"MetroLINK" M1 was a frequent service linking bus commuters to Heworth Interchange from Houghton-le-Spring, Concord, Shiney Row, and the Washington Galleries Shopping Centre. From there, connections towards South Shields, Gateshead, Newcastle City Centre and beyond were provided by additional bus services and the Tyne and Wear Metro.
▸ Livery: the livery design for the "MetroLINK" brand was a complete revamp from the "Metro Link M:1" identity it took over from, which was established in 2004 and carried a spin-off branding style to the 'swoops' fleet livery introduced that year.
To inform customers of the M1 service's wide range of connections available from Heworth after stepping off the metro, the livery adopted the Tyne and Wear Metro's branding guidelines, from the yellow and black colour scheme to the Transport typeface for all text branding — largely recognisable as the designated font family for the United Kingdom's road signs. T&W Metro's logo typeface of Calvert was implemented into that of "MetroLINK", with the letters written in uppercase and the word 'LINK' doubling in height to emphasise on the links provided.
As standard, route branding was displayed along the cant rails of the branded vehicles, with a further message underneath the windows informing customers of the connections to "Red Arrows" service X1 at Washington Galleries, in addition to the frequent links with the metro services from Heworth Interchange.
▸ Vehicles: "MetroLINK" was operated by eleven Wright Solar vehicles during its active life, fleet numbered 4956–4966. While the majority of them had previously carried the brand's earlier livery, stylised as "Metro Link M:1", 4965 and 4966 had been branded in the 'wedge' variant of Go North East's corporate fleet livery at the time.
▸ Routes: the "MetroLINK" brand was assigned to service M1: a frequent, all-stop route journeying between Heworth and Houghton-le-Spring, calling at Usworth, Concord, Washington Galleries, Fatfield and Fence Houses — all towns and villages within the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear. Another three 'M' routes (M2/M2A and M3) connected passengers to Heworth Interchange, although now under the "Washington Street Shuttle" brand. Operated by Dennis MPD/Transbus Mini Pointer vehicles, they — like the M1 — were marketed as variants of the "Metro Link" identity beforehand, with the relevant vehicles presenting "M:2" or "M:3" branding on the sides.
▸ Discontinuation: as part of its centenary year (2013), Go North East invested in 100 new buses to improve a number of services across its network. Included in this was a new batch of eleven Mercedes Citaro 0530N/Mercedes Citaro vehicles for the upcoming "Connections 4" brand, which would serve as a replacement for "MetroLINK". With perks such as high-backed seating, air conditioning, free WiFi and next stop announcement systems, the vehicles highlighted a significant upgrade to the service, and emphasised on Go North East's ongoing commitment to increase customer satisfaction. When the "Connections 4"-branded vehicles entered service in October 2013, service M1 was aptly renumbered to 4 in order to draw attention to the connections it provided for the locations along its route.
The unveiling of the new "Connections 4" brand, and the delivery of its Citaro vehicles, marked the end of "MetroLINK" after a three-year period. After this, five of its Wright Solar vehicles (4956–4960) were transferred from Washington to Chester-le-Street depot, where they would later wear the livery for "The Waggonway" for services 28/28A/28B. The rest (4961–4966) went into the the basic red base colour that symbolised Go North East's corporate image at the time.
A drawing of 4960 can seen below, depicting the "MetroLINK" livery.
Date last modified: 23rd April 2022
Page cover photo: copyright of the background image in the cover photo for this page belongs to Luke Tyson (luke.t.tyson on Flickr), who kindly gave me permission to use it.
▸ "Metro Link M1" — preceded this brand [coming soon]
▸ "Connections 4" [original] — succeeded this brand [coming soon]
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