Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

More Passengers Turn to the Metro

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

More Passengers Turn to the Metro

Article excerpt

Metro operator Nexus said yesterday the system was turning the corner as it announced passenger figures up by 517,000.

The figures were welcome news after disappointing passenger numbers on the Sunderland extension and the need for an injection of cash to balance this year's budget.

Nexus said the rise was due to improved punctuality and reliability on the system but was unable to say how many more people were using the Sunderland section of the network.

In the last financial year the number of passengers on Metro rose by 3.2m - well short of the 8.5m forecast for the extension's first year.

Nexus is aiming to attract 2.3m new passengers to the network by next March and says it is 25,000 ahead of the target.

Director general Mike Parker said: "Although it's very early days, we can clearly see more passengers getting on board every day.

"Thankfully, the recent problems we had with things like points and signals are well behind us now and we're back up to speed and running the kind of Metro service our passengers rightly expect.

"The recent changes to the timetable have also helped by allowing us to rationalise Metro services and ensure we get trains to where people want them when they want them there.

"It's clearly working as we've had emails and letters from passengers actually thanking us for sorting out the trains in their particular area."

Earlier this year, Nexus reduced the frequency of some services from 10 to 12 minutes, cut staff, raised concessionary fares and asked local authorities for more cash to bridge a pounds 10m gap in the public transport budget.

Last month, it launched Project 39 million, a bid to have 39 million people travelling on Metro by March 2004.

It has installed new CCTV cameras, brightened up stations and brought in a firm to check one in four tickets to recoup some of the pounds 1.5m currently lost through fare evasion every year.

Use it or lose it

Passengers across Tyneside are being warned to make more use of their local bus services - or risk losing them.

Transport chiefs at Nexus say at least seven services are in imminent danger of being withdrawn. …

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