BUS passengers are celebrating victory after people power brought back a vital village bus service.
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate a Stagecoach service through Morton village, after it was axed at the beginning of April.
And it seems their protest has been answered with positive action as Stagecoach has agreed to restore the route.
“This is a real victory for the people of Morton and Gainsborough,” said Coun Lesley Rollings who sits on Morton Parish, Gainsborough Town and West Lindsey District councils.
“This is a fine example of what can be achieved when people work together to find solutions and don’t merely cut whole services as a means of saving money.”
Stagecoach had removed the top end of Morton from its 1 and 1A Gainsborough Into Town service, instead replacing it with the Interconnect 100 which runs along Ropery Road, Morton Front and Vanessa Drive.
Villagers living near Laughton Lane End were outraged, saying they were effectively ‘stranded’ without a regular bus service.
But Stagecoach insisted it was a necessary measure to reduce the service due to rising operating costs.
However, an agreement has been reached following talks between Stagecoach, Morton Parish Council and Lincolnshire County Council.
Dave Skepper, commercial director for Stagecoach East Midlands, said a plan was being developed to restore the Gainsborough Into Town Service during peak hours, while still making efficiency savings for the company and the county council.
“This is quite complex and will take some time. It is felt that with work starting immediately on this process we can achieve a target date of September of this year for implementation of this revised service pattern.”
In the meantime, Mr Skepper said a temporary off peak service - called the 3 and 3A would be put on following a similar pattern to the old service.
“We can only do this between 9am and 2.30pm and it will have to run with a step entry bus rather than a low floor. But at least this will provide a half hourly service between Morton, Ropery Road and the town centre throughout the day, Monday to Saturday,” said Mr Skepper.
“Connections will be made at Gainsborough Bus Station to provide links between the uphill area of town, the hospital and Vanessa Drive GPs surgeries.”
New timetables will soon be placed on buses in the Gainsborough area. Until then, timetable information is available by calling 0845 6050605 or at www.stagecoachbus.com
Head of transportation at Lincolnshire County Council, Chris Briggs, said: “I am very pleased that Stagecoach has decided to put some services back in.”
“I would remind people that our award winning CallConnect service, which is wheelchair accessible, is also available to provide even more public transport choice.”
Book a CallConnect bus by phone on 0845 2343344, online at www.lincsinterconnect.com or text CallConnect to 82727.