COUNTY Hall chiefs are taking steps to save a ‘lifeline’ bus service through Chorley and Leyland.

Thousands of commuters and passengers have been campaigning against the plans by Stagecoach to remove the 113 service in January.

However, Lancashire County Council have announced they are taking emergency measures to step in and save it.

The service stretches from Wigan to Preston and covers a number of rural and residential areas throughout Chorley and South Ribble.

The Leader of the Council Geoff Driver and the Cabinet Member Cllr Keith Iddon today signed-off an urgent decision to provide the necessary financial support to run the service deemed as ‘not commercially viable’ by Stagecoach.

The decision means that the 113 service will become one of a number of bus routes in Lancashire that form part of a network the Council subsidises to keep them operating as they do not raise enough revenue to be operated on a commercial basis.

Cllr Andrew Snowden, who helped in the project, said, “We have been working tirelessly with officers, residents, partners and elected representatives since Stagecoach arrived at their decision to withdraw the service.

“My aim throughout this has to ensure that we don’t have a knee-jerk reaction but that we we found a long-term sustainable solution to keep the 113 bus route running.

“It is a well-used service that covers a large area and whilst Stagecoach’s numbers indicate that it doesn’t make a profit and isn’t commercially viable, my concern is with the people who depend on it to get to work and appointments, to see relatives and to go shopping”.

He added: “Luckily the Conservatives invested an extra £1million into public transport when we won control of the Council last year – increasing the budget by 50 per cent. “This means that we have a much bigger pot of resources to deploy.

“Both Cllr Keith Iddon and I saw that this service had to be a priority as soon as we received the news from Stagecoach, as the per passenger subsidy will be relatively low and it will have such a large impact for the investment. We have therefore been reviewing our public transport budget to prioritise this service”.

The Council is already getting quotes from bus operators to run the service on a tendered basis for the council, which would be in its current full route and this urgent decision means that the budget needed to keep it running is now available.

We believe there will be no disruption in the continuity of the service, as the new funding should kick in on the same day the commercial service is withdrawn meaning that the 113 passengers will not suffer any gap in coverage.

Cllr Snowden added: “I’d like to thank everyone who has contacted me directly to offer support and advice in a constructive and helpful way. There have been some who have tried to score political points out of this – but we have shown the Conservatives’ commitment to public transport here in Lancashire.

“I’d especially like thank Seema Kennedy MP for her support and constructive insight as we worked behind the scenes to tackle this situation.”