NEWCASTLE Transport operator Keolis Downer says there “is no reason why” its Christmas bus will not remain on the road, despite speculation the staff-run initiative may be discontinued.
The future of the festive-themed bus appeared up in the air at the weekend, after it emerged on social media this year could be its final journey.
Entering its 22nd year, the bus has become an iconic tradition of the Newcastle bus network and city at-large.
Each year, it is covered in decorations and drives around playing jingles, much to the delight of surprised first-time riders. Such is the popularity of the bus, it has its own Facebook page which has more than 1400 likes.
But a post on the page suggested this could be the last year for the festive set of wheels, leaving Facebook users with mixed emotions.
“Let’s catch it one last time,” Jobi Moane said. “It’s a shame to see the end of an era,” Elise Daniel said.
Danielle Hocking commented: “Thank you for 22 years of spreading joy, happiness and festive feelings”.
The Newcastle Herald understands the bus has been decked out each year by employees in voluntary time with their own decorations.
It is believed a lack of company support has led to a decision to pull the pin for next year.
Such a move would end the long-running and much loved piece of the city’s public transport system.
Ashtonfield’s Kayrn Mackie hopped aboard with her three-year-old granddaughter, Layla, after having a swim at Merewether on Monday.
She said she had never seen the bus, but jumped at the chance to take a ride after Layla spotted it.
“It’s fabulous,” she said.
“It gives you the spirit of Christmas and keeps the Christmas spirit alive.”
Keolis Downer’s director corporate affairs Andrew Fletcher said there was “no reason why the Christmas bus cannot continue in 2019”.
“Keolis Downer Hunter fully supports the Christmas bus and will continue to support this fantastic community tradition in the years to come,” he said.
“With refurbished ferries and the introduction of light rail, we will consider extending the Christmas tradition across the Newcastle Transport network in 2019.”
The Newcastle Christmas bus takes varied routes each day through December. Timetables can be found on its Facebook page.