A COMMUNITY bus service for pupils formed in the wake of brutal district council cuts has had its maiden voyage.
The Bucklebury Community Bus has been set up to transport pupils between Upper Bucklebury and Kennet School, Thatcham.
The new home-to-school transport was launched after West Berkshire Council withdrew its funding for a subsidised service after the authority had to make £17.5m of cuts this year.
Other schools affected were Chieveley, Shefford and Aldermaston primary schools and The Willink School, Burghfield Common.
The service uses a 17-seat minibus and runs from All Saint’s Church to The Old Bluecoat School during morning and afternoon school runs.
So far 36 children have secured a place on the school run, with a further nine places available.
The bus has been funded by private donations and contributions from local church congregations and facilitated by Bucklebury Parochial Church Council, Bucklebury Parish Council and Friends of Bucklebury School.
The chairman of the trustees of Bucklebury Community Bus, Steve Manson, said: “We are enormously grateful to those within Bucklebury who have made generous donations to enable the bus to be purchased.
“The service will be a relief to many families within the village who would otherwise have no means of getting their children to and from Kennet School.”
Concerns over pupil safety were also raised, with the schoolchildren left facing the prospect of walking down narrow, winding lanes with no lighting or pathways.
It is planned that the community drive won’t stop with pupils, however, and the charity is looking to expand the service to other groups. The 101 Newbury and District Buses service has been reduced because of the council’s cuts, which Mr Manson said would leave elderly villagers with limited access to public transport.