Newcastle bus changes anger Hamilton's Beaumont Street traders

OFF THE GRID: Hamilton Chamber of Commerce president and business owner Nathan Errington fears a drop in turnover when buses stop running down Beaumont Street. Picture: Peter Stoop
OFF THE GRID: Hamilton Chamber of Commerce president and business owner Nathan Errington fears a drop in turnover when buses stop running down Beaumont Street. Picture: Peter Stoop

Hamilton Chamber of Commerce fears the loss of a bus service along Beaumont Street will hurt traders and has criticised Keolis Downer for a lack of consultation on the changes.

The private transport operator will the replace 201 route down Beaumont Street with buses dropping passengers on Tudor Street and Donald Street when it launches its new network on Sunday.

Chamber president Nathan Errington said his group would monitor turnover in the coming weeks to see if the changes had affected business owners. 

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“They are definitely upset. We will lose, we reckon, a lot of people for convenience, because we are the only street in Newcastle that has all different varieties of services,” he said.

“Who wants to walk up Beaumont Street when they can get into Marketown straight away?

“Especially, who uses those bus services? The elderly. Elderly people do not have the internet, do not have Facebook. They don’t know what they’re going to do next week. Are they going to walk up there? I’d like to see. We don’t know that.”  

Keolis Downer said Opal data showed that more than 85 per cent of travellers to the Hamilton area used the Donald and Tudor street stops.

A spokesman said it had worked hard to keep the community informed and distributed 26,000 timetables since announcing the new routes on November 30.

But Mr Errington, who is losing a bus stop outside his newsagency, said businesses were not aware of the 201’s demise until signs went up at stops on December 28.

“We knew that they were looking at bus changes, but we wouldn’t think that a main street like Hamilton would be cut,” he said.

“It all comes down to community consultation. The chamber would have known about this months before to talk to the business community and see if we can change it, but two or three weeks out it’s too late.” 

From Sunday, the high-frequency 13 bus, plus four others, will go along Tudor Street, and the 12 will travel every 15 minutes along Donald Street on weekdays.

“We will continue to challenge Keolis Downer about the changes and will work with our community to communicate what little information is being provided by them,” Mr Errington said. 

Meanwhile, unemployed Cardiff man Michael Cooke said the new network could affect his search for a job.

Mr Cooke, who has lived in Cardiff for 26 years, said the new routes would increase his travel times and cut down his transport options.

“I don't have a car. I've been using public transport my whole life. I find it cheaper and easier,” he said.

“My big concern is getting to my courses on time and getting home. I have to be careful about where I’ll be working.”

He believes the new timetable will shrink the range of where he will be able to look for work and make it more difficult to see his three-year-old son, who lives with his ex-wife in Garden Suburb.

He said he had called Keolis Downer to express his concerns but felt as through he had been fobbed off.

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