Stagecoach North East to start DRT contract next month

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Stagecoach North East are seen taking delivery of the first two vehicles from EVM Direct. EVM

Tees Valley Combined Authority awarded Stagecoach North East with a contract to operate a demand responsive transport service for a three-year trial period, which will start in the New Year

Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) awarded Stagecoach North East with a contract to provide the Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) service for three years.

The service, which will operate in rural areas of the Tees Valley region, will use Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based EVM Citylines. Two of these have now been delivered in all over silver, with a further six to follow.

TVCA has agreed an average arrival time of 45 minutes, due to the rural nature of the network. As well as the app, passengers will also be able to use a website or phone a call centre to book the service.

Sadberge and Low Dinsdale east of Darlington will be served as well as Elwick and West Hartlepool. Part of East Cleveland, east of Guisborough and Saltburn will also be part of the trial, as will villages west of Stockton thanks to input from Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham.

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 to get those people not served by other routes moving and where they need to be.”

Cllr Heather Scott, Combined Authority Cabinet lead for Transport, said: “Everyone in Tees Valley deserves reliable, affordable and good-quality public transport, no matter where they live.

“There’s no point in us working hard to create jobs and training, or to improve our town centres and attractions if our residents can’t access any of it. This scheme will help those who need it most benefit from the opportunities and changes we’re bringing about.”

Managing Director of Stagecoach North East, Steve Walker, told the Northern Echo: “The introduction of this DRT service is a vital step towards connecting members of our rural communities with employment opportunities, transport links, work and education by using state-of-the-art mobile app technology developed specifically for this new transport service.

“DRT provides greater flexibility for our customers than ever before, allowing them to design their own route across the Tees Valley and bridging the gap between bus and taxi services.”