OXFORDSHIRE will be one of the worst affected areas in the UK to be hit by cuts to bus subsidies, according to new research.

A study by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) found that rural bus services were being wiped out in the county along with some other areas of England and Wales due to cuts from councils.

Oxfordshire County Council agreed to cut bus subsidies 118 mainly rural routes to save £3.7m across the county and users have said losing the service will leave them isolated in their communities.

It is understood the cuts will take effect in June.

According to the figures from the CBT, Oxfordshire was ranked the fourth in the authorities cutting bus subsidies the most.

Martin Abrams, CBT's public transport campaigner, said: "This new research shows that up and down the country utterly devastating cuts are now being inflicted on our vital bus services.

Mr Abrams said it was a "bitter irony" that many of the bus routes being cut had originally replaced the thousands of rail services that Dr Beeching recommended should be ceased, leaving more areas without any public transport.

All bus subsidies in the county could be cut to save £70m over the next four years. The county council has already made savings totalling £290m.

County cabinet member for transport David Nimmo Smith told the Oxford Mail that the decision to end all bus route subsidies was necessary, but one “we would all prefer not to make”.

Peter Box, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, said councils were finding it "impossible" to continue to make up a funding shortfall for the concessionary fares scheme, which is in place for young, elderly and disabled people.

He added: "The way the concessionary travel scheme is funded by Whitehall has long been unfit for purpose and has not kept up with growing demand and cost.

"Unless the Government commits to fully funding concessionary fares, vital bus services that support the most vulnerable in our society will continue to come under pressure."

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: "I recognise that buses provide a vital service in local communities, and particularly in more remote areas.

"Decisions on funding for local bus services are a matter for local authorities, but the Government protected around £250 million of funding for bus services in England, provided through the Bus Service Operators Grant, as part of last year's spending review."

Here is a summary of CBT's survey: 

Lancashire - £7.5 million

Wiltshire - £5.1 million

Derbyshire - £4.8 million

Oxfordshire - £3.7 million

Leicestershire - £2 million

Lincolnshire - £2 million

Dorset - £500,000

North Yorkshire - £500,000

Somerset - £446,460

Hertfordshire - £390,000

West Berkshire - £320,000