The Tyne and Wear Metro is the UK's busiest light rail system outside London. It carries around 37 million passengers a year, and is the backbone of our region's public transport. The system is owned and run by Nexus, and has 60 stations with trains running up to every three minutes at peak times. Metro has led the way in innovation - as the UK’s first modern light rail service, the first to be designed with disabled people in mind, the first to be non-smoking and the first to provide mobile phone and internet reception through its tunnels.
Since opening in 1980 it has been extended to Newcastle Airport (in 1991), providing a 20-minute link to Newcastle city centre, and then in 2002 through Sunderland city centre to South Hylton. New stations have since opened at Northumberland Park and Simonside. We are now delivering a £350m programme to renew and upgrade Metro, the most cost-efficient urban rail network in the UK, between 2010 and 2021. A new train fleet will be introduced from 2023.
Bus services in Tyne and Wear are provided by private companies in a free market, and these define and operate 90% of routes without regulation or subsidy. Nexus monitors bus service performance and secures the remaining approximate ten percent of routes, around 300 services or parts of services, by subsidy on behalf of the North East Combined Authority. We do this to help ensure communities retain a bus service, particularly early in the morning, at nights and at weekends, where commercial operators are otherwise unwilling to operate. These services are also important in maintaining direct links to about 60 schools as well as workplaces and hospitals.
- Manages bus stations at Park Lane Sunderland, Eldon Square and Haymarket Newcastle, Gateshead Interchange, Wallsend, Jarrow, Blaydon and South Shields
- Specifies high standards for emissions and accessibility on the bus services we secure
- Encourages innovations such as real time information, eco-friendly vehicles and bus priority schemes across the network
Nexus is exploring new ways to plan and provide bus services in a bid to halt a long-term decline in passenger numbers that threatens the future of local routes.
There has been a cross-Tyne ferry service between North and South Shields since at least the 14th century. Nexus runs the only remaining passenger ferry on the Tyne, which carries about 400,000 passengers per year. As well as running a passenger service, the ferry offers private and charity hires up and down the Tyne.
Concessionary Travel Schemes
Residents of Tyne and Wear enjoy several Concessionary Travel Schemes administered by Nexus which provide reduced price travel on different modes of transport in the county. An estimated 50 million journeys per annum are made by elderly and disabled persons and 10 million by children (see below). The current annual budget for the provision of Concessionary Travel is £46.5m.
Under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme, older and disabled persons are able to enjoy free local bus travel anywhere in England, between 9.30am and 11.00pm on weekdays and up to 11.00pm on other days. Eligible persons in Tyne and Wear must apply for a smart card from Nexus to enjoy this benefit.
Tyne and Wear has among the largest take-up of concessionary travel passes, and the highest use of travel, in the country. This puts great pressure on the Nexus budget as it must reimburse bus companies for journeys made by passholders. Nexus has, however, been able to extend the English scheme within Tyne and Wear using local funding to provide the following additional benefits:
- Free travel before 9.30am for those passholders with a hospital appointment, either to or from the hospital
- Free travel until the last bus of the evening, even where this is after 11pm
- All day travel where it is needed for eligible disabled persons attending work or education more than 15 hours a week
- Free travel by a companion for passholders in receipt of some higher levels of disability benefits who woul otherwise be unable to make a journey
- The opportunity to buy a Metro Gold Card, giving unlimited travel on Metro and the Shields Ferry at concessionary travel times. Gold Card is also available to non-residents
- A concessionary fare on the Shields Ferry and Newcastle-Metrocentre-Blaydon trains
Helping people with restricted mobility
One of our objectives is to provide greater personal accessibility to the people of Tyne and Wear; 22% of the population have some form of disability, life-limiting long term illness, or other mobility difficulties.
Nexus provides a TaxiCard scheme in which members get discounted door-to-door travel with local taxi operators, with whom they book journeys directly. We also provide additions to the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme listed above. By working with bus companies and continually reviewing and improving conventional public transport we hope to encourage more disabled people to use mainstream services - and make those services easier to use - increasing choice and lessening reliance on special transport measures that are by their nature less available.
Helping people in education and training
Nexus is committed to helping young people attend and continue education through cheaper travel and providing specialist services. We provide more than 300 scholars’ bus services used by pupils attending more than 90 schools. These services carry 2.24 million passengers every year. This network means that 95% of children in Tyne and Wear live within 40 minutes journey time by public transport of an appropriate school.
Nexus provides residents among the cheapest child concessionary fares in the UK, using local council funding to provide unlimited travel on all local public transport. To be entitled to concessions a child must hold a Pop Under 16 Card available up to the end of the full academic year in which a child reaches the age of 16. Children under the age of 5, accompanied by a fare-paying adult, travel free.
Anyone over 16 can travel for a discounted flat fare on any dedicated school bus we provide, while our Metro 16-18 card offers half price travel and our Metro student card offers a 20% discount against normal prices for eligible passengers.