A demand responsive bus service will be piloted in the Tees Valley in a bid to improve transport links in rural communities across the region.
It will allow passengers to pre-book their public transport via phone, app or website.They will be able to request pick-up and drop-off points within the serviced area, and to destinations including transport hubs and hospitals outside of the area.
The pilot, announced by Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, and the region’s Combined Authority Cabinet, will cover areas in and around Darlington, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland.
The scheme aims to help residents in more isolated communities access essential services and training and employment opportunities that are being created across Tees Valley.
Procurement is now under way and it is expected the new model will be up and running by the end of 2019 for a minimum of three years. If successful, there is potential to extend the service into other rural and possibly urban areas.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “People in rural areas are frequently left behind as routes are decided by bus companies that need to make a profit.
“We’re driving cash into every part of our transport network, from upgrades to our major train stations, roads, and walking and cycling routes and an airport that’s now in our control – but I can’t nationalise buses. That’s why this Uber-style service is a great answer for residents not already served by other transport means.”