A surprise new bus service has hit the road in Leyland – run by a cab company.
The warmly-welcomed Leyland Circular was launched by Avacab at the end of last month.
But it is from this week – with the Christmas and New Year festivities over and folk back to work – that it is expected to come into its own.
The 90-day trial service will provide much-needed access to parts of the town left without buses when Stagecoach modified routes it took over from Fishwicks.
Historic Leyland-based transport firm John Fishwicks and Sons, which operated from Tuer Street, went out of business in October 2015.
Leyland councillors joined together to celebrate the launch of the new service.
South Ribble councillor Jane Bell, who represents Seven Stars ward, said: “I rang Avacab to see if they might be able to think of a solution to the problems some our residents were facing in accessing public transport.
“I never thought it would lead to the launch of a new bus service.
“I’ll certainly be a regular user.”
Lancashire County councillor Matthew Tomlinson, who represents Leyland Central Division, said: “ It’s really important that people support this service as it’s currently a trial to test the market.
“Those responsible for getting it this far deserve every credit.
“I hope it’ll be a huge success.”
Pensioner Sandra Clayton, of Wrights Fold, Leyland, has already used the bus, which started running on December 29, and described it as a “godsend”.
Sandra, 72, organised a petition in an effort to reinstate the 119 service about a year ago after finding people were having difficulty getting to places such as shops and GP surgeries.
She said: “I think it’s good. I used one on the day it started. They’re very, very nice drivers, very courteous and always on time and the buses are so clean. I hope it does work because it’s a godsend. I’m just hoping this one takes off.”
The bus will cover areas such as Worden Park, Runshaw College, Langdale Road, Golden Hill and School Lane.
Susan said losing a bus service was a real blow to people.
“A lot of people, including myself, were down and housebound and lonely, I think,” she said.
“I’m just hoping it’s given them a bit of encouragement.”
The new 30-seater buses are ‘disabled and pram-user friendly’.
Kevin Yates, Avacab transport manager, said the call for the bus came out of the blue, but after some research the company decided to give it a trial.
He said: “Six months ago Jane approached the company and asked if it was something we’d be able to do.
“We had calls from residents dotted about Leyland asking if it was something we’d look at.
“It started on December 29. It’s a 40-minute service, a circular around Leyland from 6.30 in a morning until 7 at night, Monday to Saturday.
“It’s all funded through the Avacab group.
“We’re not trying to compete with anybody.
“It’s trial and error.
“If it’s not used, we won’t be able to continue.”