On a recent visit to Berlin I found using their public transport system a bit of a nightmare to navigate. A lack of information at the station at Schonenfeld Airport meant a reliance on Google for guidance on how we were going to get into Berlin city centre. It gave me a new-found appreciation for the Metro system here in my hometown, which conveniently connects Newcastle city centre with many outlying areas. It’s also very easy to jump on a train at Newcastle Airport, especially with signs in different languages and an easy-to-follow map!
As someone who grew up in Gateshead, the Metro has played a very big part in my life over the years. I have fond memories of my Gran picking me up from school and taking me for beach picnics. To get a front seat on the carriage and pretend to drive the train as we travelled from Heworth to South Shields was as exciting for me as the vinegar-soaked chips we’d pick up on Ocean Road. I don’t think I ever fully appreciated how wonderfully diverse the area we live in is, or how simple it is to get around using the public transport system. So much so, in fact, that I didn’t learn to drive until the ripe old age of 28!
Metro launched Pop Pay As You Go (PAYG) last year, a system very similar to the Oyster Card of London’s Underground. There are a range of Pop products available and we are a family of Pop users. The Teen’s gives him a reduced fare while travelling on the Metro system daily as he commutes to school or socialises with his friends on a weekend. Mr. Canny has a card purchased through a scheme at work which he uses on a weekday, while I have a PAYG for occasions when I don’t want to use the car.
I recently purchased a card (link here for more information) and it was a straightforward process. You can also buy them from Nexus TravelShops or at selected Payzone stores but I chose to purchase online as my local TravelShop is only open at times when I’m at work. The card itself is free, as is the postage, but a £10 opening balance is required. Pop PAYG is cheaper than adult Single and DaySaver tickets. In fact, it’s 20p cheaper than cash single tickets and 30p cheaper than cash DaySaver tickets. You can travel as many times as you like in a day, and you’ll never pay more than the daily cap (£2.60 for one zone, £3.70 for two zones, or £4.70 for all zones). The Teen’s Under 16 PAYG card means travel on the Tyne and Wear Metro costs just 60p for a single fare and £1.10 for a Child All-day Ticket.
With the perils of city centre parking during the Christmas rush or party nights out, there are times when the convenience of having the Metro system close to home surpasses that of the family car. We decided to use the Metro for a family day out to Tynemouth and Whitley Bay recently to avoid the roadworks on the Coast Road that have caused significant delays to our journeys of late. Using the system with a toddler is easy thanks to lifts or ramps at stations, so there’s no need to collapse the buggy and juggle the two!
It was lovely to sit and interact with Dinky on the Metro as normally she’s sat in the back of the car away from me. First stop was Tynemouth to wander round the famous weekend market housed within the station. We try to support local businesses where possible and this is a great opportunity to stock up on foodie goodies for the weekend ahead.
There’s a wide range of locations and attractions situated close to stations on the network, especially around Whitley Bay and Tynemouth. I’d wanted to try Hinnies and had booked in for a family lunch. It was easy to hop back on the Metro and travel to Whitley Bay, maximising our time and the value for money of the Pop card.
It was a short walk from the station to the seafront, and as the weather was dry we decided to have a wander along to St. Marys Lighthouse to work up an appetite. We live in a truly beautiful part of the world and it doesn’t cost anything to appreciate the stunning North East coastline.
I will be sharing our lunch at Hinnies in a separate post, but thought I’d whet your appetite with a sneaky peek of what we ate during our visit.
They were well prepared for Dinky with puzzles and colouring activities which made such a difference to us. Dining out with a rambunctious toddler can be difficult enough, but accommodating like this can take the pressure off frazzled parents like me! Metro has teamed up with many popular attractions and restaurants – like Hinnies – around the Metro network to provide a range of money-saving offers. All you have to do is show your Metro ticket or Pop card at these participating venues to be entitled to any of the offers. More information can be found here.
Whether it was the sea air, the food we ate, or a combination of the two, Dinky was very sleepy on the journey home. I felt using the Metro system rather than the car gave us the freedom to change our plans without having to worry about where to park again. With such fond memories of my own Metro journeys as a child, I’m sure we’ll be making more with our children over the years to come.
Thanks for reading,
*Disclaimer – This is a collaborative post but all words and opinions expressed are my own.