A cancelled park and ride bus service to Reading town centre is set re-launch this Saturday – but its long term future is still uncertain.

The 500 service from Winnersh Triangle will run on Saturdays only, starting from November 25. The service had been suspended until now as Reading Buses said a fall in passenger numbers nationally since the pandemic meant it wasn’t viable to run.

Now Wokingham Borough Council is to use government grant money to fund its return on a trial basis. The trial could be extended to include weekdays in April. But the council says the service could be cancelled again if not enough people are using it by March 2025.

Councillor Paul Fishwick, responsible for transport, said: “The strategy is to use grant funding to kickstart the service at a time when passenger numbers are historically at their highest whilst limiting the cost of resource to give the service the best chance.

“However if the required level of use is not achieved by the time the grant funding runs out the bus service will stop and the current situation will resume.”

READ MORE: Winnersh Triangle park and ride to return, council confirms

The 500 service used to run every 15 minutes from Winnersh Triangle to Reading town centre. But Reading Buses suspended the service in November 2021 while construction work took place to expand the car park at Winnersh Triangle.

Yet once the car park was completed, Reading Buses said passengers would be too few to be worth putting the service back on, with passenger numbers nationally having fallen due to the pandemic and the rise in home working. And Wokingham Borough Council said it couldn’t afford to subsidise it.

Now the council has said it could use some of a £800,000 grant it received from the government’s department for transport to bring the service back on a trial basis. But it warns that the service could be stopped again if it doesn’t prove to be worthwhile financially.

Councillor Alison Swaddle asked what the council would do to advertise the service to make sure as many people as possible use it, at a meeting on Thursday, November 16.

READ MORE: Winnersh Triangle park and ride ‘too reliant on OAPs’, said Reading council official

She also asked if Reading Borough Council would also promote the trial. She said: “I do think that Reading Borough Council needs to be doing more to help.

“Will Wokingham Borough Council be pressing Reading Borough Council and pressing Reading Buses to help subsidise and promote this route as it's certainly benefiting Reading financially as it’s literally driving passengers to shop there?”

Councillor Fishwick said Wokingham Borough Council will promote the service on its website and through social media.

He added: “Reading Borough Council are aware of this and I’ll be pushing them to promote it as well because quite rightly as you say they’ll actually be benefiting through their economy.”