A much-missed park-and-ride bus service into Reading is to be brought back temporarily, it has been confirmed – but its long-term future depends on how many people use it.

Wokingham Borough Council is to use a government grant to reinstate the Winnersh Triangle Park and Ride service on a trial basis after it was suspended in 2019 and never brought back.

The money will also be used to open a park-and-ride car park at Coppid Beech, which could be used by people catching the Lion4/X4 service on the A329 Reading Road.

Councillor Paul Fishwick – responsible for transport – said he hopes the news “will be welcomed by residents.”

The 500 service used to run every 15 minutes from Winnersh Triangle to Reading town centre. But Reading Buses suspended the service in November 2021 while construction work took place to expand the car park at Winnersh Triangle.

Yet once the car park was completed, Reading Buses said passengers would be too few to be worth putting the service back on, with passenger numbers nationally having fallen due to the pandemic and the rise in home working. And Wokingham Borough Council said it couldn’t afford to subsidise it.

Now councillor Fishwick has agreed to use some of a £800,000 grant it received in October from the government’s department for transport to bring the service back on a trial basis.

READ MORE: Winnersh Triangle park and ride ‘too reliant on OAPs’, said official

The service could re-start in November as a Saturday-only service. The council would then hope to extend this to a Monday to Friday service after April 2024 if passenger numbers and income allow for this.

But it says for this to happen, there has to be a “reasonable chance” that a commercial service could run beyond March 2025, as this is when the government grant funding will stop.

That means that the service could be stopped again if it doesn’t prove to be worthwhile financially.

Councillor Fishwick said: “We've had a lot of queries about the future of these sites - and we can assure people that we've worked hard to find realistic ways of bringing them back into use despite the massive and unforeseen changes brought about by the pandemic.

“Nobody could have predicted the events of 2020, nor the impact they would have on bus travel, especially park and rides.”

He added: “We urge everyone to make the most of these opportunities to leave the car at home - your actions now will decide whether they're still here later.”