Delighted Auchtertool residents have welcomed the news that the village will continue to have a bus service.
Stagecoach has proposed withdrawing the only remaining service to the village, redirecting it via the more profitable Victoria Hospital.
It claimed that the X26 bus between Leven and Glasgow was only used by an average of 14 passengers a day from Auchtertool, not enough to make it worthwhile continuing, despite conceding that the overall service does make money.
Residents reacted by attending a public consultation held by Stagecoach, and packing the village hall at a public meeting to make their anger and concerns known.
The public consultation finished last week and Stagecoach will give its final decision soon. However this week it emerged that, following discussions with Fife Council, another bus operator is set to step in with an alternative service via Auchtertool, should Stagecoach decide to withdraw the service.
And locals say the new operator could provide a better service than that currently offered to residents.
Tom Lochhead, chairman of Auchtertool Community Council, told the Press: “Everyone will welcome this news.
“The bus is a lifeline for a village with no shops or post office, and not having one would have left many marooned, particularly the predominantly elderly population, many who don’t drive.”
Abbi Gallagher (17), who started a petition against Stagecoach’s plans, which attracted 1500 signatures, added: “The whole village came together to stand up against these plans and most people thought it had already made up its mind that it was going. This is great news and it will put lots of people’s minds at rest, mine included. ”
Councillor Leslie said: “While there has been no official announcement from Stagecoach, discussions I have had with them would indicate that they are not changing their proposal to remove the x26 bus service. In anticipation of this decision a replacement service from an alternative operator has been negotiated and will start when the Stagecoach service is withdrawn.
“It has been a difficult time to put this in place but there has been a willingness to ensure that the village retains a bus service. The support of the whole village has also been very important in reaching a satisfactory resolution.”
Councillor George Kay added: “I am delighted that Fife council has risen to the challenge and extended an existing service to allow access from Auchtertool to either Kirkcaldy or Cowdenbeath. The council takes a fair share of knocks but I am delighted that it has realised its social responsibility and provided this service.”