Promising start for returned buses

Left to right, Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond, Phil Medlicott, Coun Marjorie James, Coun Jim Ainslie and Alastair Smith, the council's assistant director of transportation and engineering, when the number 7 bus was reinstated
Left to right, Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond, Phil Medlicott, Coun Marjorie James, Coun Jim Ainslie and Alastair Smith, the council's assistant director of transportation and engineering, when the number 7 bus was reinstated
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TRANSPORT chiefs who warned passengers to “use it or lose it” after reinstating two bus services say user numbers are off to a promising start.

Stagecoach North East says passenger numbers are looking “hopeful” after bringing back the number 1 High Tunstall to Middlesbrough service on a Sunday and the number 7 Owton Manor to Middlegate service on Sunday evenings and weekday evenings for a trial period.

The services were relaunched on November 11, and company chiefs are reporting an average of seven passengers per journey on the returned routes, though bosses have warned that night-time usage is bringing the averages down.

 Since the relaunch, the number 1 route now operates a Sunday daytime service every 30 minutes.

The number 7 route also now operates an evening service every 30 minutes Sunday to Thursday. It previously operated on Friday and Saturday evenings only.

Stagecoach North East managing director, Phil Medlicott, said: “It’s a promising start for the services with numbers looking hopeful. But while the day and evening services are remaining popular, carrying up to 15 to 20 customers per journey, the night services running after 10pm unfortunately aren’t holding the same patronage, bringing the total average down.

“This indicates that there is less demand for the much later services but the earlier services are very positive, with passenger numbers at the level we hoped they would be.

“We will continue to monitor the services and hope that those who originally wanted the later services to be re-instated continue to use them and encourage others to do so too, as they do provide a safe and efficient travel option for the local community.”

The services have been reinstated for a trial period and then a decision to permanently reinstate the services will be based on the findings of passenger usage.

It followed the withdrawal of a £287,000 Hartlepool Borough Council subsidy for a number of evening and weekend bus services due to budget pressures and Stagecoach bosses saying some routes weren’t commercially viable.