Crewkerne residents say their Christmas has been saved as a popular bus route is being temporarily spared the axe.
Bus users who buy their festive presents at Dorchester Christmas market were heartbroken when they heard that the service which takes them there was being pulled at the end of November.
Now the 202 linking Chard to Crewkerne and Dorchester has been reprieved until Christmas thanks to the efforts of local campaigners – including regular user, Sylvia Trollope, aged 88.
Mrs Trollope and other regulars were greeted by Somerset County councillor for Crewkerne, John Dyke, as they caught the bus last Wednesday.
Mr Dyke said: “The news about the continuation of the 202 service until Christmas, and thereafter as a monthly paid excursion, was well received by the users of the service.
“I joined the bus as it was about to leave Crewkerne for what would have been its last trip and explained the position.
“The fact that I received a round of applause was indicative, I think, of the continuing support for the service in future.
“In the circumstances, it is probably as good a result as could have been achieved.”
Mrs Trollope said: “A lot of people’s Christmases have been rescued now the service will stay long enough for us to get to the Dorchester market. Everyone was so upset about the prospect of this service going, we are very happy it is safe for the future.
“Many of us said we would be happy to pay to keep it.”
The 202 route was due to be axed by South West Coaches last Wednesday, due to declining revenues for the company.
The operator previously rescued the route after it was dropped by First Avon and Somerset in November 2009.
Lewis Trahar, service manager for the operator, said: “South West Coaches is pleased to confirm that service 202 will continue as a bus service until Christmas following support being agreed with Somerset County Council.
“After Christmas we are pleased to confirm that, following over 400 responses to our survey, we will be operating some replacement journeys as excursions on a monthly frequency.
“A further statement will be made to confirm which routes will be operated in this manner.
“We would like to thank all our passengers and the public for their continued support.”
Campaigners joined forces with a Government minister to urge Somerset and Dorset County Councils to rescue the service and received backing from West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin as the battle to save the service raged on.
Sue Osborne, South Somerset District Councillor for the Windwhistle ward, along with Crewkerne campaigner Marcus Barrett, called on both county councils to work with South West Coaches for a solution.