CRITICS have rounded on a £120,000 makeover at Jarrow Bus Station over claims it leaves commuters at the mercy of the elements.
Nexus completed a refurbishment of the station last month, which included improvements to passenger waiting areas, lighting and security.
There is just no shelter from the elements now. Previously we had a brick wall with the shelter on top. Now we have a space at the bottom for the wind to blow through.Coun Linda Hemmer
The transport operator has installed five new modern bus shelters, to replace the two 20-year-old tunnels that previously made up the station.
However, the transformation has been hailed a flop by Ukip candidate Linda Hemmer, who is standing in the local elections at Fellgate and Hedworth in Jarrow, next month.
She says the new design offers insufficient protection from high winds and rain.
She also claims there are not enough seats and a lack of room within the shelters.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Nexus said the old tunnel shelters were in a bad condition and would “not have lasted much longer”, adding that the old station was “foreboding” to passengers at night.
Coun Hemmer said: “There is just no shelter from the elements now. Previously we had a brick wall with the shelter on top.
“Now we have a space at the bottom for the wind to blow through.
“Every time a bus pulls in people don’t know which way to go.
“Before we had a metal rail through the middle of the bus shelter which was wider.
“Now, people can’t get past each other to the next bus stop, one side has a path which makes this easier, but the bus stops on the other side.
“There is also half the amount of seats than there were before. I’d be keen to find out the views of passengers to see if anyone has a good word for the bus station.”
Huw Lewis, head of customer services and communications at Nexus, said: “We replaced the old tunnel shelters at Jarrow because after 20 years they were starting to leak badly as the steelwork, roof panels and seals failed.
“They would not have lasted much longer. The tunnels were also unpopular with passengers because they were foreboding in the evening.
“The new design, with large individual shelters is based on refurbishments that have been successful and popular with passengers in other town centres, including Wallsend, Blaydon and Heworth.
“The shelters have better lighting and CCTV coverage, passenger information screens and better seats, with handgrabs to make them easier to get up from. The design also provides greater accessibility for wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs and buggies.
“We counted passenger numbers carefully before we began the project and compared this with other town centre bus stations – the number of large shelters provided is the same or greater than that in other town centres, and provides plenty of room. The shelters are still new and we’ll be collecting passenger feedback in the coming months.”
Also standing for election at Fellgate and Hedworth on Thursday, May 7, are: Lesley Hanson (Green Party), Audrey Huntley (Labour) and James Milburn (Conservative).