A new £3m state-of-the-art on-demand bus service has been launched across the region’s most isolated communities by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.
The Tees Flex service sees a fleet of nine new, high-quality Mercedes Sprinter buses hit the roads of the rural parts of Darlington & Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar & Cleveland.
Tees Flex can be booked via a smartphone app, a website or over the telephone. Operating six days a week, the service aims to help residents in more remote areas of the region access essential services, shops, amenities and job opportunities, or simply to see family and friends.
The service has been funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority and will be operated by Stagecoach for an initial three-year pilot. If the pilot is a success there is the potential for the service to be rolled out across the region.
Mayor Houchen said: “It’s fantastic to see Tees Flex officially launch. For far too long our rural communities have had to endure poor bus services.
“With the launch of Tees Flex local people in our more rural communities, from students and families to the elderly, will have the opportunities to get around our region quickly, easily, cheaply and in comfort.
“No longer will people be cut off from friends or family, or unable to access health services, get to the supermarket or to the jobs, training and opportunities we’re creating across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
“All they need to do is tap the app, log on or pick up the phone, and they can be picked up from right outside their door.”
Stagecoach North East managing director, Steve Walker, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the Mayor and Tees Valley Combined Authority to introduce this new service for the region.
“Tees Flex is an affordable transport solution which ensures local residents can play an active part in their communities, whilst providing on-demand access to employment, education, skills and training, and healthcare.
“Stagecoach has a 40-year history of keeping communities connected and we are very proud to be enhancing the experience for customers with this innovative new bus service and dedicated Tees Flex app.”
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.
Tees Flex will also serve Teesside International Airport, which last week announced it had secured holiday flights to Alicante starting this summer and is in the process of launching six new routes to destinations across UK and Ireland.