Letters, Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Have your say

Metro Gold Card is still great value

POOR Bill Riley – he won’t be bothering to buy another Metro Gold Card, the concessionary scheme for pensioners using the Metro.

Knowing many pensioners as I do, I think he’s in the minority. Just £25 for a year’s travel is nothing. Considering that I pay £6.50 a time for the cheapest option, a Day Rover ticket, to use bus connections and the Metro (I need to do so as, unlike Mr Riley, I live nowhere near a Metro station) then it adds up to being great value.

Within four trips you’ve recouped the value. So every journey after the first four is effectively free.

Those pensioners I know who use the ticket have said they don’t mind paying £25 as they see it as still being excellent value. Mr Riley said he used the Metro all the time – so he certainly isn’t being diddled with the new price and needs to take a reality check rather than being “furious”.

Many pensioners say they would be willing to pay a contribution to bus and Metro travel as they realise that passengers, particularly children, are being priced off public transport. With fuel price rises, there are bound to be fare increases soon.

At a time when jobs are hard to come by and the cash in your pocket is worth less, the younger generation is struggling with rising household costs that have outstripped wages thanks to an unaffordable housing market that the older generation has created, Mr Riley wants to think himself lucky. He has an option with his free pass. Those low-paid workers or those seeking jobs just have to foot the bill.

They’d jump at the chance of a year’s Metro pass for £25.

D. Alanson, Herrington

WHILE on the face of it, an increase to £25 for the Metro Gold Card (seems excessive, I would urge readers to have a little context.

Metro fares have been steadily increasing year on year while the Gold Card price has remained frozen for four years.

The £25 cost can be simplified thus: a single one zone ticket is £1.50. At this price a journey from Sunderland to South Hylton and back again could be carried out only eight times.

Compare this to being able to travel as far as one wants on the Metro system as many times as one wants in a whole year and the one-off fee seems a small price to pay.

For elderly and disabled passengers the speed and ease of using the Metro must far outweigh using a bus with a free bus pass with limited space for disabled users (though I’m not criticising the bus network, which in my experience is very good).

Debbie Lorraine, Hendon

I’VE just read the article about the price increase of the Metro Gold Card, and could not believe what I had read. (Echo, February 7). For Bill Riley to say that he will never use the Metro again because of the “ridiculous” price increase is unbelievable.

 To be able to travel to Sunderland, Newcastle, South Shields, Whitley Bay or the airport, at any time after 9.30 on weekdays or all day at weekends for less than 50p a week is the bargain of the century.

 When you consider that the normal price of a single journey is something like £2.40, paying 50p for a week’s travel is “the real deal”.

I live in East Boldon and have easy access to the Metro, which I use nearly every day.

It is far more convenient and quicker than buses and they usually run on time.

I would quite happily pay £100 a year, because even at £2 a week, this is still a bargain.

Just be grateful that Nexus is still offering a Gold Card, as this could quite easily have been withdrawn.

JM, East Boldon

I READ in the Echo about someone moaning about the increase in the cost of the Metro Gold Card.

The percentage increase may be excessive , but we are talking about an increase of 3.5 pence per day for 365 days’ use.

In real terms this amounts to the following:

One pint of beer is equal to about 60 days travel.

Twenty cigarettes is equal to about 150 days travel.

One ticket to The Stadium of Light about two years’ travel.

The figures are based on the “additional charge” only and are rough calculations, depending on the quality of the items and the place of purchase.

I am a retired person and consider the cost to be very good value

The South Hylton bus service is not very good and the Metro is most welcome by most travellers.

Anyone who is a regular Gold Card user of the Metro should be pleased with the overall low cost.

Metro user, South Hylton

MP’s expenses

LAST week local MP Sharon Hodgson said all of her expenses were above board.

That may well be, but please remember in May 2009 she derided another MP for trying to claim £650 for bedding, when she could get a good set of bedding from Matalan for £15.

That’s all well and good until you find out she claimed £648 for a fridge freezer and £356 for a “luxury” mattress.

A quick scan of the internet will get you a fridge freezer from a major high street retailer for only £150 and Amazon will also deliver a king-size mattress for less than half the price she paid for one.

If it was her money and not the taxpayers’ she was spending, would she have been keen to spend nearly £1,000 when £300 would of done the job?

I doubt it.

Peter Clavering

Edited letters

I HAVE to agree with Coun Peter Wood (“The Right to Write”), about readers’ views in the Letters Page being cut out by editors because they don’t agree with the views being expressed by their readers.

The whole point of writing in is to express your personal views, political or otherwise, no matter who you are.

Censoring people’s letters like they did during the war years makes a mockery of the whole exercise.

D.J. Wright,

Appley Terrace,


* Letters are edited, or indeed not published, for many reasons, but never because the Editor or Letters Editor happens not to agree with the writer’s point of view. – Letters Editor

Year at college

FOR the benefit of Bob Stothard from Washington, I did spend a year at Fircroft College after being awarded a TUC scholarship.

I started work at Wearmouth Colliery after leaving school at the age of 15. After a few weeks on the surface I worked underground  for 40 years. By the time I went off to Fircroft I had 25 years’ work under my belt with 22 years at the pick point.

Entering Fircroft courtesy of the TUC was a privilege for which I was grateful and always will be. Unlike Bob Stothard I did not have money thrown at me from various sources.  College fees were paid by the TUC and I received from them a cash allowance of £100 for the year.

Money I had managed to save during the years I had worked was used to pay for unnecessary luxuries such as the mortgage on my little two-bedroomed bungalow in East Herrington where we still live.

If that is judged by Bob Stothard to be privileged, so be it.   

Ron Metcalfe, Warwick Drive, Sunderland

Blair and NHS

W. QUINN in his letter of February 4 refers to a letter of mine published on January 26. In fact, there was no letter from me published on that date.

In his letter he displays a typical Labour holier-than-thou image on the NHS. However, we remember Blair pushed through his heavily criticised NHS reforms by buying off the Labour backbenchers with the Hunting Bill.

A classic example of Labour class prejudice and dogma over true conviction.

Who are Labour to criticise?

Coun Alan Wright, Conservative,

St Chad’s Ward

Food for thought

ONCE upon a time there was a rule that people could not eat or drink in Sunderland’s libraries.

Now the Central Library in Fawcett Street has a vending machine where you can buy crisps and chocolate.

The times are certainly a-changing.

Alicia Peace, Chester Road, Sunderland

Thanks for help

I WOULD like to thank the young ladies who came to my assistance when I had a bad fall outside Byron Place, Seaham, and especially to the gentleman and his wife who gave me a lift home.

Mrs A. Everist, Laurel Avenue, Seaham