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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
Probe into value of bus services
Bus services on Teesside are to be the subject of a special inquiry amid concerns over how effective they are.

Hartlepool Borough Council says the public has a "poor perception" of the town's public transport network.

It has now launched an eight-month-long inquiry into whether existing bus routes fit the needs of residents.

The authority says it wants to ensure that the 715,000 a year paid in subsidies to bus operators is value for money for taxpayers.

The inquiry will examine the current infrastructure and quality of the town's bus network, including shelters, traffic management, bus priority measures, signs and the quality of the buses themselves.

Social interaction

It will also consider whether current bus service routes meet needs including enabling people to travel to and from work, local shops, leisure facilities, schools and hospitals.

Kevin Cranney, chair of the council's neighbourhood services scrutiny forum, said: "Like most elected members, I have some concerns about the amount of public money that goes to support local bus services and to subsidise local travel.

"This currently stands at over 715,000 each year.

"However, the cost of ensuring that services run where and when needed and that fares can be afforded must be measured against the benefits gained.

"These benefits include the social interaction of our elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups, and the safe transportation of our children to and from school."

The forum is expected to publish its findings in April 2006.

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