July 24, 2019 @ 14:45 by Richard Dawson
New plans to create an ‘Uber-style’ bus service to reach more remote areas of Teesside have been revealed by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.
The aim is to provide an improved service to parts of the region where there is a lack of public transport available, with areas like Darlington, East Cleveland, and West Hartlepool in line to benefit.
The announcement comes as welcome news to the residents of Teesside, for whom the recent collapse of bus company Stagecarriage has left a gap in the public transport network.
This new service would allow residents to book a place on the bus via a smartphone app, online, or over the phone, with nearby reservations being matched up and a pick-up route scheduled by the network’s system in real time.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Routes, fares and timetables are set by private bus companies so understandably they tend to favour areas that make them money.
“The problem here is that rural areas, where there’s less demand, get cut off and residents have to endure poor connectivity.
“An on-demand ‘Uber-style’ bus network covering remote areas powered by technology is the best way to address these issues in the short term, so I am making some funding available to make it a reality in the Tees Valley.
“I don’t have the power to nationalise buses, but we can and will step in to ensure people in more remote areas finally get access to good quality, frequent public transport.”
The new service is due to be piloted in East Cleveland, as well as other more rural areas, by the end of the year and is planned to operate for at least three years.
If the service is a success, there are plans to roll it out to other areas of Teesside, and there’s also the potential to improve services going to and from Durham Tees Valley Airport.