Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has once again teamed up with a local bus company to support the rollout of the coronavirus mass vaccination programme.
Working with Stagecoach North East Mayor Houchen has setup a free shuttle service to get local people to vaccination appointments at the Riverside Stadium. The service using buses that are normally part of the Tees Flex fleet, the on-demand bus service introduced by the Mayor Houchen last year.
The move is the latest step taken by Mayor Houchen to support the vaccination effort across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
As the national effort to get the lifesaving jabs into people’s arms ramped up in early January, Mayor Houchen urged people from across the region to join a ‘Jab Army’ of volunteers to support the local vaccination centres.
Mayor Houchen also urged businesses to guarantee time off for staff who want to volunteer as steward volunteers at a vaccination centre.
In February, the metro mayor arranged for the Tees Flex buses to be used in Hartlepool to help get homecare workers from the town to the University Hospital of North Tees for their coronavirus jab. Allowing them to safely continue supporting the elderly and vulnerable across the town.
Local people with appointments can catch the free shuttle service from Stand 15 at Middlesbrough Bus Station every 20 minutes from 07:45 until 20:05. It will also pick up and drop people off at Middlesbrough Railway Station Stand U on Exchange Place.
The Tees Flex services are operated by Stagecoach North East’s dedicated depot team in Stockton-on-Tees.
Mayor Houchen said: “Coronavirus vaccines are going into people’s arms at an extraordinary rate, and everyone involved should be incredibly proud of the role they are playing, there really is light at the end of the tunnel now.
“While the progress of the vaccination programme has been amazing, with over 50 percent of adults across the UK having had at least one dose, we cannot let up for one minute.
“I’ve made the Tees Flex buses available throughout the pandemic and when the new vaccination centre opened earlier this week at the Riverside Stadium, I knew the Tees Flex buses could once again provide an invaluable service.
“This free shuttle service makes it quick and easy for local people, who might not drive or have another way of getting to the Riverside, to get to their critical vaccination appointment.
“Our NHS heroes and volunteers are working tirelessly across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to get people vaccinated, and I’m pleased the Tees Flex buses are playing their part once in the effort to get the lifesaving jabs to local people.”
Steve Walker, Managing Director for Stagecoach North East, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the vaccination roll-out across the Tees Valley by allocating a Tees Flex vehicle to this free shuttle service.
“Our Stockton team is tireless in its efforts to support members of local communities and has helped to keep people connected with essential services and amenities throughout this challenging year.
“I would like to thank those who have already made use of the free shuttle service for their commitment to following our COVID-safe travel guidance and am confident that the service will provide a crucial link for a significant number of local people over the coming weeks and months.”