A PLEA has been made in a bid to secure a bus service for Hampshire pupils.

As previously reported, Xelabus has made the decision to stop its 503 Thornden School morning service after February half-term.

The service is used by Valley Park students every day.

The bus company said the afternoon school service will continue but firm managing director Gareth Blair had previously told the Advertiser that the number of pupils using the morning service “struggles to reach double digits”.

Parents and civic chiefs said the numbers dropped due to the bus being slightly late in the morning but the bus company said they were unable to operate the service to due operational reasons.

Now Alan Dowden, borough councillor for Valley Park ward, is appealing for local businesses and organisations to come forward and help provide a bus to ensure the service continues.

Parents said they were disappointed to hear that the service had been withdrawn.

Leigh Atkinson, whose daughter and son have been using the 503 bus for the last seven years, said: “It gives children a sense of independence and, of course, it reduces traffic on the road. I just don’t want the bus to disappear, it would be a great shame.”

The 46-year-old bank director from Valley Park said that increasing the bus fees, along with a grant from the parish council could help save the service.

But Councillor Dowden said due to the cuts neither the county council nor the parish council can fully fund the service, but they can help with a financial contribution.

“It’s about finding something that is cheap enough for us to afford. The last option is to hope other organisations will come forward. They only have to pick them up in about three different spots”, he added.

Cllr Dowden said between 40 to 50 children would use the service in the morning.

He claims if there will not be any other option to guarantee a bus service from Valley Park to Thornden School, many children will have to walk about three miles to go to school or will have to be driven to school.

“Three miles is quite a long walk particularly in inclement weather. What I am concerned about is the fact that all these extra cars going into school is causing even more air pollution and it is always causing the congestion.

“Why should we be reducing public transport?” he said.