CALLS are being made for further funding to keep a popular mini-bus service on the road.

Last year two evening bus services linking West Linton and Carlops with Edinburgh and Dumfries - the 101 and 102 services - were axed after Scottish Borders Council withdrew £100,000 funding.

The move led to strong protests from villagers.

West Linton Community Council secured enough Quality of Life funding from the local authority to pay for a replacement minibus evening service between Penicuik and Dolphinton.

And more than 600 residents along the route at Nine Mile Burn, Carlops, West Linton and Dolphinton, signed up for the service.

But next month the initial funding will dry up.

Graham Tulloch, chair of West Linton Community Council, told us: “Having a late evening bus is very important to many residents for many reasons.

"You only have to see the totally unsustainable increase in traffic congestion backing up from the Edinburgh bypass to The Bush and beyond in the morning to see the need for a good bus service.

"The better the bus service, the more it will be used.

"No one is going to get the bus to Edinburgh if they can’t get back in the evening - not everyone works nine-to-five – and also not everyone can drive or has a car and they mustn’t be excluded."

The evening mini bus, which connects with the Edinburgh bus to and from Penicuik, has been running successfully since December.

Members of the community council are now appealing to Scottish Borders Council to provide additional funding.

Mr Tulloch added: "We have had hundreds of people using the mini bus already and this will increase as people hear about and get used to using the service.

"We have had emails from residents saying how the service has improved their mental health and well being because they can travel independently and also from residents who travel to work in Edinburgh”

“The cost of the mini bus is only a fraction of the savings Scottish Borders Council made by reducing the service bus funding.

"If Scottish Borders Council are serious about making savings while still improving the environment and quality of life in the Borders they will support this trial initiative – we shall see."

Although the local authority has not been directly involved in the replacement mini bus service, they are welcoming any approaches for funding.

A spokesman said: "This is a community-led project and there is scope for them to apply for council funding streams."