“People power” was today credited with saving rural bus services threatened with the axe.
Campaigners are celebrating after Lancashire County Council announced it will subsidise newly altered bus routes meaning villagers in rural Fylde and Wyre will be reconnected with Blackpool and Preston.
From Monday, the Number 76, which connects Great Eccleston with St Annes, will have its route extended to connect the village with Blackpool, while the Number 80 service will return from April 14 – joining up Elswick and Great Eccleston with Preston.
The villages were left with no public transport links when the Number 80 service was terminated after Classic Bus North West, which had taken over the route in the wake of council cuts, suspended trading.
Coun Paul Hayhurst, who represents Fylde West, said: “Suddenly this part of the world has got buses again, everybody’s delighted.
“People power has worked and the good thing is people can now get to hospital, the health centre, school and places of employment.
“I’d like to thank (council transport portfolio holder) Coun John Fillis who listened to people from the area and came up with this excellent solution for us.
“I’d like to thank everybody that wrote in, it shows what it means to the community getting that bus back.”
The Number 75 service - connecting Fleetwood, Poulton, Kirkham and Preston - has also seen its route amended to stop in Hardhorn.
Coun Alf Clempson, who represents Poulton on Lancashire County Council, said: “The one big thing with the 75 service was getting it to go back down Hardhorn Road, and I’m very pleased we have done that.
“It’s a victory for residents and passengers.”
The county council had planned to save £3.8m over the next two years by withdrawing subsidies which enable certain rural, evening and Sunday services to operate.
Coun Fillis said: “We’re making changes to a number of our subsidised buses which serve Preston, Fylde and Wyre to fill in the gaps left by commercial services being withdrawn by bus companies.
“In the current budgetary climate we can in no way afford to fund direct replacements for these services, so we’re making carefully planned adjustments to reduce the impact of the bus companies’ commercial decisions.
“These changes are needed to ensure that whole areas which would have no, or much poorer, public transport links, will stay connected to the wider network which is vital for people to get to work and make hospital appointments.”