Tees Valley’s £3million state-of-the-art on-demand bus service has been expanded to new areas across the region due its popularity, with more than 1,000 passengers a week using the service.
Tees Flex’s fleet of nine high-quality Mercedes Sprinter buses hit the road across rural parts of Darlington & Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar & Cleveland in March this year, helping people in more remote areas of the region access essential services, shops, amenities and job opportunities, or see family and friends
As a result of its success, from Tuesday 1 September the buses will serve a number of new destinations, such as Nunthorpe Station and James Cook Hospital for residents of Redcar & Cleveland; Greatham Village, Tees Bay Retail Park and Hartlepool College for those in Hartlepool; and the Amazon Warehouse, Egglescliffe School and Stockton Riverside College for people in Stockton and Darlington, along with many more.
Passenger numbers have remained strong on the service despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past four weeks, Tees Flex has had almost 4,300 riders – around 1070 per week
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The take-up for our Tees Flex service has been strong from the outset and the fact that more than 4,000 people have used the buses in the last four weeks just goes to show how vital it was to help those in our rural communities to get about.
“Now, just over five months after its launch, we’re able to expand the service by adding many new destinations like schools, colleges, stations and hospitals so local people have more opportunities to get around our region quickly, cheaply and easily.
“Despite it being a relatively new service and the impacts of coronavirus being felt across all public transport, we’ve seen the number of Tees Flex passengers grow and grow. It’s not just about the numbers, though, it’s about the quality of the product. We have had exceptionally high levels of customer satisfaction, with the average rating never dropping below 4.8 out of 5 for any week.
“As we begin to recover our economy, it’s more important than ever that people can access health services, get to the supermarket or to the local jobs and training opportunities we are creating for local people in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. Now they can do all that with a touch of a button – with more locations making the service even more useful and convenient for everyone in our region.”
As a result of the pandemic, new safety measures have been introduced, including the wearing of face masks and limiting customer numbers to six per vehicle, to ensure those using the service have the safest journey possible.
Tees Flex, which operates six days a week, can be booked via a smartphone app, a website or over the telephone. This initial three-year pilot has been funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority and is being operated by Stagecoach.
Single and return journeys can be made to requested pick-up and drop-off points within one of three serviced areas to secondary destinations including train stations and hospitals across that borough.
Stagecoach North East Managing Director Steve Walker said: “We’re delighted to be announcing an expansion to the Tees Flex operating zones, which is testament to the service’s value, convenience and growing popularity,
“Buses remain vital for people accessing employment, education and healthcare, and we are committed to providing convenient and affordable solutions which help to encourage people out of their cars and onto greener bus services.
“Tees Flex is a state-of-the-art transport solution for Tees Valley and has proven immensely successful since its launch. We’re pleased to be working in partnership with the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority to expand Tees Flex and look forward to welcoming customers from new areas of Tees Valley this September.”
For more information on the new destinations Tees Flex will serve and updated coronavirus travel guidance, visit teesflex.co.uk