TWO new community bus services will be launched after passengers won a battle to retain popular routes.
The 16 service will run between the west end of Darlington and the town centre, taking in Glebe Road, Laburnum Road and Mayfair Road, with a new 116 bus travelling between Heighington and Newton Aycliffe.
Both buses will start running on January 2 and come as subsidised services, including buses covering Bishopton, Sadberge and Neasham, are stopped on Sunday, December 30 due to government budget subsidy cuts.
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The 16 service, which will use a pink bus, has received Government funding for two years after voluntary group eVOlution successfully applied for a £43,500 grant to run the service with West End Partnership and operator Scarlet Band.
It comes as Arriva said it could not confirm whether its 6a and 6b services would be reinstated in the Glebe Road area of Darlington.
Councillor Gill Cartwright, ward member for Harrowgate Hill, previously held two petitions to save a service in the Glebe Road area, and said she was delighted passengers had been given a transport lifeline.
She said: “This is absolutely fabulous news for residents, and the dawn of a new era of communities and councils working together to maintain vital services.
“This area has a lot of elderly and disabled residents, who do not have cars, so this is a great boost for them because the service is much needed.
“We now need to make this service sustainable and help secure its long-term future by getting passengers to use the bus regularly and I intend to drum up support to get passengers on the buses.”
Councillor David Lyonette, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for transport, said the deal was a triumph for community spirit and hoped it would prove popular with passengers.
He said: “This is a true reflection of what community action can achieve.
“The council has had to make some difficult cuts, but public transport is an integral part of daily life and we will continue to work with communities to develop accessible community transport schemes where they are needed most.”