Hartlepool bus route cut back - after council spends £12,000 on new stops at Stagecoach’s request

Council chiefs have defended spending £12,000 installing six new bus stops on a Hartlepool estate - for a service that has now been cut back due to low passenger numbers.

Hartlepool Borough Council put in three bus stops on either side of Merlin Way at the request of Stagecoach for its 3/3A service which, until September, ran the full length of Merlin Way.

The new bus stops on Merlin Way. Picture by FRANK REID

The new bus stops on Merlin Way. Picture by FRANK REID

Low passenger numbers have seen the route curtailed to Bluebell Way with the new stops only being used during college times - when Stagecoach says there is still a demand.

The council says it expects the new crossings, funded by the Government through the Local Transport Plan, to be needed when 500 new homes in the area are built.

But Merlin Way resident Trevor Jones accused the council of wasting money that could have been spent on traffic calming measures.

He said: “For a year this bus service has been running empty buses. It has been a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

“Two of my vehicles have been written off outside my property without anybody held responsible for their actions due to speeding.

“There is an accident waiting to happen with Sainsbury’s supermarket and a pizza shop that attracts small children to cross Merlin Way.

“If the council asked the residents of Bishop Cuthbert what is needed more, six bus stops or speed restriction ramps/zebra crossing we know what the answer would be.”

A council spokesperson said: “With the Council having given approval for 500 new homes at Upper Warren, in installing the three sets of bus stops on Merlin Way we are not simply meeting the current need for the college-time bus services, we are also looking ahead to the expected increase in demand along the route when the new housing is complete, so the bus stops certainly aren’t a waste of money.”

The council added plans for a toucan crossing on Merlin Way are a separate matter and welcomed a commitment by the developer of the new homes to provide it at the earliest opportunity.