also details on the site about where and when community roadshow events will be taking place during April and May.