A PETITION has been launched to save a vital bus service which provides a lifeline for passengers along the backbone of Swindon.

Rita Hawkins, of Williams Street, has collected more than 100 signatures in a bid to secure the future of the number 22 which covers Fleming Way, Old Town, Okus and Swindon town centre.

Fears the bus could be cut were raised after a number of people heard from official sources that the bus would soon be stopped.

The hourly service is provided by Thamesdown Transport but subsided by Swindon Council. The authority has to make savings of around £190,000 from its local bus services budget by 2014/15.

Rita, who walks with the aid of a stick, said she has no other way of getting to the shops in the centre of town.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful,” said the 74-year-old.

“We are not able to walk into town. We need the bus, there are lots of elderly people and disabled people who rely on it.

“The council should do something about it. Penhill and other areas have a bus running every 10 minutes – we get one an hour and they are taking it away.”

She is now calling on the council to steer cash towards the number 22 to save it from cuts.

“We do need this bus, it’s a lifeline,” said Rita. “To have a bus running once an hour is better than not having one at all.

“For people living here it is one of the most important services. We go to town for all sorts of things and would really struggle without it.”

She said the majority of the elderly people using the service would be happy to pay a 50p charge or half the normal cost if it meant keeping the route.

A Swindon Council spokesman said: “Service 22, like many routes, is currently being reviewed as part of the council’s bus strategy.

“No decisions have been made regarding any of the bus services, as the strategy has not been finalised.”

Thamesdown Transport announced a number of changes to its timetable which will come into effect from September 2.

For information on the changes visit www.thamesdownbus.com. Timetable leaflets are available from the Thamesdown Travel Shop in Fleming Way as well.