Anger as Oxfordshire bus services cut to 'stabilise' services

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Oxford city centreImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Most of the changes to the bus services across the county will take effect from 2 January 2022

Cuts to bus services across Oxfordshire are a "big step backwards" and will increase traffic across the county, a councillor has said.

A review by Oxfordshire County Council and bus companies said services will need to change after a "perform storm" of problems, including the pandemic.

Most changes will be rolled out in the New Year. Operators said they will help "stabilise" the bus network.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has supported the council, it said.

Tim Bearder, the council's cabinet member for highway management, said a shortage of drivers, "government decisions" and the pandemic had created "the perfect storm".

But he said the council had agreed a "coordinated approach" with bus companies and that it will look to secure funds from the government to "improve services in the long term".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Tim Bearder said the council will look to secure government money to "improve services in the long term"

Amongst some of the changes, single operators will provide the principal bus services to Kidlington and Rose Hill, while routes from Oxford city centre from Littlemore and Greater Leys will be "consolidated to provide a more sustainable level of service better matched to passenger numbers".

Oxford city councillor Linda Smith said the changes will be "terrible" and a "big step backwards".

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Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company's managing director, said it was happy with the council's "proactive approach".

He added that the changes will "secure the future of many important routes and will also see several new journey possibilities opened up for bus users".

Rachel Geliamassi, Stagecoach West's managing director, said although the company is "encouraged" to see more of its customers using its services, it has to be "realistic" that there have been changes in "how and when" they use them.

A DfT spokesperson said: "We've provided £1.5 billion in emergency funding for bus services outside of London, with £700,000 going directly to Oxfordshire County Council.

"Our ambitious National Bus Strategy, launched earlier this year, sets out ways of improving services and better connecting communities as we build back better from the pandemic."

Summaries of the changes, most of which will be introduced on 2 January 2022, are available here and here.

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