FRUSTRATED bus users aired their concerns after a vital route was cut from the timetable due to cost pressures.

A public meeting was held at The Oakwood Centre in Woodley on Saturday after Reading Buses scrapped the 'Nineteens' service, despite enhanced financial support from Wokingham Borough Council (WBC).

Councillors proposed to move forward with an hourly service for the next 12 months on the 19a/c routes to allow for a new contract to be established.

The suggestion will be reviewed as part of the council's consultation process, which ended on November 3.

Martijn Gilbert, CEO of Reading Buses, described the Nineteens as a 'loss-making' exercise for the company, while campaigners criticised the 12 route, stating that it was not 'fit for purpose'.

Matt Rodda MP and Councillor Andy Croy were among the vocal political figures at the meeting, while there were no representatives from WBC.

Cllr Croy said: “The meeting was well attended with about 125 residents from the Woodley and Whitegates area attending to make sure their voices were heard.

"There was a clear consensus that the 12 service was not fit for purpose and that any new service should include timely and reliable access to the Royal Berkshire Hospital."

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

Mr Gilbert was unable to attend the meeting, but prepared a formal response.

He said: "Reading Buses is unable to sustain a loss-making position on a contract beyond its committed term.

"We have not asked for an increase in the contract price to make a profit during this period, only to cover our costs.

“We continue to operate our main road orange 13/14 services from Woodley and Claret 21 from Lower Earley on a commercial basis without any funding."

Mr Rodda added: “Buses are a vital public service, which can be a lifeline to elderly and disabled residents.

"I am working with residents, community groups and all parties along with the bus company to try and protect these services.”