BLACKBURN with Darwen Council has confirmed the details of the restored direct bus service from Darwen to the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

The number 33 route was controversially dropped by operator Moving People in June 2018 because only three people a journey used it.

Blackburn with Darwen Council, which refused to subsidise the service despite a petition from Darwen residents, is to use new government cash to reinstate it.

The extra £56,788 grant for 2020/21 from the Department for Transport’s Supported Bus Service Fund will also pay for a new peak-time service from Blackburn town centre to the Whitebirk industrial estate and improve off-peak services between Edgworth and Darwen.

Cllr Phil Riley, borough council highways boss, approved the financial arrangements and routes for the new and restored services on Friday.

The replacement for the 33 service will run via Waterside, Eccleshill, Chapels, Lower Darwen and the North Road/Audley Range area to the hospital.

The Blackburn town centre–Whitebirk industrial estate workers’ service will operate Monday to Friday in partnership with local businesses.

The Edgworth and Darwen buses will build on the TA01 and TA02 services operated by Travel Assist.

He said: "The council’s transport team has identified a number of gaps in the local bus market following in depth consultation with elected members, local residents and service users.

"The majority of the Council’s 2020/21 funding allocation will be directed at restoring the direct link from Darwen to Royal Blackburn Hospital.

"Ten additional trips will be provided between Darwen and Blackburn each day Monday to Friday.

"The remainder will be directed at 'supporting new services or extensions to current services with the establishment of a peak time Blackburn Town Centre to Whitebirk Industrial Estate and Sunnybower 'workers' service operating Monday to Friday and strengthened off-peak rural links between Edgworth and Darwen.

"Additional weekday trips will be provided between Darwen and Edgworth with extensions to Waterside and Eccleshill

"The council have stressed the need for the Department for Transport the need to provide ongoing financial support for longer than one year to ensure the longevity of these services, which are unlikely to become fully commercial in the short term."