A NEW eco-friendly bus service will be rolled out to link up some of Sunderland’s top destinations.
Transport chiefs have announced they will launch the “Sunderland Connect” 700 route next month using hybrid vehicles.
The service, similar to Newcastle and Gateshead’s Quaylink service, is expected to help ease parking problems, boost tourism income and plug important gaps in the city’s transport network.
It will include stops at the city centre, Sunderland Royal Hospital, St Peter’s, the Stadium of Light, the Aquatic Centre and Winter Gardens.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “The new route is fantastic news for the city’s economy because it provides a great way for people to easily reach a number of key city attractions.
“City centre businesses will really benefit from the extra visitors the new service will provide.”
The service, set up by transport executive Nexus in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Sunderland University, will also provide new links to student halls in Millfield.
It will be extended next summer to provide links for residents living near Dame Dorothy Street, and on to Sunderland Marina, giving residents and visitors access to the seafront.
The service announcement comes after calls from the heritage and tourism sectors to provide better links to both the seafront and the candidate World Heritage Site at St Peter’s Church in Monkwearmouth.
Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, said: “Sunderland Connect provides links to all the biggest attractions and amenities in and around the city centre.
“The route provides new local links for residents and students, while also creating an attractive and easy way for visitors to get around.”
Graeme Robinson, head of campus services at the university, said: “Entering into this partnership has allowed the University to greatly improve our inter-campus travel provision for our staff and students.
“The low-carbon technology used to provide the service was an important factor for us which will contribute further toward the great advances the University is making in reducing our carbon footprint.
“We are thrilled to be part of this project.”
New easy-access buses will be operated by Go North East, and feature a distinctive new livery and environmentally-friendly hybrid engines to keep down carbon emissions.
Martin Harris, commercial director of Go North East, said: “I am delighted that Go North East is delivering this new service on behalf of the partners and adding value to this important, innovative project in Sunderland”
The route will begin service on September 4, in time for the start of the new university year.