A “LIFELINE” bus service that links Wigan pensioners with shops and medical services has been saved.
Older residents without transport faced becoming prisoners in their own homes after the shock announcement that bus company which provided the service through the Brocstedes area into the centre of Ashton had gone bust and stopped trading.
The Number 157 route –which originates in Rainford – was now due to finish altogether on April 18.
But after local councillor, Gary Wilkes sounded concerns about the profound social effect its withdrawal would have on this old established community, it has been confirmed that it has been saved.
National operator Stagecoach stepped in to maintain the service on a temporary basis after the crash of Aintree-based Ace Travel, whose operation of the service was financially subsidised by Merserytravel in an acknowledgement of its social importance. Now it has been comfirmed that Cumfy Bus, which operates from Southport, will continue the service and with the existing time table.
Sixty jobs were lost in February when Liverpool based Ace Travel went out of business after being unable to pay a VAT demand.
The company provided around 20 routes for transport authority Merseytravel – including the Rainford / Ashton route.
Stagecoach, which has run the service since the crash of Ace Travel, had no one available to comment on why it had declined to take on the contract after deadline.
Coun Wilkes said that the decision to save the bus service was a “victory for common sense.”
He had been receiving complaints from the families of worried pensioners who feared the effects on the quality of life if the cut had been allowed to go through.
Coun Wilkes said: “I was flabbergasted when I heard it was under threat, but these are the type of situations we are getting because the bus services have been privatised and de-regulated.
“The old people on Brocstedes estate absolutely depend on this service to get into Bryn to do their shopping or collect their prescriptions and it would have been a total disaster to them to have lost it.
“I am delighted that we have seen sense and that Cumfy Bus have agreed to take on the contract which will be such a huge relief to those without transport of their own.
“It is no exaggeration to say that if the No 157 bus service had been allowed to go, many would have become completely reliant on relatives to run them around and they would have lost the independence that is so important to them.
“Those without relatives nearby would quickly have become prisoners in their own homes.
“The who question of ther service continuing has been up in the air since Ace Travel went into liquidation and it is such a relief for everybody now that it has been saved.