A BUS service has been defended by passengers, who have called it a “lifeline”, after claims users were losing confidence in it.

Concerns were raised about the ‘village hopper’ which runs between Evesham and Pershore stopping at various locations en route, but passengers happy with the service have hit back.

Marie Johnson-Thomas, of Wick, said: “It is a lifeline. Nothing is too much for the drivers.”

Another regular passenger, Ken Smith, of Little Comberton, said he was saddened by the claims. “I use the bus often and go on different routes,” he said. “I am very happy with the service. The drivers are most considerate and speak to everybody that gets on. I find it a friendly and obliging bus service.”

The service was first introduced by Worcestershire County Council in September 2011 to bring together a number of bus routes and school services that were no longer sustainable.

Pershore mayor, Coun Charles Tucker, also praised the service, run by LMS Travel on behalf of Worcestershire County Council. “Pershore has never had as good a bus service as it has now,” said Coun Tucker. “We really need to promote the use of the hopper and so I am very pleased with the production of some leaflets giving visitors the chance to see where they can go in the area on the bus.”

Chris Holloway, transport planning and review officer for the county council, said: “It’s great news last week’s story has generated such a positive response. The county council has also received many phone calls and letters of support, all commenting on how valuable the service is to them and how helpful the drivers are, disputing the assertion this service is prone to reliability issues.

“Worcestershire County Council has no concerns about the reliability of this service, and we’re acutely aware of how much passengers benefit from it.”