A bus driver from a remote Northumberland valley has set up his own transport firm in a bid to help residents hindered by a lack of public services.
Steve Hurst, 29, from Rothbury in Northumberland, has lived in the village since he was three and has shared fellow residents’ frustration over the shortage of bus services to towns and cities.
The bus driver has now set up his own transport company in a bid to help local people get out and about more, and is even offering a delivery service.
Steve, a former pupil at Rothbury first and middle schools and at King Edward VI in Morpeth, said: “Basically with all the removal of the service around this area over the years, not just the younger generation, the generations all the way through has felt more and more isolated and getting out to social events had become more difficult.
“It is not just the young people as well, the elderly, middle aged wanting to go out to see shows and to the cinema as well as evening meals.
“Because we are so rural taxi fares are just not possible at all. The nearest town Morpeth or Alnwick is £30, it is £60 to Newcastle.
“So you would have to travel in large groups to bring the prices down.”
Perhaps because of those difficulties, Steve has always been interested in public transport.
The High Street resident has worked for the last ten years in the sector, supervising demand responsive buses for the likes of Nexus.
He has also driven for Go North East, Arriva Northumbria and local company Rothbury Motors.
“I just saw a gap in the dwindling services here that I thought needed filling.”
Steve began carrying out research, distributing 2.500 questionnaires, to establish local transport needs.
In September, he launched Spirit Buses at Rothbury, with he as one of two drivers.
The company provides services to allow local residents to catch a bus back from evening shows at Alnwick Playhouse and from late train services to Alnmouth Station.
It runs services to Alnwick and the station seven days a week, around Coquetdale three days a week, to Scots Gap, Wallington Hall and Cambo two days and to Elsdon one day.
Spirit Buses also provides an informal delivery service, having transported some unusual cargo including dogs and cats, Christmas trees and bikes.
In the summer, Steve hopes to provide routes with commentary from local historians and wildlife experts.
He said: “A lot of these communities have been cut off 40 odd years, without a regular bus service.
“Lifeline is a word, it is throwing them a chance to get out.
“It has always been an interest. I love this valley as well, to have an opportunity to do this, an opportunity to help people has been fantastic.”