A North East MP has called out bus operator Arriva and has suggested it is leaving vulnerable people cut off in efforts to maximise the company’s profits.

Mr Vickers raised the issue with Transport Secretary Mark Harper, calling on him to help prevent Arriva from putting profit before people and to see what can be done to protect services in the area.

Despite millions in extra funding being offered by the government to protect and support local services, operator Arriva is going ahead with cuts to local services.

The 17 service connects Yarm, Eaglescliffe, Ingleby Barwick, and Stockton town centre and is due to be completely axed from Sunday, July 9.

The Northern Echo: Arriva has come under fire for planning to cut routes on Teesside. Picture: The Northern EchoArriva has come under fire for planning to cut routes on Teesside. Picture: The Northern Echo (Image: The Northern Echo)

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Several other routes are due to be severely reduced or withdrawn completely on July 9, as the operator blames a lack of funding from local authorities for allowing it to continue serving communities. 

It said the decision is seen as a “very last resort” and has been taken following “exhaustive efforts”, after failing to reach a funding agreement with the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). 

Arriva is rejecting an agreement with the TVCA and local councils that has been accepted by other operators including Stagecoach and Go North East with minimal route reductions.

Arriva’s cuts will all come into force from Sunday, July 9. This was announced before Arriva had complained to the Department for Transport about its settlement.

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Matt Vickers MP said: “The impact from Arriva’s proposed cuts and alterations will be huge, with commuters unable to access their jobs, healthcare, and education.

“Arriva’s decision to put profits before people is unfair, and leaves residents facing the consequences of a completely commercial decision.

“I am hopeful that the number of signatures will highlight how the community is being punished by Arriva’s decision.”

The Northern Echo: Matt Vickers MPMatt Vickers MP (Image: Office of Matt Vickers MP)

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A spokesperson for Arriva said: “In some areas, customer demand for our bus services has reduced, so we have changed our timetables.

 “As a dynamic transport operator, Arriva works hard to ensure that we adapt to our passengers’ demand and travel patterns, while making sure our services are punctual.

“The £1.5m additional funding has been given to Tees Valley Combined Authority as the Department for Transport acknowledges that a greater volume of routes are no longer viable for operators.

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“We look forward to working with them to see how this can be best used for passengers in TVCA.”

Cllr Steve Harker, labour leader for Darlington, previously told The Northern Echo: “They’re playing a silly game.

“It’s disrespectful how Arriva have treated the councils and the support that local people have given them over the last couple of years, but when it’s convenient for them to pull services they chose to do so without batting an eyelid.”