A new bus route expected to make journeys easier for passengers has opened in Sunderland city centre.
The direct route, which runs north from Fawcett Street along Bridge Street to the junction and roundabout at the south of the Wearmouth bridge, went 'live' yesterday.
More than 700 buses are expected to use the route on weekdays. The route is open to other traffic exiting Fawcett Street.
Sunderland City Council completed the new route along Bridge Street for buses as part of its improvements works in and along High Street West.
Coun Michael Mordey, Portfolio Holder for City Services, said: "We all know that over time our streets change, and traffic movements change, and this is what we've addressed here on Bridge Street.
"As buses head north out of Fawcett Street, they can now cross High Street West, move into Bridge Street and then straight to the roundabout with more direct access for routes west, north or east.
"It is expected that buses and their passengers will get the most benefits, but other traffic also now has a more direct route onto the roundabout."
Bus companies and Nexus have supported the works, with main contractor Lumsden and Carroll joining Aurora and Regional Traffic Signals Service as sub-contractors.
Stephen King, Head of Commercial and Retail at Go North East, said: "We fully support bus priorities to help the people of Sunderland get around the city by bus. The introduction of this dedicated bus lane will help us provide a quick and reliable service on those routes which cross the river."
David Parker, Head of Commercial, Stagecoach North East, said: "Highways infrastructure is widely recognised as the key factor in improving bus journey times, helping to make public transport even more attractive and sustainable.
"As this new facility will help to reduce the journey times for thousands of Stagecoach customers across Sunderland every week, we are absolutely delighted to see its introduction."
The council said works in High Street West, and the new route along Bridge Street, are part of the its on-going programme of investments to Sunderland's built-up environment.
In the next 12 months, more than £100million is to be invested with a further £163million planned in the following three years.
Coun Mordey added: "We have to keep investing in our infrastructure and by investing in it we are able to attract private sector and business investment that creates jobs and economic growth."