Flexible Uber-style book-as-you-go bus service to serve cut off Hartlepool communities

A flexible new book-as-you-go bus service connecting rural communities in the Tees Valley including Hartlepool has been unveiled.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 3:34 pm
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 11:00 am

Tees Flex, launching on Monday, February 24, is a new ‘on demand’ service operated by Stagecoach North East and funded by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the combined authority.

Nine new 16-seater Mercedes Sprinter buses will collect passengers in isolated areas of Darlington and Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland and Hartlepool to help people of all ages get to work, college or medical appointments.

In Hartlepool, passengers in the west of the town, including villages Elwick, Hart, Dalton Piercy and Wynyard, must pre-book the bus via a smartphone app, the website or over the telephone.

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Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths, Councillor Heather Scott of Tees Valley Combined Authority and Stagecoach North East Managing Director Steve Walker in front of one of the new Tees Flex buses which can be booked using a smartphone app.

They can chose to be collected from a pick-up point closest to their home and be dropped off at points within the serviced area, and to destinations at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, town centre, Transport Interchange, Maritime Avenue or Queens Meadow Business Park.

Councillor Heather Scott, the combined authority’s transport portfolio holder, said: “It’s part of the transport plan for the Tees Valley. We’re trying to give rural communities more access.

“This will give residents the opportunity to go to the hospital, doctors appointments and so forth.

“Hopefully, after the three-year pilot we will be able to expand into other areas.”

The green zone shows where the new buses will collect pick up and drop off passengers while the locations in red are its destinations.

Adult fares range from £1 (single) and £1.50p (return) for distances under two miles, to £4 and £6 over 10 miles.

Under 19s single fares are between 50p and £2 while bus passes are accepted.

Passengers aged between five and 19 get on for half price on all single fares and under fives ride for free.

Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This Tees Flex service is a great answer to get those not served by other routes moving and where they need to be.”

One of the new Tees Flex buses that will be operated by Stagecoach.

Councillor Hilary Thompson, chair of the parish council in Elwick which has been without a major bus operator for a number of years, said: “It’s an excellent idea.

“We have elderly people who need to access services and can’t nowadays so we’re looking forward to learning how this works in connecting the villages once again.”