MOREBUS is stepping in to save two routes to Bournemouth hospital which are to be axed by its rival Yellow Buses.

Almost 1,200 people had signed an online petition protesting at the decision to end the R4 and R5 services from April 8.

The buses link Kinson, East Howe and West Howe with the hospital and Castlepoint.

Yellow Buses had said the routes were unprofitable, with fewer than 200 passengers a day, although it planned to keep an early morning service for NHS workers.

Duane Farr, who started the petition to keep, said: “It’s great to hear the residents of Kinson and West Howe supporting the petition have been listened to and a solution has been found.”

Morebus managing director Andrew Wickham said: “The withdrawal of these two routes by another local operator has concerned those who live and work in the town, and we want to do something about that.

“Our team has worked swiftly to ensure our buses will cover the existing routes in their entirety – securing uninterrupted services for passengers here.

“This means vital links to Castlepoint and the hospital for the communities of West Howe, East Howe and Kinson will be saved.

“We know that many schoolchildren also depend on the routes, and we’ll be making sure they can still get to school by bus.

“Our aim is to minimise the impact on bus users and we welcome the opportunity to prove our commitment to providing comprehensive bus operations across the area.

“The R4 and R5 will operate to their current timetables until late May, when we will incorporate the R4 and R5 routes into our own services as part of our main summer timetable revisions.”

From May 27, the R4 and R5 will become part of the Morebus number 14 route, which currently runs between Poole and Kinson via West Howe.

Morebus says the extension of the 14 route will preserve all existing links except those from the Columbia Road and Anstey Road areas.

The axing of the Yellow Buses route was part of a wide-ranging review of the network.