Spirit lacking viability

Spirit Buses, the Northumberland-based two-bus operator which brought new services to a sparsely populated area is facing closure, unless financial support can be agreed.

In 2014 Spirit re-introduced bus services in its local Rothbury area that had been withdrawn 30 years earlier. Its aim was to support local tourism and businesses, while providing travel to work opportunities for local people.

Run by entrepreneur Steve Hurst, Spirit operates two 2002 Caetano Nimbus-bodied Dennis Darts. However, lack of viability means the buses are likely to be taken off the road in the wake of a decision to deregister all the routes with effect from 19 September.

However, it is hoped that emergency talks with Northumberland County Council can produce a solution that will see the survival of route 16, Spirit’s core service to Alnwick, enabling the operator to continue and also tender for school transport contracts.

Mr Hurst set up Spirit in September 2014 having spotted a “gap that’s long needed filling.” He amassed 60,000 from bank loans and personal savings so as to provide a direct service between Rothbury and Alnwick, though there was no support from the local authority. He added three other routes linking villages with Rothbury.

When launched it received enthusiastic local support and has been awarded a Civic Award by the Mayor of Alnwick.