TWO vital bus services have been rescued just days after plans to axe them were revealed.

Last week, First Bus announced it would be withdrawing a number of services from April 8, including the 571/572 Bolton to Great Lever circular and the 575 between Bolton and Horwich.

The announcement prompted outrage from passengers, with one saying she was ‘appalled, dismayed, disgusted, but not surprised’ at the news.

But both routes are now set to be saved, with Diamond Bus and Blackrod-based Vision Bus stepping in to take over their operation.

Diamond operations manager Mark Butler says the firm will operate the same timetable as First on the 575, while the two companies will share the 571/572 circular route — running four services every hour in both directions.

Mr Butler said: "We operate along the same corridor as the 575 at the moment, so it makes sense for us to step in there.

"People have been asking us to do it for a long time and this will enhance our performance and presence in Bolton.

"As far as the passengers are concerned, it will be business as usual from April 9."

Vision Bus operations manager Michael Smith has pledged to run a more reliable and cheaper service for customers.

Founded in 2008, Vision Bus already runs a number of services in Bolton, including the 500, 525, 527, 535 and 537.

Mr Smith says he read about the cancellation of the 571/72 in the Bolton News and decided to step in.

He added: “We have done this before with other services. If we can see that something is not running as it should we try and improve it.

“Initially the frequency will change to every half an hour, but we will ensure that these services will once again become the dependable and reliable bus services people deserve and expect.

“We are looking forward to April 9 to show the residents of Great Lever how reliable and friendly a bus service can be.”

Cllr David Chadwick, Bolton Council's cabinet member for transport, said: "This is brilliant news.

"When the withdrawals were announced last week, we started chasing up people about it straight away.

"The Great Lever councillors — Mohammed Ayub, Mohammed Iqbal, and Madeline Murray — organised a petition.

"To have these services being saved and even improved is excellent."