Oxford

Oxfordshire County Council subsidised bus routes at risk

Thames Travel bus Image copyright Des Blenkinsopp
Image caption The changes could affect about 9% of the county's bus services

All of Oxfordshire's 118 subsidised bus routes could lose their funding under new county council proposals.

The proposal is one option put forward by the local authority as it tries to cut its transport budget by £6.3m.

Only 2% of respondents to a public consultation supported withdrawing funding for every service.

Another suggestion would be to reduce funding paid to commercial bus companies by £2.3m - this would affect between 79 and 88 routes.

'Difficult choices'

The council has also proposed stopping funding Dial-a-Ride services for elderly and vulnerable people from April 2016.

A spokesman said the changes would affect a maximum of 9% of the county's bus services, adding that £3.7m was already being saved "by running existing services more efficiently".

David Nimmo Smith, Conservative cabinet member for the environment, said the council was in its sixth years of cuts in government funding and had to take "difficult choices".

He added: "We are in the process of saving £290m from 2010 to 2018 and may have to save as much as £50m on top of this - which is why we have an option to cease all of our bus subsidies rather than just £2.3m."

Image caption Oxfordshire County Council will support voluntary groups in taking on Dial-a-Ride services

A spokesman for Thames Travel, which currently receives funding to run 21 bus services, said it would "study the implications" of whatever the council decides.

Liz Brighouse, leader of the council's Labour group, said the proposed cuts were the inevitable result of "austerity" imposed by central government.

She added: "It is going to need to be looked at very carefully, we don't want to make the lives of elderly and vulnerable people more difficult."

A full list of the bus services that could be affected can be found on the county council's website.

The council's cabinet is set to consider the proposals at a meeting on 10 November.

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