A council has been urged to improve the “dreadful” bus services in Darlington.

Councillors were told a raft of improvements are due to be carried out across Tess Valley including new bus shelters, timetables and information.  

The local transport Connect team and Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) will implement the changes in the coming months. 

All bus shelters in Darlington will be refurbished or replaced to provide a better passenger experience, the council said. 

A review of the way at-stop bus information is displayed is also being carried out, and includes a revised layout and new TVCA branding. Advertising company Clear Channel will work with councils in the district to devise and deliver a programme of shelter renewal and refurbishment across the Tees Valley, the council added. 

But the Darlington Green Party warned the changes are not enough to improve the ailing service provided by bus operators in and around the town. 

Cllr Roz Henderson told the meeting: “This is tinkering around the edges because the real problem is the dreadful bus services that Darlington residents are seeing. 

“I appreciate some bus services have been saved, but we’re still maintaining a poor service. What are we doing, as a council, to ensure the residents can see some real improvements to the frequency and coverage rather than the decline?”

Councillor Libby McCollom, cabinet member for local services, said the local council works in partnership with TVCA to improve bus services and said the Labour Party continues to provide "pressure" to the authority for improvements. 

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The concerns come as bus services in the Tees Valley were ranked as some of the worst in England. Just 76 per cent of passengers were satisfied in the region, a survey by watchdog Transport Focus indicated.

Waiting times were also rated some of the worst out of all areas. Just 60 per cent of people in Tees Valley said they were satisfied, however bus drivers were roundly supported.

Dozens of Arriva routes in Darlington were axed by the bus operator last year after it said it was unable to agree a concessionary deal with local authorities. Some routes have since been picked up by other operators but the cuts continue to impact communities today. Overall bus use remains lower than pre-pandemic levels and is not set to succeed that any time soon.