Cabinet to hear update on regional bus services
Councillors at a North East authority will hear how bus services have been supported throughout the challenges of the last year.
Cabinet will hear an annual update on the transport activity carried out under delegation from the North East Joint Transport Committee from 2021 to 2022.
When it meets on Wednesday 14 September, Cabinet will hear how the coronavirus pandemic has continued to have a substantial impact on commercial bus services, with passenger numbers remaining at least 20 per cent below pre-pandemic levels and travel by concessionary pass holders low in comparison to other passengers.
Bus service providers
The meeting will also hear how the county's main bus service providers continue to face problems due to driver shortages, with buses failing when there is no staff available.
Due to these challenges, we extended our existing contracts for an additional year and arranged new contracts to sustain previously commercial services.
Two further contracts were also replaced where driver shortages meant the previous contractor was unable to continue.
Cllr Richard Bell, deputy leader and Cabinet member for finance, said: "Like many services and industries, bus transport has and continues to be significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
"As part of our delegated responsibilities from the North East Transport Committee, we have taken measures to support commercial bus operators through subsidies and taking on contracts.
"We are also continuing our school and social care transport services, as well as maintaining our in-house fleet to provide accessible transport for residents with low mobility or who have been affected by changes in bus services."
We continue to carry out our transport responsibilities through an Integrated Passenger Transport Group which delivers public, home to school, Special Education Needs and adult social care transport.
During this school year, an estimated 6,500 pupils received free travel to school through us, with a further 3,000 pupils travelling under the non-statutory concessionary schemes.
We also continue to operate a Travel Response Centre service on behalf of the NHS County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group, booking non-emergency transport services for patients' health appointments, as well as referrals from social workers for travel to adult day care.
We run our Link2 scheme for anyone in the county who is unable to access regular bus services, which can be used for travel including shopping, work, training, and health appointments.
We also offer an Access Bus which provides a door-to-door transport service for people with limited mobility.