Bus company has a “social responsibility”

AN MP has called on a bus operator to be more “socially responsible” in light of services being axed.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said it was important that Stagecoach uses its profits to subsidise less viable services in the town.

Earlier this week, a report by the Commons cross-party Transport Committee warned that cuts to bus services are threatening the most vulnerable.

Hartlepool was highlighted by Channel 4 News at the weekend as one of the worse affected areas.

The programme featured pensioners from the Burbank area, who said they lived in the “forgotten world” and a steelworker from Corus, in Brenda Road, who was faced with a 90-minute walk to work after the bus he used was axed.

Mr Wright also appeared on the programme and appealed to Stagecoach to put “something back”.

Earlier this year, Hartlepool Borough Council axed £287,000 from the supported bus service budget for routes that operators say are not commercially viable.

Mr Wright said: “I think it’s important if they can run the profitable routes they should also have a sense of social responsibility and run those socially essential, possibly economically vital to the town bus routes, that may not make a profit.

“Why should any bus operator keep running these routes if they are not making a profit?

“I don’t think Stagecoach shouldn’t be making a profit, but they are making – as they boast – sector-leading profits. They should be putting something back.”

A Stagecoach spokesman told the programme: “We are unable to support every unprofitable service in the same way local and central government is unable to fund all services we would like to see in our local communities.”