More than half a million people used the Tyne and Wear Metro to reach major events in North East England this summer – including sell-out stadium concerts by Ed Sheeran, the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland and the Great Exhibition of the North.
Nexus, the public body which runs Metro, estimates people made about 500,000 extra journeys for one-off summer events – and a further 90,000 journeys on the day of the annual Great North Run.
Metro put on more than 200 extra trains over the summer for big events and extended its service into the early hours to get people home on five separate nights. Staff worked thousands of additional hours on driver and customer service duties to look after visitors and regular customer alike.
Cllr Gladys Hobson, Chair of the North East Combined Authority’s Transport Sub-committee, paid tribute to the Nexus staff who worked so hard over the busy summer. She said: “It’s been a fantastic summer of events for our region and all of the staff on the Metro system have done an absolutely brilliant job. Half a million extra journeys underlines the importance of the Metro system for connecting people to places.”
Chris Carson, Metro Services Director, said: “Tyne and Wear Metro has a proud record of supporting major events including the annual Great North Run, by providing extra services, special tickets and good customer service to look after passengers and keep them moving.
“The summer of 2018 tested our resources to the limit through an unprecedented programme of exhibitions, stadium concerts and open-air family events and we are delighted to have passed the test and helped so many people have a good time.
“I want to say a huge thanks, on behalf of our customers, to the staff who made this possible – Metro is part of everyday life but we’re also there when North East England throws a party.
“We have been moved by some of the positive comments on social media and sent to us by email from people telling us Metro helped make their day special.”
The 500,000 extra journeys have helped halt a recent decline in Metro passenger numbers caused by the changing retail market and changing work habits.
The figure includes around 100,000 journeys made by people visiting the Great Exhibition of the North throughout the summer.
Other major events which saw people flock to Metro included Ed Sheeran’s three-nights of sell out concerts at St James’ Park, Newcastle, Little Mix appearing at Gateshead Stadium, and the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland.
As well as extra trains and late services Metro staff made sure customers were looked after throughout their journey.
Special additional touches included having emergency phone chargers ready for youngsters returning from Little Mix, water on hand after the Great North Run, and a ‘busker’ hired to perform Ed Sheeran songs in stations to get gig goers in the mood, as well as humourous facemasks for fans.
Staff handed out bright yellow sunglasses at North East Pride and the Great Exhibition, ice creams on the days of free summer concerts in South Shields and paper crowns and flags during the royal Wedding.