A “VITAL” bus route saved from the axe will resume later this year.

It’s been announced that the 21 bus route, which serves Irvine, has been saved from the chop by Stagecoach and will return to the roads on Sunday, November 15.

Transport body SPT awarded Stagecoach Western Buses with a £180,950 contract for the service to run until July 2018.

The announcement came after SPT agreed to subsidise a number of other bus routes at a cost of over £400,000.

The Times previously reported how the service was set to be withdrawn following claims from Stagecoach that low passenger numbers and cuts to reimbursement for bus operators by the Scottish Government made it difficult to justify retaining the service.

But Transport Scotland insisted this was not the case and were actually increasing the funding by £10million.

A number of Drybridge residents in particular voiced their vehement fury about proposals, arguing that if the service was withdrawn then they would be left with almost no public transport.

They passionately put forward their case at a public meeting in March and were backed by local politicians including MSP Margaret McDougall and Councillors Ruth Maguire, Joe Cullinane and Ian Clarkson.

And their campaigning clearly paid off as the 21 will provide a Monday to Saturday daytime and evening service, as well as a Sunday daytime service between Crosshouse Hospital, Irvine, the Magnum Leisure Centre, Gatehead, Dundonald and Drybridge.

Drybridge resident and community campaigner Ian Wallace was delighted with the announcement.

He hopes this could lead to a more frequent service for residents.

Speaking to the Times this week, Ian said: "It’s good news, I’m pleased to hear that it’s coming back.

“I hope now that they’ve got it back up and running that they increase the frequency.” He added: “With that route if you miss one bus into the town you’re waiting half a day for the next one!

“The service for rural areas as a whole is ridiculous.

“But it’s good news and I hope this means there will be more services.” SPT Vice-Chair Councillor Denis McKenna added: “I’m pleased that in awarding these contracts SPT is enabling people to access vital, socially necessary bus services that ultimately enable them to live their lives.

“From medical appointments, to education, employment and leisure – services like these need to exist so that the travelling public of Strathclyde are adequately provided.” The Times attempted to contact Stagecoach for a response but a spokesperson was not available for comment.