VILLAGERS are calling for better transport links to major towns and facilities after being left isolated by the loss of a bus service.

About a year ago, a bus route that ran through Bishopton, to the north-west of Stockton, was withdrawn after the company behind it decided there was not enough demand to justify the service.

The privately owned Stagecarriage company was once supported with council subsidies but the withdrawal of that funding in recent years left owners with difficult decisions to make, according to spokesman Scott Cooper.

The company’s 84 service, which stopped in Bishopton on the way to Stockton, was replaced with an hourly X8 service that runs six days a week but no longer passes through the village.

The only bus that now stops in Bishopton is a Scarlet Band service that takes passengers to Darlington every Monday.

Resident Sue Gardener said the lack of adequate public transport is being starkly felt by those in Bishopton and that villagers relying on buses to travel have been effectively cut off from some essential services, including GPs, shops and hospitals.

She said she does not blame Stagecarriage for withdrawing its service but called for more to be done to ensure villagers can access adequate public transport.

With Christmas on the horizon, Ms Gardener said the problem has become particularly pronounced.

She said: “Nobody is finding it easy to do their Christmas shopping – there’s only one bus to Darlington left before Christmas.

“We don’t necessarily need a service every day but it would be good to have one a couple of times a week going to Middlesbrough or Stockton.

“It’s getting really hard for people who have to rely on public transport to get out and about.

“The nearest doctors’ surgery is miles away and busy roads mean it’s not easy to walk anywhere, especially if you have children.

“We’d be happy to pay extra to have another service.”

She added: “There’s a push to encourage rural living and that’s all well and good but you need a proper infrastructure to go with it. Why would young families move to a village if there’s no amenities for them?”

Mr Cooper said the new X8 service had proved very successful and said it was unfortunate that the number of people using the bus in Bishopton “did not justify the service being diverted through the village. We’re a private company and cannot afford for buses to run that do not make money. We cannot run services at a loss.”