VILLAGERS will have to find a new way to get to school and work after a bus service between Witney and Oxford stops running today.

Stagecoach’s number 11 route, which passes through several West Oxfordshire villages, will be withdrawn after low passenger numbers meant it was no longer financially viable.

Other routes are available to residents in North Leigh, Hanborough and Eynsham, but Freeland will now only be served by a community bus running once per week.

Residents have been urged to use the 233 service, even though the nearest stop is in Long Hanborough.

Read again: Community bus service set up for villagers

Freeland Parish Council clerk, Lisa Smith, called the decision ‘disappointing’ for villagers who 'rely' on the service.

She said: “We’ve got quite a lot of elderly people in the village who rely on it to get around.

“People are worried about it. We have lots of families but also an elderly population and some people rely on it to get to work and school.

“For people who live down the other end of the village that’s quite a walk, especially if you have mobility problems.”

The service was set to stop on April 29, after passenger numbers fell to just 35 each day on average.

Oxfordshire County Council pushed the deadline back to find an alternative provider, but West Oxfordshire Community Transport (WOCT) pulled out due to the cost.

Read also: WOCT pulls out of running 11 service

WOCT wanted to run the 11 between Witney and Eynsham and add more villages to the route. 

Liam Walker, county councillor for Hanborough and Minster Lovell, had tried to find a solution but admitted the lack of passengers was a stumbling block.

He said: “There may be scope to review existing bus routes in the future, but until there’s clear evidence that passenger numbers will increase it’s hard to run the service.”

A Stagecoach spokesperson added: “The small number of passengers using the service to travel into Oxford from the villages are encouraged to board the 233 to Witney to connect to the S1 to Oxford or travel on the 233 to Woodstock to connect to the S3 to Oxford.”

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Merilyn Davies, district councillor for Hanborough and Freeland, has been working with Blenheim for almost a year on implementing a new community bus service. 

A public consultation could take place in July, while the independent councillor will also meet with West Oxfordshire District Council.

She said: “We have visited various community initiatives and consulted with commercial providers in order to develop a model which is sustainable and which meets the needs of local residents. 

The councillor added: “This is a community initiative and needs community buy in for it to work. 

“I must stress this will not be a replacement for the number 11 and is unlikely to be bus route as we understand it but more a bespoke service targeting key needs."