Loss of buses is hitting teens’ lives

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TWO teenagers told a council chamber about the negative effects the loss of evening bus services have had on their peers.

Ashleigh Bostock and Robyn Reid spoke during a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s scrutiny co-ordinating committee about the ways in which town teenagers have been adversely affected since subsidised bus services were cut.

Ashleigh, a student at Hartlepool College of Further Education, and Robyn, who attends Manor College of Technology, are both members of Hartlepool Youth Parliament and presented findings in a report called Scrutiny Investigation into Young People’s Access to Transport.

Youth Parliament members surveyed 200 young people and looked at bus timetables, and found that the majority of bus services stopped after 6.30pm.

Ashleigh, 16, said: “The point was made that many young people are walking around late in the evening as they don’t all have access to other modes of transport.

“Young people are concerned that since buses have been cut this has restricted access to leisure opportunities.

“Taxis cost a lot and they don’t feel safe walking alone when going to places.”

She said young people also have to be home at an earlier time because they are having to walk from wherever they are.

The survey also found that attendance at college, training and work had been affected because of the lack of services.

One respondent in the survey said they had had to leave their job because of it and another concern was that the evening clinics at One Life Hartlepool, could not be accessed by those who need to travel by bus.

Robyn, 15, added: “Young people have clearly been affected by bus cuts.

“Solutions must be found.

“Bus companies should be thinking about reinstating night-time services.”

Central area resident representative Evelyn Leck said: “I agree with them whole-heartedly.

“At 6.30pm it’s lock-down in this town.

“We are locked up more or less for the night and I shiver when I see young teenagers walking past and I think ‘I hope they get home safe’.

“It’s not just young people, it’s all ages across town.”

The pair were congratulated on their hard work and the report is to be presented to the council’s neighbourhood services scrutiny forum.

Some bus services were axed last year as Hartlepool Borough Council slashed £287,000 from its supported bus budget for routes that operators Stagecoach North East and Arriva said were not viable.

Robin Knight, commercial director of Stagecoach North East, said: “The reduction in local Hartlepool services was brought about by cuts to local government funding.

“We continue to operate Services 6 and 7 without public subsidy on a Friday and Saturday evening and provide Service 36 in a similar manner seven nights of the week.

“Since last March when the tendered services were withdrawn we have been actively participating in the Town Wide Transport Forum and remain committed to working in partnership with our colleagues at Hartlepool Borough Council who review transport needs in Hartlepool and seek new and innovative ways of meeting them.”

Nick Knox, area managing director for Arriva North East, said: “In March 2011 Hartlepool Borough Council took the decision to remove funding for all supported bus services, unfortunately this meant that certain tendered Arriva services were withdrawn.

“On a positive note, we still operate commercial services in the area including the 22, 23 and 24 which provide great links between Durham, Peterlee and Hartlepool.”

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