A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER last night vowed to give back her bus pass after cuts agreed to her service rendered it “useless”.

Margaret Donaldson, 91, who lives in Canal Street, Jericho, is among thousands of people set to be affected by changes agreed yesterday, which could see subsidised bus routes across Oxfordshire scrapped.

The routes under threat.xlsx

The former Morris Plant switchboard worker, who lost her husband Ian 40 years ago, uses her pass to catch the No.17 bus into central Oxford to go shopping and said it was a “nightmare even thinking about” having to get around without the service.

The No.17 is one of the 118 bus routes subsidised by Oxfordshire County Council every year at a total cost of £3.7m because bus companies said they were not commercially viable.

But senior councillors have agreed to stop this as part of cost-cutting measures.

It is part of wider cuts of almost £290m agreed by the local authority since 2010 – due to reductions in its Government funding – and it could be forced to find £50m more this winter.

County transport boss David Nimmo Smith said the decision to end all bus route subsidies was “necessary”, but one “we would all prefer not to have to make”.

But at a meeting yesterday, Mrs Donaldson, who has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and others pleaded with councillors to find the money elsewhere.

She told the Oxford Mail: “If we don’t have a bus from Jericho, how will elderly people get to town or to the hospitals? It will be a terrible problem.

“If they cut the 17 bus I will give back my bus pass, because it will be useless.

“We are all very worried.”

The cuts were also criticised by the Oxfordshire Transport and Access Group, which said it would mean elderly and disabled people who caught buses at off-peak times could become “isolated”.

Spokesman Barrie Finch told councillors: “People who struggle to travel will simply not be seen.”

Bus Users Oxford chairman Hugh Jaeger added that removing funding for routes which had “a small subsidy per passenger” was a “false economy”.

The changes agreed yesterday will now be put forward for final approval in the council’s next budget, in February.

Senior councillors agreed that if cash from other savings could be found by then, an alternative option to cut £2.3m from subsidies would be considered instead.

This would mean funding for 36 off-peak services would be saved.

The changes next year would take effect from the spring, but Mr Nimmo Smith said residents “would not wake up one morning to find no buses running in Oxfordshire”.

He added: “We continue to discuss with the bus companies the prospects of these services running on a commercial basis. These changes will not happen straight away.

“We are well aware of the value of the buses to people in Oxfordshire... but we are now in year six of county council cuts.”

Bus companies Stagecoach and Thames Travel, which between them operate almost 60 of the routes, last night declined to say whether the end of subsidies would lead to all the subsidised routes closing.

Thames Travel spokesman Phil Ashworth said the firm would “study the ramifications”, and Stagecoach Oxfordshire spokeswoman Emma Wilberforce added: “It is not appropriate for us to comment at this stage, as it is now up to the county council to decide on its next steps.”

But the Oxford Mail understands that many of the routes could face closure.

An industry insider who asked not to be named said: “A small part of some of the services might continue to be operated commercially, but the vast majority are likely to come to an end.”