THREE weeks of community action across Tweeddale has helped save a vital bus service until March next year.

The 101/102 route, which will continue to be operated by Stagecoach, connects Dumfries to Edinburgh via Moffat, Biggar and West Linton.

At a crunch meeting on Tuesday between SWestrans, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and Strathclyde Partnership Transport (SPT), a financial package was agreed.

“This couldn’t have happened without everybody pulling together,” said West Linton’s lead protestor, Ian Reid.

“People of all ages, communities right along the route, our elected representatives and the councils have all pulled together.

“They have confirmed that a bus service, such as the 101/102, isn’t a luxury, it’s not an add-on extra, it is an absolute vital necessity and an integral part of community life.”

When it was announced in early July that the service would cease to run from August 13, more than 130 protestors gathered at the bus stop on the A702 at West Linton to meet the 6.31pm service from Edinburgh.

Mr Reid continued: “The local authorities involved, SBC, Strathclyde, South Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway have found the wherewithal and funding to continue the service, beyond the middle of August, to the end of March next year.

“That is a godsend for the many, many people who absolutely depend on this lifeline service.”

Last week the protestors set up a Twitter account @Saveourbusnow to allow those affected by the threatened termination to post their stories.

But the battle is not over.

Mr Reid said: “The work begins now, we don’t want to rest on our laurels.

“We move on to look at how can we have a service that’s better, more sustainable and more used.

“Using the same themes from the last three weeks, listening to people and being led by the communities. It will be bottom up, rather than top down.

“We hope by Christmas we are in a place to know what the future of this bus service will be beyond the end of March.

Mr Reid added: “Keep talking – not everyone is on social media. Please do let your friends and neighbours know what’s happening and what they can do.

“I’ve no doubt that ‘people power’ will play a huge part in helping us eventually improve our bus service.”

A joint statement was released by SWestrans, Scottish Borders Council, and Strathclyde Partnership Transport.

It said: "SWestrans, Scottish Borders Council and SPT can confirm that they have jointly agreed to an extension of the 101/102 bus service under the current arrangements with the existing operator, Stagecoach West Scotland.

"This extension will preserve the service at least until 31 March 2023 while further discussions continue with transport operators and funding partners to secure the long-term future of bus services to the communities served by the 101/102.

"The three partners have agreed to fund the increased cost of the service for the remainder of financial year 2022/23.

"SWestrans, Scottish Borders Council and SPT would like to thank, individual correspondents, the communities along the route, and elected representatives for their work to raise awareness of the importance of bus services in rural areas.

"Invitations to tender and discussions with communities for longer term solutions for the route will be undertaken during the autumn."