Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eight Million Bus Trips a Year Start or End Here - Two Million by Pass Holders. How Will They Manage?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eight Million Bus Trips a Year Start or End Here - Two Million by Pass Holders. How Will They Manage?

Article excerpt

Byline: Kathryn Riddell Reporter

BUS passengers are being encouraged to air their views on the potential closure of a major city centre road.

Newcastle City Council has revealed plans to pedestrianise Blackett Street before the Great Exhibition of the North begins in the summer.

The experimental scheme would ban all buses and taxis from using the road in order to make the area safer for shoppers and improve air pollution.

But Dawn Badminton-Capps, director of Bus Users England, says some passengers have been concerned about the potential change to their bus route.

She said: "Eight million journeys start or stop on Blackett Street each year.

"That's a large number of people and a quarter of those people are bus pass holders.

"We're extremely concerned about what that will mean for those passengers if we don't allow buses through that street."

She also claims that the elderly and people with disabilities may have to walk further to reach their destination.

She said: "Passengers across Newcastle should have a say on what's going on.

"Where are people going to be getting on and off buses and how far will they have to walk? "Is it going to affect more vulnerable passengers? "We're concerned that moving the buses out to already busy roads will increase congestion, cause potentially more accidents and increase air pollution."

Newcastle City Council's proposals for Blackett Street are still being finalised, but the local authority has assured bus users that they won't be inconvenienced.

Members of Bus Users UK, along with a representative from Stage-coach North East and charity Disability North, travelled on buses around Newcastle on Friday and spoke to passengers about the plans.

Alison Blackburn, chair of Newcastle Disability forum and a blind bus passenger, said: "If the services on Blackett Street were to be got rid of I would find this extremely difficult."

"If those services are changed to somewhere else I have actually got to learn completely new routes around the city. …

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