People are being urged to use bus service linking Hartlepool and rural communities

Sue Little (left) with Rural West ward councillors (left to right) Ray Martin-Wells, Brenda Loynes and George Morris who have supported the service
Sue Little (left) with Rural West ward councillors (left to right) Ray Martin-Wells, Brenda Loynes and George Morris who have supported the service

A bus operator is reminding users a service is still running despite a shortage of funding.

Paul’s Travel runs a bus service three times a week between Elwick Village and Hartlepool town centre with the majority of passengers being pensioners.

For people who use it, it is an essential service

Sue Little, Pauls Travel

Despite running at a loss, Sue Little, of the bus company, says she will continue to provide it for as long as people need it.

Mrs Little said: “A lot of people think it has finished but it hasn’t, it is still going.

“Numbers have dropped in the last few weeks, but we are still here for as long as I can, and while people are still using it.

“The route is exactly the same. The passengers who use it are very loyal and it isn’t stopping.”

The service costs £27,000 a year for Paul’s Travel to run, but says it is running at a deficit of about £5,500.

However, Mrs Little said she is determined to continue to run it for as long as possible as it is “essential” for many of her passengers.

She added: “For people who use it, it is an essential service. If they were to lose it, they would have to rely on taxis, which can be so expensive.

“If you were to go into town two or three times a week it could cost £30 out of their pension, or £10 to go to a doctor’s appointment. I just want to give peace of mind that it is staying on.”

Several Hartlepool councillors have made contributions towards the bus provision through their ward member budgets.

The minibus runs three times a day on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

The route begins in Elwick and calls at Dalton Piercy, Hartfields retirement village, West Park, Ryehill Gardens, Tunstall Avenue, Grange Road, Victoria Road, Asda, Schooner Court and Burbank Street.

The service also receives funding from Hartfields owners the Joseph Rowntree Trust.

Paul’s Travel launched the service after a successful trial four years ago to help residents left stranded, after big funding cuts to Hartlepool Borough Council’s supported bus services.

It led to operators, including Stagecoach, axing several routes, which it said had become unprofitable.

People in Elwick, Dalton Piercy and Schooner Court on the marina were most affected.

Mrs Little stressed the Paul’s Travel service was available for passengers of all ages, with those under 16 and in full-time education travelling or free.

For adults, a return journey from Elwick costs £3.