VILLAGERS have hit out after their bus services into Bicester were cut significantly.

Stagecoach is making changes to its Bicester-to-Oxford S5 route which serves Langford, Launton, Ambrosden and Bullingdon Prison in Arncott.

It published a new timetable starting on December 4 with the service no longer extending to Langford and Launton.

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Just three S5 journeys would extend to Ambrosden on a Sunday, with the final two also extending to/from Bullingdon.

But two new half-hourly routes - service 29 to/from HMP Bullingdon and service H5 to/from the John Radcliffe Hospital - will be introduced thanks to developer funds from Oxfordshire County Council.

Despite this, residents are disappointed that Stagecoach is reducing its services, making it more difficult for elderly people to travel.

Joni Auger from Arncott said: “Just makes no sense at all – we have many elderly who rely on the bus.

"School children use the bus service and I am sure we have many Bicester village/town workers who also use it.”

Wendi Isabel from Langford said: “Bad news for us in Langford. I have mobility issues, don’t drive and rely on the bus.”

Stagecoach said that it had to make the changes because of a lack of people using the buses, making them unprofitable.

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Bicester resident Lisa Smith commented: “Since Covid, no one has been using the bus or very rarely. Stagecoach can’t afford to run a bus up to places once every hour for no one to use it.

"I can understand to a certain degree why people aren’t using the buses, but it’s true what they say - use it or lose it.”

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The bus company was not going to serve Upper Arncott with its new service 29, but after discussions with the county council it has agreed three off-peak journeys to/from the village instead of to HMP Bullingdon on weekdays.

This route will also mean a new bus service for villages Merton and Islip and, along with service H5, will operate via the Graven Hill development in Bicester.

The council is also funding a new Sunday morning journey to/from Ambrosden on service S5, to complement the two afternoon journeys that already exist.

A council spokesperson added: “The county council continues to discuss the bus service options for Launton and Langford with Stagecoach and are hopeful for a resolution later this week.

“Any such solution will involve a shuttle service to/from Bicester, rather than direct journeys to/from Oxford as before, although we expect through tickets to continue to be available.”

A new shuttle service - the 27 - will operate two-hourly between Bicester and Langford and hourly as the 28 service between Bicester and Launton Monday to Saturdays.

County Councillor for Ambrosden and Arncott Dan Sames said he was made aware of Stagecoach’s initial changes around four weeks ago.

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He added: “I was quite concerned that the service was being cut so I’ve been working with officers to look at alternative provision. Through raising the concerns we have ensured that Upper Arncott still has a service.

“Figures from 2018-19 show that an average of 29 passengers from Langford used the S5. These services are great but it needs a volume of people using it.”

Cherwell Councillor for Bicester South and Ambrosden Nick Cotter says a petition he set up has helped to put pressure on Stagecoach and the county council to work on a solution. Chris Coleman, managing director of Stagecoach Oxfordshire, said: “I would suggest residents keep an eye on our website over the next few days for the latest updates.”