TRANSPORT bosses have been told bus services covering a borough are totally inadequate, with poor routes, unattractively priced fares and poor reliability.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee heard claims that widespread dissatisfaction with the bus services had contributed to the number of bus passenger journeys in the borough falling from 7.8 million in 2010/11 to just 5.5 million last year.

Councillors said it was frustrating for many residents that buses generally ran to and from the town centre, when many potential passengers wanted to get from a housing estate to an employment hub on the outskirts of the borough.

They said to attract more passengers bus fares needed to be significantly cheaper than taxis or driving.

Cockerton ward member Councillor Jan Cossins said she had been forced to get a taxi to the meeting at the Town Hall due to the persistent unreliability of buses.

She said: “It’s not just me, there’s a whole town of people complaining about buses.”

Eastbourne ward councillor Steven Tait told the meeting his sole transport to work was taxis as the only bus services took him “completely the opposite way”.

He said: “For me to get to be able to get a bus service from where I live I would first need to come into the town centre. What are we doing to look at providing services to these areas where we are creating business opportunities?”

Councillor Sam Howarth added it was “ludicrous and outrageous” that elderly Red Hall residents had to get a bus in and out of the town centre to get to the doctors’ surgery less than a mile away in Whinfield.

Officers replied the council was working closely with the bus operators on new developments, such as the Amazon warehouse, but could not determine the routes and the powers over tackling persistently late services rested with the transport commissioner. They said bus firms examined constant volumes of passengers through the day rather than ones aimed at commuters.

They added they were bidding for funds to improve traffic flows on key corridors into the town, such as the A68.

Councillors were also told consultants were examining the best approach to working with bus operators across the Tees Valley, which could see public-private partnerships created.