You’ll recall the suggestion that the M3 bus serving Lancaster Park might pick up more passengers if it was identified as the ‘Station Bus’ rather than having Stobhill on its destination board.
Well I’ve had a response from Northumberland CC, Richard Burley (Acting Network Officer Integrated Transport Unit) wrote:
“We are not sure it would be useful to market this service as a "station bus" as it doesn't go to the station (the turning circle by the station entrance has been unused for years [my italics]). If it did it wouldn't connect with the trains very well, and the bus doesn't run at commuter times, which is when we might possibly expect people to want to connect into the trains. We would be vulnerable to complaints if we ran a "station bus" in these circumstances. Also the M3 is no more a station bus than Arriva's 447/8 which runs along the same road from Kirkhill, more frequently.
“If a budget and other resources were available, we could perhaps prepare a leaflet to show all the town routes in Morpeth to promote buses more generally, taking into account possible changes to timetables at short notice. A simpler possibility might be to prepare a leaflet just for Astley's contracted services, mentioning that they go quite close to the station. In the longer term, consideration is currently being given to improving the junction between the station and A192 which might encourage commercial operators to provide better links to the station.”
Not really very encouraging!
Meanwhile note that the M3 bus more often than not now just has the signboard ‘Astley’ with no destination information. I’m told that Astley’s are interested in picking up more passengers – but don’t really want to engage NCC bureaucracy and who can blame them. However – I think they’d do very well to change the route by actually turning in to the station and marketing it as the station bus. I’d be more happy to ‘engage council bureaucracy’ in that cause!
But, the real prize, as Richard Burley suggests, is to get Arriva's buses to turn into the station. Apart from Town Centre and bus station, the 447 / 448 would also serve Kirkhill, Hepscott Park, Nedderton and Bedlington, the 343 and X18 would serve Guide Post etc. Perhaps this would be more appealing to Arriva if and when the Coopies Lane junction improvements are made.