MORE than 100 bus services across the county are under threat after more transport cuts were announced today.

Oxfordshire County Council said it needed make about £2.3m of cuts to subsidised bus services as part of £6.3m of transport savings between 2014 and 2018.

The council currently pays bus companies £3.68m a year to run 105 county bus routes that would otherwise not be commercially viable.

Authority support for dial-a-ride services, which costs about £250,000 a year, is also set to be scrapped, and changes will be made to services that take children with special needs to school.

These latest cuts are separate to the proposed changes revealed in Wednesday’s Oxford Mail, as they formed part of yearly contract reviews.

The new cuts are part of wider measures to balance the council’s budget.

Campaigners have claimed the cuts will mostly affect elderly and disabled passengers, but county council leader Ian Hudspeth said the changes were necessary and fair.

Mr Hudspeth said: “We are working hard to make sure it impacts on as few people as possible.

“Only about 15 per cent of people in Oxfordshire use subsidised bus services.

“We have got try to work with the bus companies to make sure we have the best deals for everybody.

“The bus services are commercial services but they do step up and have done in the past.

“They are very good at trying to make commercial services viable and so they will work very hard to try and deliver those services.

“If you look at dial-a-ride 220 people use it and 198 of those users can can walk and live within 400 metres of a bus stop.”

Council officers said no decisions had yet been taken on which bus services would have their subsidies cut, but that it would aim to protect those which operate during off-peak times.

This is designed to allow older and disabled people who use free offpeak bus passes to continue to benefit from them.

But Bus Users Oxford chairman Hugh Jaeger said those people would lose out under the plans.

He said: “Bus users respect the principle of respecting those who are most vulnerable and have least access to private transport.

“But those who are most vulnerable and less mobile include those of working age who want to travel to work and study. If you are elderly and want to go to the doctor you will go and use your bus pass after 9am.

“But if you want to go and work you will be up going to the station at 6am like everybody else.”

Among the bus companies running affected routes are Heyfordian Travel, Thames Travel, Go Ride, Whites Coaches and Pulhams Coaches.

Thames Travel general manager Stefan Soanes said the firm was working closely with the council to offer value for money.

Diane Haley, from Wadards Meadow in Witney, uses the Stagecoach 213 service, one of the routes threatened by the funding cut.

The route was previously withdrawn in June 2014 and then reinstated in November.

The 67-year-old said: “These buses are a lifeline to a lot of elderly people. The drivers are so nice.

“Some days the bus I get can be full and there is not a seat empty.

I would be very sorry to see these services go again.”

As well as cuts to subsidised bus routes and dial-a-ride, the council said a further £3.7m would be saved through “efficiency savings”, including using one single team to look after supported transport.

Of the £6.3m total to be found, £2.125m is to be saved in the current financial year, £2.1m in 2016- 17 and £1.7m in 2017-18, with £630,000 already saved since April 2014.

The county council said it hoped the dial-a-ride service – which is a door-to-door service for those who are less mobile – will be offered by voluntary organisations.

This is already the case in Oxford, where charity Aspire has taken over.

Headington dial-a-ride user Bette Martin, 92, said: “Hopefully we will continue to get the same level of service. I have already been with one of the new chappies from Aspire and I thought he was a decent chappie.”

There will also be changes to taxis used to take children with special educational needs to school.

Mr Hudspeth said the council was looking at more children sharing taxis, among other measures.

A consultation on the broad principles of the changes will run from June until August.


Have your say

A 12-WEEK consultation will run from midJune and will be organised by Oxfordshire County Council with support from Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC).

The county council has said ORCC will help work to ensure the views of vulnerable people are taken into account.

Posters advertising the consultation will be displayed on buses on routes that may be affected by the cuts and also in libraries, where hard copies of the consultation will be available.

Posters will be sent to parish, town and district councils so they can be placed in community notice boards, bus shelters and shops.

Those who wish to take part in the consultation will be given information about the proposed changes and are asked to fill out the feedback form online.

When it is available it will be able to view at

People can also contact their county councillor by telephone, post or email.

Their details are available here.