310 bus in Ormskirk

Better bus links begin today in West Lancs

People in West Lancashire will have better options to travel by bus thanks to new links launched today.

The new routes being introduced by Lancashire County Council will incorporate two existing services operating in the Skelmersdale area, and extend them to Ormskirk, Crawford and Rainford.

This will create more direct links so that fewer people need to change buses to visit Ormskirk and Wrightington hospitals, or to reach Ormskirk from many parts of Skelmersdale and communities to the east of Skelmersdale.

The new services have been made possible thanks to additional 'BSIP plus' funding received from HM Government in support of Lancashire's £34.1m Bus Service Improvement Plan, and will be operated by Preston Bus Ltd in partnership with Lancashire County Council.

From Monday 27 November existing services 312 and 313 will be replaced by Service 311 and Service 312.

Service 311 will operate between Ormskirk and Wrightington Hospital via Ormskirk Hospital, Lathom, Ashurst, Birch Green, Skelmersdale, Tanhouse, Upholland and Appley Bridge.

Service 312 will operate between Ormskirk and Rainford via Burscough, Newburgh, Parbold, Ashurst, Birch Green, Skelmersdale, Upholland and Crawford.

Both routes will generally run hourly during the daytime from Monday to Saturday and in combination will maintain the existing half hourly frequency through Ashurst and Birch Green.

As well as better serving the hospitals, the new routes will mean more frequent services between Ormskirk and Burscough, and the opportunity for people to reach St Helens via onward services from Rainford.

The new Service 312 will also serve Rainford High Academy, replacing the county council's dedicated school service 730 with a regular service.

County Councillor Scott Smith, Lancashire County Council lead member for highways and active travel, said: "Thanks to the funding we've received from government for our Bus Service Improvement Plan we're making some big improvements to bus services in Lancashire.

"In West Lancashire it means that we can meet demand for links to communities which aren't currently served by public transport, and improve the frequency of existing services so that more people will find taking the bus a convenient option.

"We'll be working closely with operators to build passenger numbers with the aim of making these services commercially sustainable over the long term, and I'd encourage everyone to support them."

Roads Minister Guy Opperman said: "People up and down the country deserve a modern, reliable, and affordable public transport system. That is why we have provided Lancashire County Council with over £34 million to boost its bus services.

"Supporting the council with introducing the new 311 and 312 services is fantastic for local residents, who will now be able to get around Skelmersdale, Ormskirk, Crawford and Rainford more easily."