AN UNDER-THREAT bus service which would have left residents on the edge of the city "stranded" will be free at weekends next month after a deal was struck by a councillor.

The weekend 37 bus, which runs between Worcester and Northwick via Ombersley Road, was reinstated in late November last year after local councillor Andy Stafford stepped in to save the Saturday service.

The bus will now be free to use every Saturday in February which Cllr Stafford hopes will help secure the long-term future of the service and offer a "genuine and green" alternative to driving into the city centre.

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Cllr Stafford said: "The 37 bus service is a lifeline for residents in Claines, with many dependent upon it. After saving the Saturday 37 Bus service in November last year it was clear that more action was needed to encourage people to use the service to help secure its future for the long term.

"There are five Saturdays this February so there are five great opportunities for those that don’t usually consider using the bus to give it a go for free.

"I hope that people will choose to leave their car at home, go green, and make taking the bus a regular habit. This will help secure the long-term future of the 37 bus and they will be supporting their neighbours that depend upon the bus service.

"I’m also delighted to announce that extra buses have been added to the Monday to Friday 37 bus service. There will now be a full service at times when people need to get to and from the city for work, making the bus a genuine alternative to the car.

"We have come a long way since the autumn when the Saturday service was withdrawn and the whole service was under threat."

Cllr Stafford used his Worcestershire County Council divisional fund, which councillors can use to fund and support local initiatives, to support the free February weekend bus.

First Bus said it planned to scrap the service in October because of falling passenger numbers and increased costs.

Extra buses will also run during the week, for at the least the next two years, due to money from housing developer Bellway tied to the new Cherry Orchard plan at Gwillam's Farm in Bevere near Worcester.

Buses will leave earlier at 8.10am from Green Lane off Ombersley Road in Bevere and leave Crowngate Bus Station in the city centre later at 6.30pm and 7.15pm.