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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Bulk of Oxfordshire's bus routes to be cut on 20th July!



Over in Oxfordshire, there have been reports that the council are cutting at least 50 services in their area.


AT LEAST 50 bus services in Oxfordshire are to be axed in July and campaigners fear the number could still rise.

Stagecoach today confirmed it would close 11 of its services but said 11 others under-threat would continue unchanged or with different timetables.

The announcement came after Thames Travel – the other biggest rural operator – said it would close 13 of its routes and keep 14 going, with smaller providers set to close a further 28.


Companies said it was due to the loss of subsidies from Oxfordshire County Council, which axed the payments towards 118 services to save £3.7m a year.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said the local authority was working with bus companies to "minimise the impact on local communities".

He added a pilot scheme to use county council buses for a door-to-door service was expected to launch before July 20 and this would compensate for the loss of routes in some areas.

But Hugh Jaeger, chairman of Bus Users Oxford, said although many routes were set to continue in some form he was concerned many would not survive.

He said: "We welcome the efforts of businesses to save as many routes as possible.

"But our fear is, with a number of routes across Oxfordshire, that in nine to 18 months' time they will end up saying they tried their best but are still losing money.

"Many of the services saved in July may not survive."

The county council said today it was still due to hear from Vale Travel and Whites Coaches about another nine services. It is in discussions about a further three that it runs itself in Wallingford and Headington.

Overall about 50 services are due to continue in some form. The 22 and 23, ran by Thames Travel in Bicester, will continue for an unconfirmed period while discussions go on.

But despite the good news for some bus users, those affected by closures yesterday warned it would have "a devastating affect".

In North Oxford, Stagecoach's number 17 runs from Cutteslowe to the city centre, as well as Marston and the John Radcliffe Hospital in the evenings.

After July, it will just run between Jericho and the city centre at off-peak times.

Former engineer Peter Goodgame, of Templar Road, said the change would leave many elderly people in North Oxford stranded in their homes.

Below is a list of routes that are affected.

BUS ROUTES CLOSING IN JULY (ALL OPERATORS INC):

8 Bicester - Silverstone
17 Cutteslowe - Oxford
18 Clanfield - Oxford
24 Bicester (circular)
25 Kidlington/Oxford - Bicester
33 Wychwoods - Burford
37 Bicester - Finmere
42 North Abingdon via college
43 Abingdon - Eaton (Oxon)
43 North Abingdon Town
44 Oxford - Abingdon
46 Drayton St Leonard - Abingdon
63 Oxford - Southmoor
85 Iffley - Cowley
86 Lye Valley - Cowley
89 The Baldons - Cowley
90 Hungerford - Swindon
90 Banbury - Upper Heyford
95 Didcot - Blewbury - Didcot
97 Wallingford - Didcot
104 Oxford - Cuddesdon
125 Chalgrove - Wallingford
126 Wallingford - Wallingford
135 Wallingford - Goring
213 Witney (circular)
214 Witney (circular)
215 Witney (circular)
218 Wytham - Oxford
277 Lighthorne Heath - Banbury
504 Honton - Horley - Banbury
811 Salford (Oxon) - Cheltenham (Gloucs)
17A Oxford Station - JR Hospital (evenings)
17C Oxford Station - JR Hospital (Sundays)
44A Oxford - Abingdon
67A Wantage - Faringdon
67B Wantage - Faringdon
67C Wantage - Faringdon
81A Bicester - Somerton
A1 Didcot - Wantage - Didcot
B1 Easington - Banbury
B7 Grimsbury - Banbury
C1 Charlbury - Wychwoods
K3 Kidlington - Begbroke
M1 Watlington - Reading
T2 Oxford Science Park - Abingdon
T94 Oxford - Bicester
V1 Witney Market Sq (circular)
V14 West Oxfordshire
V24 Upper Oddington - Witney
V24 West Oxfordshire
W10 Woodstock - Kidlington
W11 Woodstock - Bladon
W12 Woodstock - Wootton

Wow, that is a huge number of routes!

Also, let’s have a look the Oxfordshire County Council’s side of the argument:



More than half of subsidised routes will continue with amended service

Around half (47%) of Oxfordshire’s 118 subsidised bus routes will continue to operate commercially, with the majority running an amended service. Fifteen of the seventeen bus operators have confirmed their intentions for routes when subsidies end on July 20 (the last day of school term). Of these 105 routes, 56 are continuing in some form (47%) and 49 routes are discontinuing (42%). Oxfordshire County Council is yet to hear from two operators about the remaining 13 routes (11%).

In February 2016 the council confirmed its decision to end all funding for 118 local bus services which don't carry enough passengers to be run commercially (subsidised buses) in order to save £3.7 million.  This decision does not affect 91 per cent of the bus network which is commercially operated.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council said: “We welcome the positive response that we have had from bus operators.  It is good news that around half of services will continue, with the majority involving an amended service whether that be a revised timetable or changing the frequency of a route.

“The intention is to launch our innovative affordable transport pilot ahead of the termination of bus subsidies on July 20. Further work is currently under way to develop this service which is a completely new way of operating council owned vehicles.  Oxfordshire County Council wants to make more use of existing council vehicles to benefit people of all ages across the county as well as parish councils and community groups who have expressed interest in paying for an affordable, flexible door-to-door transport service.”

Letting people know about these changes

Where services are discontinuing, or will no longer serve a certain bus stop, Oxfordshire County Council will be putting posters up on bus stops to ensure the public are aware.  Bus operators will also be putting information on their buses.  Where the timetable is changing, bus operators will be responsible for updating the public as they normally would.

For more information on changes to services operated by: Stagecoach Oxfordshire, visit: www.stagecoachbus.com/Oxfordchanges ; and for services operated by Thames Travel, visit: http://www.thames-travel.co.uk/news-service-updates

Oxfordshire County Council has been publishing details online as soon as bus operators confirm their intentions for the services they run.  To view updates on all subsidised bus services, visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/subsidisedbuses
Use of public buses for home to school transport

The council has reviewed all home to school travel arrangements and identified five routes, involving approximately 290 students overall, where it is more economical for the council to pay for schoolchildren to use season tickets on an existing public bus route (rather than hiring a coach).  Operators have told Oxfordshire County Council that this will help them continue to operate some routes commercially, thus benefitting the whole community.  The affected schools have been informed.

S106 funding

Whilst the use of S106 funding is legally restricted and relates to specific developments, there are a dozen routes where Oxfordshire County Council has been able use this funding to pump-prime routes which could become commercially viable when the S106 funding runs out.
Innovative affordable transport solution

Earlier this month (May 24) Oxfordshire County Council approved the launch of an innovative pilot scheme that will offer a pre-paid bookable transport service to a broad spectrum of users ranging from groups of teenagers to individual elderly people.  The intention is to utilise the downtime of some of the county council’s 16-seater mini-bus fleet during off peak times and offer journeys to anyone without suitable access to transport.

Back in Greater London, over in Havering, TFL are set to cut route 647 in order to make savings; they are currently consulting users about the route which you can see here.

My view is that they should replace route 647 with an extra school service on the main 174 route.

It's worth noting that TFL's Consultation page says that the 647 will no longer run on 20th July 2016, which is the same date the mass changes to the Oxfordshire bus services begin.

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See also:

Image attribution
By Au Morandarte from London, Middlesex, England - Stagecoach Oxford 12011 on Route 2, Oxford City Centre, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36675918
By Geof Sheppard (talk) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31110617

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