A SHUTTLE service which ferries university staff and students around campuses and visitors to popular city spots has moved up a gear.
The Sunderland Connect service was launched a year ago to offer a quick way to reach attractions, university halls and buildings and the city centre.
Now, as the new academic year gets under way and to meet demand because of its popularity, it has been expanded to run every 15 minutes during the day, rather than every half hour.
The fleet of environmentally-friendly hybrid buses used to run the route has also given a boost, with a third vehicle drafted in.
It is hoped the service will help boost visitor numbers and as well as showcase the city’s highlights.
The service, also known as the 700, was launched by Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland and Nexus, which also runs operates the buses.
Coun James Blackburn, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for city services, and Shirley Atkinson, deputy vice-chancellor of the university, welcomed the boost to the route.
They were given an insight into its success as it pulled up at Sunderland Aquatic Centre, one of the attractions where it makes a stop.
Coun Blackburn said: “It’s always good to see new public transport services launched.
“It’s great to see now that building on a successful launch, we can increase the frequency of this convenient and popular Sunderland Connect service.”
The vice-chancellor added: “Mobility around the city and its attractions is important to our students and staff, and to residents and visitors to the city.
“We are pleased to be a partner in this innovative approach to ‘green’ public transport.”
Sunderland Connect runs every 15 minutes, Monday to Saturday daytime, and every 30 minutes at other times.
Stops include The Bridges, Sunderland Royal Hospital, the Sunderland Empire, Stadium of Light and Aquatic Centre, National Glass Centre, St Peter’s Church and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.
It also takes in the university’s city-centre and St Peter’s campuses and halls of residents.
Passengers can enjoy Campus Trails as they travel, a new mobile phone app which offers a digital experience about Sunderland’s history and future plans.
The app, designed by artist Dr Tim Brennan, aims to celebrate Sunderland’s distinctiveness and highlight the university’s role within the city’s history and culture.
Mobile mapping technology provides commuters with a digital presentation of the city’s past, present and future, relating to things they can see out of the window.
Students and staff can travel free with their university ID, otherwise a single ticket on Sunderland Connect is £1.20 and an all-day ticket just £2, allowing people to hop on and off as they wish.
Children can travel for £1.10 all day with an Under-16 Pop card, or 80p single.
Passengers whose journey includes other Go North East services can buy or use a Buzz-fare or Get Around ticket for schoolchildren and students.