A BUS company has responded to claims made in Parliament that its buses fail to meet the needs of the frail and disabled.

Stagecoach bosses were angered by the claims made by Hartlepool MP, Iain Wright, and the comments made by Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, criticising the group for putting profits ahead of quality service.

The company is calling on Mr Wright to apologise for his claims, which appeared in The Northern Echo today (Monday, January 13), maintaining they have invested more than £455m in new vehicles over the past six years.

A company spokesman said: “Mr Wright's misinformed claims about the standard of bus transport provided by Stagecoach bear absolutely no resemblance to reality and he has his facts wrong on many counts.

“Local people in Hartlepool deserve better from someone who should know the true picture in his constituency. Our team of hard working bus drivers and support staff will find his comments offensive and deserve an apology.”

He added: "The entire local bus network is run commercially by Stagecoach at our own financial risk. Hartlepool has a fleet of nearly 40 modern, fully wheelchair accessible buses. The average age of the local fleet is 6.8 years, with the oldest 10 years old. This is a world away from Mr Wright's fairy tales of 20 and 30-year-old buses.”

The comments from the two MPs came during a Commons debate on the difficulties facing disabled people when they try to use public transport.

The spokesman added: "We are in the middle of investing £3m to ensure that every one of our 8,000 buses is covered by automatic vehicle location technology. This can communicate data to a smartphone app which would provide essential support to blind and partially sighted people not only whilst they are on the bus but whilst they are at the bus stop and after they alight.”

The company has written to every MP in the country to address their concerns about the picture painted in Parliament.