A VITAL bus service which provides a “lifeline” for the elderly and disabled has been reinstated.

The axed Malton and Norton Town Bus will restart on Monday – a month since its former operator Stephensons of Easingwold ceased trading, leaving the future of the route in jeopardy.

It will now be run directly by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) on a self-funding basis, after no replacement commercial operator came forward.

Norton county councillor Keane Duncan said it was “fantastic” that the council had been able to step in to save the route.

He said: “It is great news that the town bus will finally be up and running once again. The response to the campaign has been phenomenal, with so many bus users getting in touch to voice their support for the service’s future.

“I had written to nearly every bus operator in Ryedale, York and East Yorkshire with a plea to consider the business case for the route. I had started to give up hope. I genuinely thought that this was the end of the service once and for all.

“On behalf of the hundreds of people who rely on the town bus, I would like to say a massive thank you to the passenger transport team at County Hall.

“They have gone over and above their responsibilities to achieve this solution in difficult circumstances. I know that the people of Malton and Norton are very grateful.”

The 193 Malton and Norton Town Service will run along the same route, but to an abridged timetable, from February 19.

Cllr Duncan said: “There will be some changes. Users should now be looking out for a white minibus with a green countryside mural on the side.

“The new service will run daily between 8.45am and 3pm. The route itself, however, remains unchanged, and concessionary bus passes can still be used.

“The most important thing is that we have at least got some level of service back. It is vital that everyone gets behind it.”

Temporary arrangements for a number of services were put in place when Stephensons suddenly ceased trading in January.

The integrated passenger transport team has now arranged permanent alternative services for school transport and county council-contracted local bus services.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Integrated Passenger Transport, said: “We are now delighted that all of our county council-supported contracted local bus services are permanently up and we have taken over the Malton and Norton town bus service which residents value highly.”