RURAL bus services could soon be boosted by £588,000 given out from a government grant, though concerns about a quick turnaround to apply for the money have been raised.

Oxfordshire County Council was offered the £588,403 pot of money from the government’s one-year supported bus services fund in February.

The council’s cabinet member for the environment, Yvonne Constance, signed a letter to the government confirming OCC wanted to use the money to protect bus services in rural areas across Oxfordshire on Thursday.

Council officers said they were confident they had done enough to consult the public ahead of making the bid for the money.

They said they had contacted bus users and parish councillors for their opinions on February 25.

Oxford Mail:

Yvonne Constance.

How is the money being spent?

According to the statement of intent letter sent to the government, the council will spend the money is three separate ways.

  • £125,000 will be spent on improving supported bus services, including the 136 between RAF Benson and Wallingford, and new Sunday routes between Banbury and Chipping Norton, Watlington and Oxford, and Woodstock and Witney.
  • £253,400 will be spent on restoring lost bus routes between Chipping Norton and Kingham station, Southmoor and Oxford, and Abingdon, Berinsfield and Cowley.
  • £210,000 will extend current services including a service between Lambourn and Swindon, an evening service from Oxford to Banbury, and a new Sunday service from Wallingford to Henley.

What councillors said about the funding

Lib Dem councillor John Howson asked why no consideration had been made to restore bus services within Oxford.

He said he was concerned that residents in parts of his ward St Margaret's were too far away from current bus routes.

He was told rural bus services were meant to be the focus of the money.

Ms Constance said she was satisfied with the statement of intent.

She added: "You cannot start new services with one year of money unless it is going to move towards growth to viability."

The government intends to launch a national bus strategy for England later this year to support public transport links.