A PIONEER in public transport who founded the Oxford Tube has died in Barbados aged 75.

Harry Blundred’s impassioned work saw him break ground in the world of buses – launching successful services both across England and in Australia.

His innovative approach to public transport led to him founding his own company, Thames Transit, and the Oxford Tube, linking Oxford to London with a service that remains popular to this day.

In 1994 he was made an OBE for his service to the bus industry.

Mr Blundred was born in Stoke-on Trent on September 19, 1941.

His father, Harold, served in the RAF and was killed during the Second World War. His mother worked as an ambulance driver.

He attended grammar school in his hometown before going to Queen Mary University of London, where he earned a degree in modern languages.

After completing his education he returned to Stoke-on-Trent and his first love: public transport.

He began his career in the National Bus Company as a conductor with Potteries Motor Traction in 1962 and then East Midland.

In the early 1970s he moved to a management job with Southdown Motor Services in Brighton as the traffic development officer, although initially he was known internally as the ‘traffic destruction officer’ a result of the rationalisation the role entailed.

One of the most successful services he introduced, the 700 Coastliner, is still thriving today.

After a spell as assistant traffic manager at Southdown, Mr Blundred moved to City of Oxford Motor Services (Oxford Bus Company) as traffic manager in 1979 and lived in Finstock near Charlbury.

Mr Blundred flourished in the role and enjoyed every aspect of his time in Oxford before moving on to Devon General in 1983.

It was during his time at Devon General that his pioneering spirit really came to the fore with the introduction of high frequency minibus services in and around Exeter and Torbay.

He was determined to prove that with high frequency and good customer service, the decline in bus travel could be reversed.

In 1985, Mr Blundred led a management buy-out, returning Devon General to the private sector in August 1986 when it became the first bus company in the country to be privatised as a result of the Government’s decision to split up the National Bus Company prior to deregulation.

With the success of the minibus services in Devon, Mr Blundred believed he had a blueprint for success and formed a brand new company in Oxford: Thames Transit.

The company served as competition to City of Oxford Motor Services and launched the Oxford Tube, linking Oxford to London by coach.

With a total of 150 journeys a day in each direction, the Oxford Tube is the highest frequency long distance coach route currently operating in the United Kingdom.

Companies in East London and Portsmouth followed.

In 1992, Devon General was restructured and the Transit Holdings Group was formed.

It soon gained a reputation as a trail-blazer among Britain’s bus companies and Mr Blundred was made an OBE in 1994 for his service to the bus industry.

But his work was not done. In 1995 he had his eye on expansion once again, this time on the other side of the world.

Transit Australia was formed and soon he was operating in five cities on the Queensland coast.

In 1996, the Devon companies were sold to Stagecoach Holdings, followed by the Oxford company the following year.

He continued to run his Australian companies for a few more years before selling out and, at the time of his death, was enjoying retirement in Barbados.

Mr Blundred was married three times, to Christine, Janet – with whom he had a daughter, Nicola – and Sarah.

He married Sarah in 2004 but the couple were living separate lives at the time of his death.

He is survived by his daughter and granddaughter.

There will be a celebration of Mr Blundred's life on the afternoon of September 21 in Greenwich.

Anyone requiring further details should email his daughter Nicky at nickyblundred@gmail.com