NEWPORT Market traders say business is finally on the up now the new bus station has opened in Market Square.

Butcher Mike Turner described seeing “throngs of people” getting off buses and coming through the market, adding: “It can be very quiet one minute, then you can see a dozen coming through so obviously there’s been a few buses just pulled in. Hopefully we’ll fill the market stalls back up and get back to how it used to be.”

He said parking in Newport explained some of the decline in footfall.

He said: “They’ve got the brand new car park down at the new development but some of the elderly do find it too far.”

Expected to cater for between two and three million passengers a year, the new station was due to open in October but delays held it up until December 28.

Chris Hill, 68, who owns Chilly’s sweet shop, has worked in the market for 22 years.

He said: “Last year was a horrendous year.

“It was the worst year we have had for a long time – things are coming back up hopefully.

“A lot of people are discovering the market is here because they’re getting off the bus and popping in. Having the bus ticket office here helps as well.”

He echoed concerns about parking, saying: “If the council really wanted to lift the centre they’d have free parking. That puts a lot of people off.”

Meanwhile Rachel Haines of Rachel’s Curry Kitchen has seen an influx of trade both from bus passengers and dieters keen to shed a few pounds. She has linked up with WeightWatchers groups in Pontypool and Cwmbran and is even delivering her curries to WeightWatchers’ groups as demand grows.

She said: “We were so busy yesterday it was unreal. A lot of people are saying, ‘I haven’t been in the market in years.’ They say, ‘I remember that unit, it used to be so-and-so’s.’”

Joanne Hugh, of Ron Hugh pet supplies, said: “It seems to have brought more people into the market – more than just the regulars, a lot we haven’t seen before, or people we haven’t seen for a long time.

“The atmosphere all round is generally better.”