Spirit revived in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council is stepping in to support a bus service which connects some of the county’s most rural communities. 

The authority has committed to supporting Rothbury-based Spirit Buses for the next year to help the routes become more sustainable for the local communities in the area.

The company, which carries around 20,000 passengers a year, was set up last September by young entrepreneur Steve Hurst on a purely commercial basis following extensive research on local demand for bus services.

However in practice Steve has found that passenger numbers have not been sufficient to ensure the viability of his services. Following talks between the council and the company the authority has agreed to a minimum subsidy to ensure the continuation of the core of his valuable service to some of the most remote communities in Northumberland.

The support will allow Spirit to continue delivering services and to work with the council to develop partnerships with local communities and other interested parties such as the Northumberland National Park. 

Rothbury and Coquetdale Councillor Steven Bridgett, who has been campaigning to save the bus services, said: “Following lengthy discussions, I am pleased that the council has been able to offer various forms of support to this unique service. 

“The Coquet Valley is one of the most remote and sparsely populated places in England and this service has proved to be a lifeline for many residents. However, in the future we will be keen to also see some financial support forthcoming from local parish councils to support this much needed service. ”

Councillor Scott Dickinson, Business Chair of Northumberland County Council, said: “We have many rural and isolated communities in the county and these bus services can provide a lifeline for the residents who live there.

“Spirit Buses have proved popular both with residents and tourists since they started last year and we are pleased to be able to support them to enable their services continue into the future.”

Spirit Buses’ Steve Hurst said: “I am very grateful on behalf of all the residents, businesses and visitors to Upper Coquetdale that Northumberland County Council is able to support the continuation of our core 15 and 16 services. 

“Our first year of operation has been pioneering and shown us that us that there is definitely a demand for our rural lifeline links although to make them truly viable and cement their future we do still need to increase patronage especially on some of the journeys. 

“We hope to use this as a new start and look forward to working closely with the local authorities to develop what Spirit Buses can offer to the community over the coming year.”

New timetables will be available soon from the Northumberland County Council and Spirit Buses websites.
View all news