COUNTY council bosses have ruled out reinstating rural bus services - despite increasing pressure from campaigners.

Bus campaigners are calling on Cumbria County Council to give funding towards "vital" bus routes that have been cut or at risk unless new money is found.

It comes as a popular route was cut by the operator, with more services under threat unless new funding is found.

The council stopped subsidising bus services in 2014, saying it could not afford to supply funds for routes across the county.

It has instead used funding from the government to invest in community schemes such as Rural Wheels, an initiative to provide door-to-door taxi transport for people to attend appointments in other towns and villages.

Councillor Keith Little, the county council's cabinet member for transport and highways, said: "We do not have the money to provide subsides for buses.

"We had this conversation in 2014 when our budgets were cuts by the government.

"We have faced cuts under austerity and when there are other department such as highways and children's services that need money, it is just not possible.

"There are other community services that people can use."

Phil Halliwell, the director of the Blueworks transport company, which operates at-risk services between Barrow and Coniston, said the county council's response was "not good enough".

He said: "There needs to be a change in attitude from the county council.

"They need to realise that these bus services are very important for people and the alternatives that they are offering such as Rural Wheels are not good enough.

"We have had more than 90,000 passengers use our services over the past four years - they will not all be able to use these community services.

"We have to get extra funding from them otherwise we will have to start charging people £25 to go between Barrow and Ulverston or we cannot afford to keep running."

Among the bus services recently cut is the #7 bus from Millom and Haverigg to Barrow.

Affected bus users said they faced being "cut off" from other towns, making it more difficult for them to attend doctor's appointments.

The service was partly funded through a school contract and stopped running at the end of the school term, with operator Stagecoach saying running the service was not financially viable.

Replying to a complaint on Twitter from one annoyed bus user, a Stagecoach spokesperson said: "I’m sorry you have lost your service; we never like to remove them.

"We have to cover our costs for a service to survive and without subsidy from the council or additional contracts in place we were unable to keep running this service any longer."