28 Nov 2019
Stagecoach has continued to demonstrate its commitment to connecting the communities of Middlesbrough, Stockton and Hartlepool with the introduction of 18 brand new buses.
Operating from the company's Stockton depot, the buses feature state-of-the-art technology, including large rear destination screens and audio visual next stop announcements with scrolling LED displays.
These improvements to the fleet demonstrate a commitment to giving passengers an enhanced travel experience, and the local bus company have been working with local community groups, North East Action on Transport and Safe in Tees Valley, as part of a wider programme of engagement.
The local Stagecoach team has been working with key user group, North East Action on Transport (NEAT), to develop the next stop announcement technology for passengers with visual impairments, and recently hosted a consultation with its members to encourage feedback on vital aspects, including volume, timing and clarity.
NEAT is an informal user led group with aims to make public transport more accessible to people with a visual impairment. The group is comprised of service users and staff from sight loss charities and organisations, such as Guide dogs and RNIB.
Angus Huntley, Empowerment Officer for Newcastle Vision Support, said: "North East Action on Transport welcomes the introduction of the new vehicles on Teesside and the audio announcements and visual displays, which now make bus travel much more accessible to people with sight loss. We believe the introduction of this technology is an important step in improving the travel experience for people with sight loss, helping them to feel more confident and be more independent."
Steve Walker, Managing Director at Stagecoach North East, said: "We believe that providing accessible travel is central to encouraging modal shift to public transport. By embracing new technology and continually investing in improvements for our customers, we're helping to break down barriers for those unfamiliar with bus travel. We're delighted that this new technology is helping to make life easier for all of our passengers and making buses a better option. We would like to thank the team from NEAT for their valuable contribution."
The new buses were showcased at a launch event on Stockton High Street on Friday 18 October 2019. Stagecoach were joined at the event by the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and Safe in Tees Valley (SITV), a community partnership that promotes safe communities and offers free and confidential victim services.
Stagecoach observes a Zero Tolerance Policy towards anti-social behaviour on board, by passengers and drivers alike, which SITV are supporting in a combined effort with the Police and Crime Commissioner to address key safety concerns among vulnerable bus user groups.
Another key aspect of the partnership is the inclusion of victim support information on established passenger materials, such as Journey Assistance Cards, which are used to discreetly inform the driver of any individual need, disability or specific help that may be required during a journey with Stagecoach.
Joanne Hodgkinson, Chief Executive Officer, Safe in Tees Valley, said: "Safe in Tees Valley are proud to join Stagecoach, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and Cleveland Police in upholding the message; that hate crime and antisocial behaviour should, and will not, be tolerated in our communities.
"We believe that Cleveland should be a safe and inclusive place for all members of the community, and that should extend to the right to safely access and share public transport."