North Ayrshire bus passengers can breathe a sigh of relief after Shuttle Buses announced it will replace the soon-to-be-axed X11 service.

Last month, the Herald reported that Stagecoach was to axe its X11 and X44 services as of Sunday, December 1.

Concerns over the cancellations were voiced by members of the community and councillors.

But now Shuttle Buses is to introduce a new service for the route. The new route – also called the X11 – will run for a minimum of six months to determine whether there are enough passengers to make it viable.

David Granger, managing director, said: “Locals with long memories will recall that Shuttle Buses first started a direct service from these areas of the Three Towns into Irvine many years ago, and we are delighted to be returning to the route once more.

“I hope that our improved, hourly timetable added to the route serving a range of new shopping destinations in Irvine will encourage more people to travel. We have already had a very positive response to our plans, and I hope that, when we review the service in six months’ time, it is carrying enough passengers to continue for the long term.”

As of Monday, December 2, the new route will start at Chapelhill Mount in Ardrossan, following the existing Stagecoach route along Stanley Road. It will continue into Saltcoats via Burns Avenue, Dalry Road and High Road, then along Stevenston High Road.

After leaving Morrisons, the new X11 will take the A78 Kilwinning Bypass direct to Irvine, where the route will serve Ayrshire Central Hospital before running via Marress Road to Riverway Retail Park (stopping at Primark/Asda, Irvine Station and Tesco) and continuing onto Irvine Cross.

An improved timetable is on offer, with buses leaving Ardrossan at 8.10am (not Saturdays), 9.10am and then every hour until 4.10pm. Return journeys will leave Riverway at 8.40am (not Saturdays), 9.40am and then every hour until 4.40pm and Irvine Cross five minutes after these times. There will be no Sunday service.

As a special introductory offer to encourage passengers to try out the new service, Shuttle Buses will operate the X11 free of charge from December 2-10, after which competitive fares will apply including cheap Day Returns and 10-journey tickets. Travel Card holders travel free of charge.