Country folk have been urged to “use it or lose it” after their lifeline bus service got a temporary stay of execution.
Campaigners are pleading with residents of rural spots like Inskip, Elswick and Great Eccleston to support a new village-hopper over the next four weeks in the hope it will become permanent.
Rural communities between Blackpool and Preston were left high and dry just before Christmas when the previous service lasted just 11 days. But now a Poulton-based coach firm has stepped in with an offer to test the viability of the route for a month and then make a decision on its future.
“We aren’t a charity,” said Archway Travel boss Michael Archer. “But we will see what happens.” His son Sam Archer added: “People have to to support it, but so far the numbers we’re getting aren’t good.”
Archway, who took over the No 80 service from Classic Bus North West, started running between Blackpool and Preston on Monday. They have told passengers they will trial it for a month and, if it is not financially worthwhile, they will give Lancashire County Council 56 days notice of termination.
Coun Phil James, chairman of the Inskip-with-Sowerby Parish Council, said: “Overall we’re delighted to have a service again, we’re just keeping everything crossed that enough people use it and the operator decides to stick with it.
“It’s not perfect because we have fewer buses than we had under the previous company - But in these times we’re grateful for what we’ve got.
“So far some of the buses in a morning and at tea-time have been full up. But others have not been so well-used. All I can say to people is: ‘Please support the service or it will disappear again.’ It’s a clear case of use it or lose it.”