FREE buses will be provided for commuters during a year-long closure of a transport link between Jarrow and Howdon in North Tyneside.
The Tyne pedestrian and cycle tunnels are due to close soon for a £6m refurbishment, but a cross-river shuttle bus service will be laid on while they are out of action.
Paul Fenwick, project director for the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, told a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Jarrow and Boldon community area forum yesterday that a free shuttle bus service will run between the borough and its opposite number north of the river.
It will run from 6am until 8pm, and additional free transport will be laid on for workers employed outside those hours.
Mr Fenwick said: “We realise there may be difficulties for employees on different hours, and we plan to put in place a service where people can pre-register for a free bus service if they are experiencing real hardship.”
A date for the closure of the tunnels has yet to be fixed, however.
A resident at the forum asked Mr Fenwick about the future of the historic wooden escalators in the tunnels and if they could be transferred to a local museum.
Mr Fenwick said the £6m revamp scheme would include a facility for passengers to view the workings of the escalators, dating back to the opening of the tunnels in 1951.
He added: “We may also make parts available to museums.”
Following a question from Coun Alan Smith, Mr Fenwick confirmed the shuttle buses would include a bike-carrying device for cyclists. During the year-long closure of the tunnels, the outdated wooden escalators will be replaced and an inclined lift created.
The tunnels’ entrances at Jarrow and Howdon will also be improved, and lighting and electrics will also be upgraded.