Nexus, which own and manages Tyne and Wear Metro, have launched their Pop Pay As You Go cards. We found it easy to purchase Pop PAYG cards, and we set out to explore South Shields on a family day out.
Pop PAYG is an easy way to pay for transport across Tyne and Wear and is an ideal way to travel around the region this spring /summer.
Travel and tickets
Ordering the Metro Pop PAYG card was really easy. I popped (geddit?!) over to the website and entered my name, address and payment details. I paid £20 for two cards and a few days later they arrived in the post. The Pop PAYG card itself is free, but you must top it up with a £10 balance.
James is 5 and therefore is classed as an Under 16, so he needed his own Pop card. There’s a form to print out and fill in, which I took to the Nexus Travel Shop in North Shields. I also took a self-addressed envelope, a passport-sized photo of James, his passport, and for proof of address – a vaccination invitation. While I was in the Travel Shop, the documents were checked against what I’d entered on the form, and I was able to take those away with me. The photo and form were sent off, and James’ new Pop Card arrived around 5 days later (they say it can take up to 7 days for Under 16 Pop cards to be processed). Surprisingly, we received the photo back too!
As Noah is just 3 years old, he can travel on the network for free.
PAYG – How much does it cost?
Pop PAYG is cheaper than adult Single and Day tickets. In fact, it’s 30p cheaper than cash Single tickets and 40p cheaper than cash Day 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).
Travel with an Under 16 Pop card on the Tyne and Wear Metro costs just 60p for a child’s single and £1.10 for a Child All-day Ticket.
Our family day out
We visited South Shields, not least because the Shields Ferry is a pretty exciting form of transport and is part of the Nexus Tyne and Wear Metro network! We had walked from our home to the ferry, with the intention of catching the metro train home again later. We actually arrived in time for the first ferry of the day, so the gates were locked. When the ferry arrived, the gates were unlocked by a crew member and we could walk down the ramp to the boat.
Using our Pop cards couldn’t be easier. You buy your ticket on board the ferry, but since we have Pop cards, those were swiped for us after we said we wanted a return. We were given a print out to keep in case of inspection.
The Word .
This was the first time we have visited The Word, but I am pretty sure it won’t be our last! From the outside, it looks like an unassuming library, but inside they have a variety of exhibits, interactive displays, and of course lots, and lots, of books. It’s free!
We enjoyed the Monsters! The Good, The Bad and the Cuddly exhibition, and in particular spotting the Gruffalo, and drawing monsters.
Upstairs, you can use the telescopes to have a good look down the Tyne and at the enormous ferryboats moored in North Shields. We challenged ourselves to use the dictionary machine, which was a little temperamental, but still good fun. You have to listen to the sentence, work out the missing word, and then spell it using the large sets. If you get it right (and we did but the machine wouldn’t recognize it!) then you get to swipe the oversized lever and print the finished sentence on the screen.
There are loads of half term activities on at The Word – check out their website for more details.
South Shields Marine Park
South Marine Park is a fabulous place to picnic; there are large, open green spaces. We sat near the bandstand to eat our fish and chips from Colman’s. The fish at Colman’s is cooked to order, and the chips are fab, chunky, and not very greasy. The queues for the takeaway side of this restaurant go down the street, so arrive early or late to avoid standing in a long line with little children!
After lunch, we walked through the park to the miniature steam railway. The Lakeshore Railroad runs daily from mid-May to mid-September and it costs £1.50 per person. Under 3’s ride free of charge. Find out more on their website. The train takes you around the lake area of South Marine Park. If you have children with sensitive ears, you may like to be prepared that the train makes a loud whistle, to alert any pedestrians crossing the track, as the train emerges from behind Minchella’s café.
There are two small play parks, one for 0-8s and the other for over 8s. My two boys preferred to play only in the park designed for older children, because James is a climber, and Noah liked the obstacle course around the outside. The play area aimed at younger children has a giant sandpit and marine-themed play equipment.
What else would finish the day off but a tasty ice cream from Minchella’s!
We caught the ferry back to North Shields. We could have used the metro – the station is right in the middle of South Shields. South Shields is the end of the line, so there’s no worrying about which platform to use or if you’re on the right side! However, for us, since we live in North Tyneside, it was easier for us to catch the ferry back again, and then the metro train to our nearest station. The ferry is about a 5-minute walk from South Shields town centre.
One of the lovely things about riding the ferry is the uplifting music that’s piped through to the upstairs seating area. We loved having a bit of a sing-song and boogie! To catch the metro home again, after the ferry, we needed to get to the station. North Shields metro station is in the town centre, which is up a very steep bank from the ferry. It’s alright going down it, with two small children, but going up again is a different kettle of fish altogether!
When the ferry arrived in the dock, we had a short walk to the bus terminus, which is to the left of the Vault pub (straight in front of you as you exit the ferry landing).
Remember I said you get a print out when you use your Pop card on the ferry? You need to show that to get the 333 bus for free from the North Shields ferry landing to North Shields Metro station, otherwise, you’re taking a very steep 10-minute walk!
Using our Pop card on the Metro is very easy. You have to swipe it past the card reader on the station, and again when you get off. Your balance will be reduced according to however many zones you’ve been through, up to the daily cap.
Where will your Pop PAYG card take you on your next family day out?