A bookable bus service has been launched in County Durham to make it easier for people to get to work.

Durham County Council has launched Link2work, a new flexible service which allows people to get the bus to work where local bus services are not available.

The scheme allows passengers to book their journeys to work and back in advance and tailor them around shift patterns.

Journeys can be booked up to 14 days in advance, and up to 5pm the day before travelling, using a 24/7 phone line.

Customers tell the operator which days they need to travel and the location from where they will be picked up, and the bus operator will arrange the journey.

The Link2work service will cover:

  • Stanley to Consett Hownsgill (Greencore)
  • Stanley to Team Valley
  • West Auckland/Bishop Auckland/Shildon to Aycliffe Business Park
  • Trimdon/Sedgefield to Aycliffe Business Park

Following an initial free travel period, the fare will be £2 per journey which is paid when getting on the bus. Concessionary bus travel passes can also be used.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “Access to travel can be one of the biggest barriers to learning, training, work, and social opportunities. For those who rely on public transport, it can be a significant challenge to get to and stay in work if services run outside of their shift patterns.

“The Link2Work scheme aims to remove this barrier and ensure residents have the freedom to access those work opportunities. It also promotes the use of public transport and sustainable travel, aligning with our net zero aspirations to tackle climate change.”

Following a successful pilot elsewhere in the region, a second scheme has been introduced, to offer free bus travel to care leavers in County Durham.

This will provide travel to around 200 young people aged 18 to 25 across County Durham who have recently left local authority care.

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The Northern Echo: They will each be provided a Pop smart card with an annual Network One season ticket, providing a free year’s travel on the bus across County Durham, Northumberland, and Tyne and Wear.

Both schemes have been funded through the region’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) which is delivering a number of improvements for passengers including fare promotions, enhancements to services and infrastructure investment.

To book a journey for Link2work, customers can call the bus operator on 0191 469 6000.

The full timetable for each area can be found by clicking here