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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Tynedale: Stagecoach committed to region

BUS company Stagecoach has assured passengers in Tynedale that it has no plans to walk away from the North-East in the wake of a proposed regionalisation of services.

The plans, led by Government-funded body Nexus, moved a step closer last week when a widespread consultation process came to an end.

The move would bring many main routes under local authority control, with bus companies bidding to provide services under a new quality contract scheme.

The popular TEN service, currently operated by Go North East between Hexham and Newcastle, and Stagecoach’s X77, X78 and X79 routes between Ponteland and Newcastle, would be included in the scheme.

The two companies are strongly opposed to the plans, which Nexus says would improve services and save money for passengers and the taxpayer.

Stagecoach and Go North East have suggested an alternative “voluntary partnership” scheme, with firms co-operating over routes, timetables and fares, and claim it would be more efficient and flexible.

However, Stagecoach has reaffirmed its commitment to Tynedale after comments by its chairman, Sir Brian Souter, were published online by trade magazine Passenger Transport earlier this month, in which he said the company may quit Tyne and Wear if Nexus’s proposals go ahead.

A Stagecoach spokesman said: “As well as doing what it takes to protect customers and the community from the negative consequences of bus contracts, we have also been clear that we will protect the business we have invested in and built up over many years.

“We remain committed to the North-East and we are fully focused on ensuring a partnership is the outcome from the current consultation process.”

A Nexus spokesman said the results of the consultation, which has included councils, trades unions, passenger groups and other interested parties, will be evaluated over the coming months.