TEENAGERS have been praised for their efforts in highlighting the negative effects the loss of evening bus services has had on youngsters.
Helen Lamb, 17, Ashleigh Bostock, 17, Hannah Bew, 15, and Robyn Reid, 14, highlighted the issue at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee.
Mayor Stuart Drummond praised their efforts, but warned the reason council funding was cut for subsidised services was because there is not enough money.
He said if the council overturned its decision then it could lead to the loss of a library or community centre.
The report, Young People’s Access to Transport, highlighted the ways in which teenagers have been adversely affected.
The group are all members of Hartlepool Youth Parliament which surveyed 200 young people and looked at bus timetables, and found that the majority of bus services stopped after 6.30pm.
Youngsters said the cuts mean youngsters are walking around late in the evening as they do not have access to other modes of transport and that their access to leisure facilities has been affected.
The survey also found that attendance at college, training and work had been affected because of the lack of services.
A statement said: “Young people have clearly been affected by the public bus services cuts and solutions must be found to overcome the issues we have discovered.
“Bus companies should be thinking about reinstating night time services and be made aware of the issues that young people are facing and the risk that they may be taking as a result; or at least investigate other options for young people across Hartlepool.”
They added that young people do not feel safe in taxis or walking alone.
Helen attends Hartlepool Sixth Form College, Ashleigh goes to Hartlepool College of Further Education and both Hannah and Robyn attend Manor College of Technology.
Mayor Drummond said: “This is a great report and very informative.”
He added: “The reason they were taken off was because the routes did not make money.
“The council unanimously agreed it was something we could not fund and if the council wants to change that then fine.”
Independent councillor Hilary Thompson said: “Congratulations and I want to pay tribute to you all.
“This is a massive issue across town and it is not just affecting young people.”
Coun Thompson said the issue about youngsters being late for college or training programmes because of the lack of transport was an issue that needed addressing.
It was agreed to explore options to improve young people’s access to transport.
The report was produced after some bus services were axed last year as the council slashed £287,000 from its supported bus budget for routes that operators Stagecoach North East and Arriva said were not viable.
A spokesman for Stagecoach has said they continue to operate Services 6 and 7 without public subsidy on a Friday and Saturday evening while service 36 is run in a similar manner seven nights a week.