Bus companies have alleged that Oxfordshire County Council has broken its promise over the East Oxford Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and claimed that journeys were now slower and less reliable.

The Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel both claimed that the controversial traffic calming measures had been detrimental to passengers, drivers and the communities that they serve.

They said they were “disappointed” that councillors had been recommended to make the LTNs permanent at cabinet meeting on Tuesday (October 17).

The authority maintained that bus journey times would improve when its traffic filters scheme is rolled out next year.

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Oxford Mail: Luke Marion, managing director of the Oxford Bus Company and Thames TravelLuke Marion, managing director of the Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel (Image: Photo: Fortitude Communications)

Luke Marion, managing director of both bus companies, said: “Data demonstrates LTNs in East Oxford have made congestion in the area worse.

“Based on the overall negative response to Oxfordshire County Council’s consultation we are disappointed by its recommendation to make LTNs permanent.

“Our focus remains on delivering a world-class service for our passengers and sadly policies that cause increased congestion do not help us make bus travel as appealing as it can be.”

In a joint response to the council’s consultation in July, the companies, along with Stagecoach West, alleged that the authority was “in breach of the contractual commitments” it had made a year before when it agreed a deal to deliver a fleet of 159 new battery-electric buses to Oxfordshire.

Bus companies invested more than £45 million into the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme on the basis that the average bus speeds would be increased by 10 per cent from 2019 levels.

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But in the letter from July, the companies said that LTNs had made services “substantially slower" and that the agreement was in “a truly grave position.”

The companies warned that if the LTNs in Divinity Road, St Clement’s and St Mary’s are made permanent at Tuesday’s meeting, the council must implement new measures to improve services.

Oxford Mail: An LTN in East OxfordAn LTN in East Oxford

In response, the council said that, if the LTNs are made permanent, additional measures would be considered as well as the traffic filters.

Mr Marion said the bus companies would “work proactively” with council officers to improve congestion in Oxford.

Rachel Geliamassi, managing director of Stagecoach West, said the company would proceed with the ZEBRA scheme on the basis that traffic filters improve journey times.

But Tory councillor Liam Walker, who is the shadow cabinet member for highways, said the situation withg bus companies was “embarrassing” for the council’s ruling coalition.

"I think they’re absolutely right to raise these concerns," he added.

Those who support LTNs claim they reduce air pollution and traffic and make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.