The company is looking at all areas of its activities from investing millions of pounds on gas buses to bringing a state-of-the-art, on-demand bus service to Tees Valley.
Tees Flex is one of the UK’s most environmentally efficient services, run in partnership with Tees Valley Combined Authority and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.
The project was launched in early 2020, with specialist software developed to help deliver a reliable and convenient service for residents in more isolated communities across the area.
The Tees Flex service uses a fleet of nine Mercedes Sprinter buses kitted out with disabled access, USB charging sockets and leather seats.
Passengers from Darlington, Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland can pre-book the bus via an app or by phone to request pick-ups and drop-offs across the district, including train and bus stations.
The service also will help residents in isolated communities across Tees Valley benefit from training and employment opportunities and access essential services. In February 2021, the Tees Flex service was expanded and adjusted in 24 hours to include the Darlington arena and provide rides to and from the mass Covid vaccination site.
The three-year pilot has the potential to be extended across the wider region if successful.
Buses fuelled by sustainable biomethane gas are also on the agenda for reducing the firm’s carbon footprint - with lower running costs paving the way for further investment in environmental improvements.
Stagecoach also commissioned 66 new buses for its Newcastle depots and invested another £3m for 18 Enviro 200 buses for Teesside in 2019.
Research by KPMG shows that every £1 spent on local bus services sees an eight-fold return on investment in wider social, economic and environmental benefits – meaning Stagecoach’s programme of improvement has provided a multi-million pound reward for the North East.
*Thanks to NEECCo (www.neecco.org.uk) and to North East England Chamber of Commerce (www.neechamber.co.uk) for case study information.
This DRT solution, Tees Flex, is the first of its kind for Stagecoach anywhere in the country, but is now being replicated in other parts of the UK thanks to the learnings shared by the team in the North East.
Tees Flex was introduced primarily to reconnect members of rural communities who had become isolated due to bus services in their areas being cut due to unsustainability.
Throughout the process local communities were actively engaged to ensure all innovations and developments were understood by the end user and that communications reached anyone who could benefit from the service. Their feedback has been, and will continue to be, invaluable.
The algorithm delivers the most efficient itinerary possible, consolidating (aggregating) customer demands in real time, whilst also being mindful of customers’ requests for routing deviations. This in turn leads to huge, measurable savings in carbon emissions.