Go North East bus company accused of ‘salami slicing’ services

A bus company has been attacked by a Labour MP for “salami slicing” services after it emerges 80 journeys a day have disappeared under a rerouting programme.

Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson has criticised Go North East for cuts to bus services across Tyne and Wear, citing a study by Passenger Transport Executive Nexus.

Sunderland is shouldering most of the burden, the MP says, with changes to routes and timetables to the 35, 35A, 35B and 35C services.

The MP says her office has fielded calls from people worried about links to schools and health facilities.

She adds it is difficult to compare the new route map and timetable information with previous versions and people have concerns that the re-routing of the 35 services will significantly disrupt journeys to nearby GP practices in Silksworth, Herrington and Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Children may also have to take longer journeys to schools such as the Venerable Bede Academy because they will have to change buses.

Go North East said the changes will simplify services, but four variations have already been made to routes 35, 35A and 36 since November.

The MP said:

“The volume of service changes implemented by Go North East this week is likely to cause a great deal of confusion and inconvenience to many people.

“I have received many emails and phone calls from worried constituents expressing their concerns over changes to the route 35 service.

“Go North East say this is about simplifying things, but there have been 15 variations in this route since 2011 and I cannot see how this constant chopping and changing is making things simpler. The new route maps and timetables are also presented differently from older versions.

“People are understandably angry about the fact that four services have been reduced to three. Across the region estimates show that as many as 80 routes a day will be cut.

“Go North East should explain why these changes are being implemented and how they are in the best interest of passengers.

“This salami slicing of services shows exactly why we must introduce a London-style bus network with stable routes, oyster style ticketing and fines for operators when they fail to live up to their promises.”

Managing director of Go North East Kevin Carr, said the changes were introduced after a consultation with Nexus and customers.

He said many of the services now travelled closer to shops.

He said: “We are the number one bus operator in Sunderland and it’s really important that we adapt our services to meet customers’ needs.”

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 30 Jan 2015

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