A POPULAR bus service which was abandoned to the frustration of residents is set to return after mounting public pressure.

The cherished 19a/c routes were discontinued last year and replaced by the Number 12 service, sparking fury among commuters and elderly passengers from Woodley and Earley.

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) increased the subsidy for the service, but Reading Buses decided to pull the routes after revealing they were not financially viable.

The new service will be run by Reading Buses - part of the local authority - and reflect the old 19a/c routes, with hourly buses in each direction.

Matt Rodda, MP for Reading East, said: "I am glad that the council is finally listening to people after all this time. I will be taking a closer look at the timetable, but initially I would say this is good news.

"People who do not have cars or who are disabled really do rely on these services to get them to the Royal Berkshire Hospital and they never wanted to lose these buses.

"Cuts are being made to buses across the country and Reading is one of only three places where bus usage is increasing.

"WBC underestimated the level of funding required and I am pleased that the decision has paid tribute to the hours of campaigning that were done."

Campaigners and politicians organised regular meetings with concerned residents, who felt the new service was not fit for purpose.

Reading Buses is wholly-owned by Reading Borough Council and Wokingham councillors increased the old subsidy of £100,000 by another £44,500 before the Nineteens were scrapped.

Plans to reinstate the service were revealed in January, when WBC started the tendering exercise.

Councillor Anthony Pollock, interim executive member for highways and transport, added: “We have made more funding available for the service and have used a creative approach to secure a cost effective solution for our communities.

“We thank everyone who provided feedback, as well as Woodley and Earley Town Council, which allowed us to work with the winning tender to tailor this service to local needs.”