The Tyne and Wear Metro has achieved its highest passenger figures for five years, with the number of journeys on the system passing 39 million.
Nexus, which owns and manages Metro, puts the growth down to keeping ticket prices low and the introduction of smart ticketing, which offers passengers more flexible ways to pay for their travel.
Metro’s moving annual total has now risen above 39 million for the first time since June 2010.
There were a million more journeys on the Metro system compared to the same period last year.
And figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) in June showed that Metro has the fastest growing passenger numbers in the country outside of London.
Cllr Nick Forbes, regional transport lead for the North East Combined Authority, said: “The Metro is a great example of what can be achieved when local areas take responsibility for transport infrastructure. It is a success story invented and delivered in the north east and it is set to go from strength to strength.
“We are now looking ahead to see how we can build on its popularity by investing in the Metro so that it can continue to serve the travelling public long into the future. That’s why our devolution proposals to government include significant investment in the Metro to make it even better and allow more passengers to use it in future.”
Director of Rail and Infrastructure for Nexus, Raymond Johnstone, said: “Metro passenger numbers are at their highest level for more than five years at 39 million journeys, so Metro clearly remains a very popular mode of travel.
“We have seen a continuing trend of passenger growth this year because we’ve been able to keep ticket prices low while offering more flexible ways to pay.
“Metro remains the most affordable light rail network in the UK.
“The growth in passenger journeys is a result of keeping fares low and providing flexible ways to pay and then travel on the system with a Pop card.”
The DfT figures published in June show that Metro had better passenger growth than newer transit systems in Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham.
Metro’s passenger growth has only been bettered by the Docklands Light Railway in London.
Metro ticket sales went up by 4.4% in 2014/15 financial year, with ticket revenue totalling £47.9m.
Nexus provides, plans and promotes public transport to improve the economic prosperity of Tyne and Wear, and the daily lives of its people. We also look to the future, creating the travel networks people will want to use in decades to come.
Our plans include the Metro: all change modernisation programme, worth up to £389m over 11 years, providing a step change in comfort and reliability for our passengers. We are also improving local bus services, working with local councils and operators through the Bus Strategy to meet the needs of local people. That means making sure buses go where people want them to, and provide a safe and welcoming travel environment. And we are investing in smart travel, with the new Pop card for use on Metro and beyond to make buying a ticket simpler and more flexible.
Nexus is the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive and administers funds on behalf of the North East Combined Authority. Our task is to improve the quality of life and fortunes of everyone in Tyne and Wear, by creating better transport networks.