“Cuts to south Middlesbrough bus services show the market is rigged” claims Tom Blenkinsop MP

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (March 17th 2015) hit out at what he called a “rigged market” which has meant that some bus services serving Hemlington, Coulby Newham and Marton will be coming off the road this Friday (20th March 2015).

Routes scheduled to be terminated include the 18 and 19 which operate a service linking Hemlington, Coulby Newham and Marton on a circular route. The other service to end is the early morning 603 and 604 buses linking Coulby Newham and Hemlington with Middlesbrough Town Centre.

Tom said:
“These services have been operated for many years by Leven Valley Buses and have provided a service that I know have been well liked by local passengers. In addition the 18 and 19 also calls at the front door of the James Cook University Hospital giving a direct link for local hospital visitors and out patients.

“Leven Valley say that – and I genuinely believe them on this – they are sad to end these routes, but claim that the company could not go on as it was due to factors including the loss of local council support, increased costs for running services and not having the advantages of scale that rival multi-national operators like Arriva or Stagecoach enjoy – and in particular the costs of insuring their bus fleet.

“This shows just how rigged the deregulated bus market is towards small firms like Leven Valley. If Arriva or Stagecoach were to announce that they were looking to re-tender their total insurance needs on the market, they would be besieged by insurers looking for a blue chip customer. But for local firms, they are left to drift in a commercial sea of disinterest and high premiums.

“We need a shake-up of the bus market and the rules for entry to this market.  Meanwhile in the short term and in the absence of any interest by the big bus companies in picking up these routes, I have written to Middlesbrough Council’s Chief Executive asking if they will re-tender the already supported 603 and 604 service and consider taking the 18 and 19 route under their wing.”

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