That's Life | Let’s take a ride | Simon Walker

IN THE ZONE: The new bus routes will hopefully get you where you've got to go without too much pain.
IN THE ZONE: The new bus routes will hopefully get you where you've got to go without too much pain.

The old Newcastle bus routes and timetables terminate tonight and it’s all aboard for the new ones tomorrow.

The biggest upheaval since 2008, according to new private owners Keolis Downer, bringing more  modes, nodes and roads. They don’t mention confusion, but I’m sure we’ll adjust because in the absence of any, what choice is there?

Personally I”m looking forward to the disruption, I mean progress, because I made a  resolution this year about   “Happy new year – let’s make it a good one”.

Not sure a wholesale revamp of the public transport system fits the category but clearly when someone mentioned Newcastle See Change, they weren’t joking. 

So vale my beloved 222, see you later trusty old 230, it was nice knowing you 363.

Of course many of these tried and tested workhorses are going to be re-badged as things like 11, 12 and so on. And those boutique routes like the old 222, which weaved a slightly obscure path close to my house for so many years, offering me an express and often uncrowded Mercedes Benz mainline to the CBD will be, if not exterminated, recreated not so close to my house.

As the new 23 as a matter of fact, which may harken to the old 230, which it isn’t, but which route it  seems to follow nearly exactly, just not as regularly. I’m hearing similar stories of readjustment across the network..

I could rebel and not use the system but the truth is I don’t always get dibs on a car and besides, I’m fond of Newcastle buses.

Particularly when that last bus for the night, the one you thought you missed, turns up and saves you from having to walk home in the rain. I’m hoping there’s more of those under the new system.  

Newcastle buses have transported me to some of the most momentous and forgettable moments of my life – often on the same trip. And I’m trusting there’s more of that (I think). To social functions where romance took off or tanked. To connecting transport systems where  you made that train that made that plane that didn’t involve trackwork. To suburbs I never knew existed until I got on the wrong bus. I’m guessing I’ll be discovering new suburbs I never knew existed under the new network.

Safety is always an issue and talk of getting mugged is often mentioned but in my many years on the buses, people are generally happy to talk to you or themselves without too much malice. I’m expecting the same talk on the new routes, probably about the new routes. Hopefully happy talk.

These new routes seem to herald a more “north-south” focus between  shopping centres. Keolis Downer says this was something screaming out from the  surveys, and so long as they were surveying commuters and not  shopping centre operators, I’ll roll with that. Because again, what choice do I have?

It’s the next piece in the Newcastle transport puzzle, which has been quite puzzling,  and until I get a handle on the new set-up, will probably remain so. But experience teaches us that experience teaches us – so in the spirit of my new years resolution, hear’s hoping it’s a good experience.


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