A POPULAR bus service has been saved thanks to the help of a local councillor.

When it was announced by First Bus that it would be removing most of the village buses on the 363 route between Worcester and Upton by September, Councillor Tom Wells said he had to step up to the mark and has successfully fought to put a stop to the plan.

As the six month rescue period reaches its deadline in April, Cllr Wells, who represents Powick on Worcestershire County Council, said despite many believing the bus route could not be saved, passenger numbers have actually increased.

He said: “Despite the dark winter days, passenger numbers have grown and more villagers are using the bus more often.

“So much so, that some of those morning and afternoon buses that were to be cut are now commercially viable.

"As a result, the funding to continue the current service is less than half the amount paid for the rescue plan and the county council has agreed to underwrite any shortfall.

"I am confident that won’t be necessary.

“It is essential that we do all we can to further build passenger numbers to secure its long term survival, but for the foreseeable future the 363 village service is safe.”

First Bus agreed to produce an easy-to-read timetable with accurate times and Cllr Wells handed them out to every household.

It was also agreed a new bus users group would meet with Cllr Wells and the chief executive of First Bus a few times a year to provide direct feedback and discuss how the service could be improved.

A similar meeting was held in Callow End in November last year which was well attended and produced feedback for First Bus to use.

Cllr Wells also negotiated money from the parish councils between Worcester and Upton which the route runs through.

He said the money showed parish councils have recognised the vital role buses play within local communities.