A toll on a heavily used Consett bus route?
The 45 and 46 buses, or The Red Kites, are one of the main public transport routes from Consett to Newcastle, via The Metrocentre. Many residents of the Consett area work and shop at these places. This is why I was puzzled to learn about a strange quirk in the way the Go North East zones are laid out which directly affects this bus route and no other.
For those who aren’t familiar with Go North East’s zones: They are boundaries which divide up the area which Go North East operates in. This determines the price of their BuzzFare tickets. The price goes up the more zones you pass through, up to a maximum of 3 which becomes an all-zone ticket. The 45 and 46 buses pass through 3 zones, rather than 2 because of one bus stop, Hamsterley Mill.
This bus stop raises the price of the BuzzFare day ticket from £5.90 to £7.30 for all who cross it. The zones have to go somewhere, but why is the price of a journey between Consett and the Metrocentre the same as a journey between Consett and Middlesbrough, when the 45 and 46 are the only buses that use this bus stop?
Go North East said:
“A journey between Consett to Newcastle on all routes, via A694 via Hamsterley Mill or A692 via Dipton, requires a three zone ticket as buses operate through the Cherry, Green and Purple zones.”
When asked if this meant that a similar service shouldn’t operate with varying prices. They said that it was fairer this way, because the X70 and X71 pass through 3 zones to get to Newcastle, so the 45/46 must too.
“Yes that’s right – and great value for regular travelers given the distances involved, particularly when compared to the costs of running a car.”
However, these buses do not offer the same service, they operate along different routes, the X70 and X71 operating through much of the green zone, and the 45/46 simply passes through one stop.