The ferry will not operate in the evening until further notice from Monday, January 10, in order to protect the service from the latest wave of Covid-19.
Nexus, the public body that owns and operates the ferry, said the reduction to a 12-hour schedule was a temporary measure to help it manage its staff resources while the more contagious Omicron variant is in circulation. .
Nexus says the change will allow the ferry crew to keep the Trans-Tyne route running by operating separate crews and creating more contingencies if Covid-related illness rates worsen.
The changes mean the last crossing from North Shields will be at 6 p.m. weekdays and Saturday, starting Monday. Currently, the last departures are at 7:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. from South and North Shields Monday through Wednesday, and at 10:40 p.m. and 10:50 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, respectively.
Nexus’ director of customer services, Huw Lewis, said the operator was not happy with the suspension of evening services, but felt there was no choice: “The reduction in services is the last thing we want to do, but these are prudent steps to take now so that we can try to protect the Shields Ferry from further disruption from Covid-19, ”he said.
“By planning a small reduction in service, we hope to avoid short-term cancellations if crew members get sick. This way our customers can better know what to expect and plan their trips with confidence in the weeks to come.
“This will be kept under review and as the situation improves we may consider restoring the evening crossings when the time is right.
“Customers will still be able to use the service as usual during the day, and we will not be removing any service early in the morning. “
Shields Ferry’s new schedule will mean that the first crossing of the day will still be at 6:45 a.m., Monday through Saturday, but the last crossings will be at 5:45 p.m., from South Shields, and 6:00 p.m. from North Shields.
Sunday ferry schedules do not change and services will continue to operate until 6 p.m.