Bus operator Go North East's latest initiative seems to resurrect the whole concept of integrated transport - but in a wholly new and unexpected way.
No, they are not through-ticketing with the Tyne and Wear Metro or timetabling to complement Stagecoach or Arriva services. Instead, they are giving their passengers the chance to experience life without a car - but without actually having to be without a car.
Go Ahead's Key Lifestyle promotion offers a useful 15 per cent discount on all bus fares and, in addition, includes free membership to Commonwheels, a vehicle hire firm with cars that can be hired for as little as 30 minutes at a time. This means if you really have to use a car then you can get one - but you only have to pay for the time you actually drive it.
Free membership is worth £25, plus you get another £25 worth of driving credit on top. With typical hire rates being about £4 an hour, that should give you enough for a couple of free hires.
And if you don't fancy driving, Go Ahead will give you free membership of Newcastle’s self-service bike hire system Scratch Bikes instead. This is similar to London's public bike sharing scheme and again is worth £25. In addition, Key Lifestyle members also receive a discounted rate on the two-hour rental fee, which means it would cost just 20p to complete your journey by bike.
This is a neat and imaginative scheme which seems to be pressing all the right environomental buttons. What the take-up will be is anyone's guess, but it seems to offer the best of three worlds. I like it.
Will it be enough to persuade the petrol heads to abandon their Type-R's and their four-by-fours? Perhaps not. But it clearly offers normal people a few more options – and it might even persuade some that they don't need to own a car all.