Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston have helped to kick-start a new bus service to ensure local people working at companies based at Teesport can get to and from their jobs.
After Mayor Preston raised concerns over the lack of bus routes servicing Teesport, Mayor Houchen acted rapidly to come up with a solution so that employees at sites such as the Tesco Distribution Warehouse could easily get to work if they didn’t have a car, with many on 24-hour shift patterns.
The situation also reduced opportunities for unemployed people without a car that could have otherwise attended interviews, training or apprenticeships on the site.
Mayor Houchen and the Combined Authority have now appointed bus operator Stagecoach to deliver a new bus service. The new route is being backed with £58,000 in funding from the metro mayor, with the goal of it eventually becoming fully commercially viable.
The service, numbered 101, runs between Middlesbrough Bus Station and Teesport three times a day via Thorntree Job Centre, Eston and South Bank, leaving the town at 5am, 1pm and 9pm to line up with workers’ shifts.
As well as single fares, passengers will also be able to take advantage of good value weekly tickets, with cut-price tickets for people under 19.
Mayor Houchen said: “When I first learned about this problem, I wasted no time in asking bus operators to come forward with solutions and I’d like to thank Andy for raising the issue with me. There is no point in helping businesses create jobs in our region if local people don’t have access to them.
“I’m delighted this new service is now up and running and those without a car can get to work and back again quicker and easier than ever before. We’ve worked closely with Stagecoach in the past on projects like our Tees Flex on-demand bus service, and we’re happy to be providing the crucial funding needed to get this service off the ground.
“Alongside Tees Flex and our Wheels 2 Work electric motorbike leasing scheme, this is yet another way we’re helping people who need it get to their jobs in a way that doesn’t break the bank, giving people the local transport network they deserve.”
Mayor Preston said: “This fantastic service will help more people in Middlesbrough get to work without hassle or worry, and give even more the opportunity to gain employment at businesses at Teesport.
“I’m over the moon that we’ve been able to find a solution to keep our people moving and improve their lives, and I look forward to hearing about this route’s future success.”
One person to benefit from the new service is Richard Dowson, 34, from Thorntree, who works at Tesco Distribution at Teesport. He said: “I have been cycling to work ever since I started four years ago, so this bus is a big help, especially now in the winter months when the weather is miserable. I have often had to use a taxi which costs more one way than what I am paying for the weekly ticket now!”
David Parker, Commercial Director at Stagecoach North East, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Mayor Houchen and the Tees Valley Combined Authority to deliver another transport solution for our area, following the successful introduction of Tees Flex.
“Our bus services provide vital links for local people and are crucial in connecting people with employment opportunities every day.
“The new service 101 creates a direct link to these jobs from many neighbourhoods across east Middlesbrough, as well as from Eston, South Bank and Grangetown. We’ve also introduced a special new £12 weekly ticket, exclusive on service 101, to supplement our wider range of great fares offers.”