COUNCIL bosses are looking to trial a new “tourist bus” in a bid to attract more visitors to Hartlepool and boost the town’s economy.
Tourism chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council have come up with the proposal to use the local authority’s fleet of yellow buses during the Easter and summer holidays next year to improve the links between attractions at Seaton Carew, Hartlepool Marina and the Headland.
The yellow buses, which take children to school, are not used during holiday periods.
The idea is to use them as part of a new trial - which will cost around £7,000.
The tourist bus would be free for passengers to use.
A report by Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said: “The purpose of the report is to seek approval for the introduction of a ‘tourist bus’ route and service running between Seaton Carew, the Historic Quay, the Marina and the Heugh Gun Battery on a trial basis.” It is all part of the Hartlepool Master Plan process and consultants GVA are investigating connectivity between key visitor attractions which are spread across the town.
Officials believe there is an “untapped footfall” because people are discouraged from seeing all the town has to offer because of the transport links.
Mr Wilson added: “It is proposed that the council operate a ‘tourist bus’ service four times a day return journey from Seaton Carew to the Heugh Gun Battery on the Headland via the Historic Quay and the Marina, initially on a trial basis.
“Possible dates for the introduction and operation of the proposed service are March 30 to April 10, 2015 to cover the Easter school holidays - excluding Good Friday and Easter Monday - and July 21 to August 30, 2015 to cover the summer school holidays.
“The proposed route would need to be registered with the Traffic Commissioner.
“The proposed introduction of the ‘tourist bus’ route and service would need to be marketed by the council, along with potential private and public sector partners, for example, the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Heugh Gun Battery and businesses located on the Marina and along the seafront at Seaton Carew.”
Officers say the estimated cost for the trial is around £7,000 and that includes the marketing and advertising costs. The council wouldn’t be able to charge for the service so it would be free of charge to tourists using it.
Mr Wilson added: “Consultation will be undertaken with the local bus operators to make sure there are no conflict of interests and operators may be offered the opportunity to tender for the contract.”
A council report added it may also be possible to get sponsorship from those who would benefit from the service, such as local businesses, which would reduce the cost to the local authority.
The proposal will be discussed by the council’s regeneration services committee at a meeting on Thursday.
Councillors are asked to approve the introduction of the tourist bus on a trial basis subject to a further report outlining the final funding package, proposed marketing programme and the results of the consultation with the Traffic Commissioner once notice has been sent to register the proposed service.
Members meet on September 18 at the Civic Centre.
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