Sunderland bus services shake-up gets the green light

SHAKE-UP ... it's all change on the buses.
SHAKE-UP ... it's all change on the buses.
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BUS services in Sunderland are to take a new route after transport bosses today rubber-stamped a ‘London-style’ system.

In the biggest transport shake-up in a generation, the North East Combined Authority – made up of all seven of the region’s councils, including Sunderland – approved proposals for new bus contracts at a meeting in Newcastle Civic Centre.

The publicly-run quality contract scheme will be managed by transport executive Nexus on behalf of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA).

The authority will now have the final say over where services should run as well as setting timetables.

And bus operators would then have to bid for the right to run routes.

Nexus have claimed the plan would save £8m or be re-invested into bus services, while reducing the profits going to bus company shareholders from £20m to £12m a year.

But today’s decision is a bitter blow to bus operators Go North East, Stagecoach and Arriva.

They have claimed the quality contracts will be the most expensive option to taxpayers.

The proposals will now be referred to an independent board chaired by a traffic commissioner and supported by two industry experts.

The board will rule on whether the correct process has been followed in developing the bus contracts scheme and if the plans pass five key public interest tests.