PASSENGERS have been given a lifeline after a new operator agreed to take over an axed North Cornwall bus service.
Western Greyhound is to stop running its 561 service, which runs between Bodmin, Wadebridge and Camelford, from next month – but another operator, Webber Coaches, will step in to serve the area with its own 561 service.
Passengers living in the villages of St Tudy, St Mabyn and St Breward feared being cut off from the bigger towns following Western Greyhound's announcement, and St Tudy parish council chairman Brian Lamerton said the news would delight villagers.
"It's a reprieve; we heard of a rumour going round that a new operator would take it on but now it's been confirmed it's ideal," Mr Lamerton said.
"It'll be a great boost to the village of St Tudy as a lot of people feared being cut off, especially those who don't drive."
Webber Coaches boss Keith Webber said the company was only too pleased to replace the cancelled service.
"We happened to be offered this route and we're delighted to take it on," Mr Webber said.
"We tender for various routes, and some you win and some you don't. We're happy to be able to extend our reliable service to these villages and towns and feel the people will once again have a service that's adequate for their needs."
Western Greyhound's 561 service will run for the last time on November 3, with Webber Coaches taking over the following day.
Like the current service, the new 561 will run Monday to Saturday but will operate only from 9.15am until 5pm, instead of the current 7.40am-to-6.15pm Western Greyhound service.
Western Greyhound made the decision to abandon the route after Cornwall Council, which offers a subsidy to operators, found itself having to make cutbacks to save around £500,000 from its bus budget this year.
Mr Webber said although taking on the service was a risk, he was willing to give it a shot.
"It's a risk you take but we'll see if it's profitable in three or four months and go from there," he said.
Mr Lamerton said he hoped the service would be permanent but wasn't holding his breath.
"It'll be ideal if they can carry it on, but these days you never know if it'll continue so we'll have to see – but for now it's brilliant news," he said.