BUS PASSENGERS face a half-mile walk to the John Radcliffe hospital after a new dedicated service stops short of the entrance.

Stagecoach announced last week it will begin running the S7 service between Carterton and Headington from Monday, July 28.

It followed a campaign launched in May last year by councillors and residents, who said it took up to two-and-a-half hours to get from Witney to the county’s main hospital.

But the service will only stop in Headley Way, Headington, leaving passengers up to half a mile away from the hospital.

Enid Huttel, 87, who has lived in Witney since 1977, uses a walking stick and said it would be a difficult journey.

She said: “I don’t relish the walk up Headley Way. It’s no good just dumping people like me that far away when we can’t walk it.

“A bus service is essential for people like me to get to the various hospitals and we don’t necessarily go to one hospital. I go to the Nuffield and Churchill as well as the JR.”

Witney resident Heather Stanbridge, 82, said: “I can definitely see it would be a problem to people who have difficulty walking.

“It should go to the hospital and it seems rather ludicrous that it doesn’t. About 70 to 80 per cent of people are on that bus to go to the hospital.”

West Oxfordshire District Council member for Witney Central, Andrew Coles, and Witney South and Central county councillor Laura Price lobbied the county council and Stagecoach for the S7 service. Mr Coles, who has been a bus driver for 10 years, said he was pleased with the service but felt it did not go far enough.

He added: “We’re a little bit disappointed that it doesn’t completely meet our objectives. We’re very hopeful that this is just the start and we can persuade Stagecoach in the long run to go to the hospital.

“This is the first stage of what we hope will be better connections, to not just the JR but other hospitals like Nuffield and Churchill.

“There’s an awful lot of workers at the JR who live in West Oxfordshire so the bus could also alleviate congestion on the A40, which is a massive problem.”

Stagecoach business development manager Karen Coventry said the company hopes to expand the hours and frequency of the service in the future.

She added: “We are not currently running the service into the hospital due to the congestion we are experiencing with other services on the site of the JR.”

ALL CHANGE