The Tees Valley’s state-of-the-art on-demand bus service has been unveiled in Hartlepool.
Called Tees Flex, the service aims to help residents in more isolated communities across the region access essential services along with training and employment opportunities that are being created across Tees Valley.
Nine new, high-quality Mercedes Sprinter buses operated by Stagecoach will be used for the pilot, which has been funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.
Serving three key zones in Darlington & Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar & Cleveland, passengers will be able to pre-book the bus via a smartphone app, a website or over the telephone. They can request pick-up and drop-off points within the serviced area, and to destinations including train and stations along with hospitals outside of the area.
The pilot, which will run for three years, has the potential to be extended across the region if successful.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Local people rightly demand a high quality, low cost way of getting around Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. There are far too many people cut off in rural communities that find it difficult to see their friends and family, access essential health services, get to the supermarket or, most importantly, the jobs and training opportunities that we are creating across the region.
“By funding this service, students, families and people of all ages can request a bus to collect them from right outside their door and take them where they need to be, and at a great price.
“We’re spending money right across our region to improve our transport links, from upgrades to our major train stations, roads network and we’ve secured new routes and flights from our airport – connecting us with all four corners of the UK and Ireland. This Tees Flex service is a great answer to get those not served by other routes moving and where they need to be.”
Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths added: “We’re very proud of our 40-year history of keeping communities connected. Our services are crucial in supporting local and central government’s strategy of helping people to access employment, education, skills and training, and healthcare, as well as ensuring they can play an active part in their communities.
“New affordable and convenient transport solutions, like Tees Flex, can play a key role in helping to keep people connected in less populated areas, and most importantly to encourage people out of their cars and onto greener bus services. We’re pleased to be working in partnership with the Mayor and Tees Valley Combined Authority to pilot this new service for the region.”
Cllr Heather Scott, Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet lead for Transport and Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths with the new Tees Flex at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool