Martijn Gilbert, Managing Director of Go North East, writes about rebuilding the night time economy following the pandemic and the launch of 24-hour services on three key bus routes.
Towns and cities never sleep – not even in a pandemic. In the past year our key workers have been helping people to access vital services, including healthcare, education, and work.
Now as restrictions ease, our economy is again waking up. We’re seeing pubs come alive, as well as extended opening hours for shops, restaurants and businesses, which means there’s a need for us to extend our services.
As the North East’s third largest private employer, we know the significant role buses can have on boosting our region’s economy. We need to ensure that we offer services that are relevant and helpful to our passengers and make sure we capitalise on our clean, green fleet.
At Go North East, we have launched 24-hour services on three of our key routes (Angel 21, Cityrider 56 and Drifter 60), which operate seven days a week. These buses are vital for encouraging people to use public transport again and avoid taking the car.
Our buses provide the safe, secure and environmental option. With a friendly bus driver on board, we can add that extra reassurance of getting home safely and securely after a shift. And with our enhanced cleaning regimes, it will be a pleasant journey for all.
We’ve also launched more incentives to encourage people to travel in the evening. We’ve introduced a flat £1 single fare, which customers can pay between 7pm each evening and 3am the following morning. With more people on buses, businesses can only recover quicker.
In fact, we saw the discount in revenue pay back very quickly. We’re continuing to deliver strong week-on-week growth that is outstripping underlying evening revenue growth seen in other comparable operations. There is also a halo effect of people trying the bus over an evening and seeing that today's buses are much better than they expected, helping to drive daytime recovery and growth.
But it isn’t just about the social events we’ve all missed – night-time buses are also vital for shift workers in healthcare, hospitality and in warehouses. The new Amazon warehouse site in Gateshead is expected to see 1,000 jobs for the region. We’ve improved our timetables and access to the site so that people can feel comfortable taking the bus, and don’t have to resort to the car.
In addition, we’re continuing to make improvements to other services. We’ve improved access to the Nissan Factory – making sure we’re offering later journeys after the last shift finishes. No one should be left in the dark because their shift ends before the last bus.
At Go North East we’re staying awake so people don’t miss their journeys.