Oxford Bus Company has admitted the new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are not helping with congestion and are impacting bus services.

The new LTNs in East Oxford were rolled out on May 20 for a six-month trial, covering the Divinity Road, St Clement’s, and St Mary’s areas.

The scheme has been controversial since it was implemented, with groups on both sides passionately arguing their support, or distain, for the traffic measures which aim to combat congestion and air pollution.

READ MORE: Oxford’s new BBQ restaurant: Take a look inside

In a tweet thread regarding delays due to road works posted Monday afternoon (June 6), Oxford Bus Company admitted the LTNs in place on Cowley Road “do not help with the traffic flow across these areas” and “unfortunately this is impacting on the bus services”.

The company went on state the “issue has been raised with the local authorities”.

On June 8, the company clarified that supports LTNs "as long as it does not impact on their business". 

"But when the traffic congestion caused by these measures is making bus travel less attractive to customers, it does not encourage people to leave their cars at home," the company added. 

Oxford Mail: The tweets from Oxford Bus Company on June 6The tweets from Oxford Bus Company on June 6

Oxford Mail: Oxford Bus Company's tweet on June 8Oxford Bus Company's tweet on June 8

Labour councillor Shaista Aziz, who represents Rose Hill and Iffley, feels the tweet from Oxford Bus Company really “gets to the heart” of the complex issue of LTNs.

She said: “If we are to reduce cars on the road and if we are to have a transport and environmental policy that works coherently, then we need to make sure that buses can run properly, to time, are fully accessible and affordable.”

Ms Aziz believes Oxfordshire County Council needs to be in active conversation with the bus companies, in order to resolve issues and maintain services.

“The division around the LTNs is increasing, it is not decreasing.

“If people could move around on public transport without their journeys being impeded by measures that are apparently in place to reduce car usage and improve the lives of all residents, I think there be more consensus to have these measures in place,” she told the Oxford Mail.

Oxford Mail: East Oxford LTNs. Picture: Ed Nix East Oxford LTNs. Picture: Ed Nix

Similar comments to Ms Aziz’s were made by Oxford East MP Annelise Dodds in March, when she urged Oxfordshire County Council to “pause” the roll out of LTNs, until measures for bus prioritisation were implemented.

Although the MP supports LTNs “in principle”, she said she was “increasingly concerned” about the ways they were being introduced.

At the time she said: “I am concerned that continuing with the roll-out of LTNs now, before bus prioritisation measures have been put in place will worsen congestion on arterial routes used by buses in Oxford, further negatively impact bus uptake in East Oxford, and increase division around active and public transport measures in Oxford’s communities.”

Oxford Mail: The letter sent to Oxfordshire County Council by Anneliese DoddsThe letter sent to Oxfordshire County Council by Anneliese Dodds

Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company interim managing director, told the Oxford Mail: “We are supportive of LTNs in general, when they are planned in conjunction with bus priority measures to ensure bus journey speeds are maintained.

“We have had constructive meetings with Oxfordshire County Council regarding the LTNs in Cowley to outline our position and the need to ensure public transport does not continue to be adversely impacted.

“We have agreed it is too early at this stage to establish evidence of behaviour change and travel trends, and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“We apologise for any delays caused to our customers as a result of this issue.”

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council said: “We are aware of some delays to bus journey times, and these are to be expected while the trial measures bed in. Our monitoring shows that prior to the half term week, these delays were already reducing.

“The council remains in regular contact with the bus operators to discuss not only low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) but wider council policy.

Stagecoach has also been approached for an official comment.  


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

A message from our Editor

Thank you for reading this story and supporting the Oxford Mail.

If you like what we do please consider getting a subscription for the Oxford Mail and in return we’ll give you unrestricted access with less adverts across our website from the latest news, investigations, features, and sport.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok for more. 

You can also join the conversation in our Facebook groups: stay ahead of traffic alerts here, keep up to date with the latest from court here, share your favourite memories of Oxford here, get your daily dose of celebrity news here and take some time out with news that will make you smile. 

If you’ve got a story for our reporters, send us your news here. You can also list an event for free here.