When the Tyne and Wear Metro was created in the 1980s, use of the word “Wear” in the name was a misnomer. That’s because it didn’t initially cover Sunderland, and wouldn’t until 2002.
Despite that, it became a longstanding controversy that through the now defunct Tyne and Wear county level authority, which lasted until 1986, Sunderland residents paid taxes to build a service which didn’t even cover them.
But even then, the expansion of the Metro Service into Sunderland was always piecemeal. While the majority of South Tyneside, North Tyneside and the City of Newcastle are covered by it, Sunderland only ever gained 9 stops (out of 60 in total, barely 10%).
They’ve pledged expansion for years, constantly rehashing the same plans again and again as a marketing stunt, but we’re still waiting.
Some people might argue that’s a good thing, not least because it is the opinion of some that the Metro serves to take people out of Sunderland City Centre and into Newcastle (as a one-way traffic), killing local shops and businesses.
These people argue that the metro didn’t really bring benefits to Sunderland, but merely integrated it further into a Newcastle Centric system.
And when you look at recent events, it’s quite clear that Sunderland has never been the priority. With an entire portion of the line from Park to South Hylton being out of service, it only serves as a only a confirmation of people’s worst suspicions.
How so? Because Nexus has no intent to immediately fix the problem (which appears to be electrical) until next year, rendering the service completely unusable in these areas for the space of possibly months and disrupting travel for thousands of daily commuters.
Ask yourself, would they be so lethargic if this problem occurred between Central, Station, Monument Haymarket, or any of the areas around it? Sure the line heading towards Wallsend closed for two weeks earlier this year, but that was to upgrade and revamp the infrastructure (including building a new bridge), not because of a fault of any kind.
While the standards and management of the Tyne-Wear Metro have above all been shocking for a long-time, being far-far inadequate to that offered by any major city around the world, it is quite clear that their main priority continues to be a “Newcastle-Centric” system of which sees Sunderland as a second fiddle.
Wearside is but an “appendage” to the network than an integral part of it.
Our city deserves better. The North East should not and must not revolve around Newcastle.