A THREATENED school bus service used by dozens of pupils has been saved.

As previously reported, Xelabus decided to stop its 503 Thornden School morning service after February half-term.

The service is used by Valley Park students every day.

The bus company said the afternoon school service will continue; firm managing director Gareth Blair had previously told the Echo that the number of pupils using the morning service “struggles to reach double digits”.

Parents and civic chiefs said the numbers dropped due to the bus being slightly late in the morning but the bus company said they were unable to operate the service to due operational reasons.

Last week Alan Dowden, borough councillor for Valley Park ward, appealed for local businesses and organisations to come forward and help provide a bus to ensure the service continues.

Now he said that after the articles in the Daily Echo Southampton-based company Bluestar has stepped in and will provide a new service from February 25.

The new service will run in the morning leaving Templars Way Corporate Park at 07.30am and arriving at Thornden School at 07.55am.

The company has also announced that until April 1 the afternoon service will be free.

Bluestar general manager, Richard Tyldsley, said: “After listening to feedback from those travelling in the area, we know how important this service is to youngsters attending Thornden School.

“Our team has worked swiftly to introduce our new school bus service straight after half term – so it will be a seamless switch from Xelabus to Bluestar. We’re delighted to be stepping in.”

Cllr Dowden added: “It will go up in the estate in the north part of Valley Park and pick up children closer to their homes which means they don’t have to walk.

“It couldn’t be better. I’m delighted for the parents and the pupils.

“This will reduce at least 50 unnecessary cars movements.”