One of Oxford's oldest companies could benefit from a new "Park and Glide" scheme to ease Oxford's traffic congestion.

Salters Steamers, established in 1858, has told the city council that it would be interested in carrying commuters into the city centre on 150-seat boats.

The idea will form part of Oxford's bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2008, a campaign being organised by a group called Oxford Inspires.

John Salter, director of Salters Steamers, said that by 2008 their boats could take shoppers and commuters into the city centre from new moorings next to car parks at Godstow in the north and Redbridge in the south.

He added: "We're confident that given the correct planning and organisation, this initiative is certainly plausible and could even prove to be another answer to the ever-increasing traffic congestion affecting our city."

The family-run company first offered boat trips from Oxford to Kingston-upon-Thames in 1888. Now it offers trips as far afield as Windsor, where it also has an office.

The firm, which employs 15 permanent staff at its boat-building and boat-hire yard at Folly Bridge, owns 11 river steamers.

Mr Salter is the fifth generation of the family to run the business. During the summer, the number of staff rises to about 45.

Oxford Inspires also wants to develop the city's hidden river tributaries to the north, south, east and west in order to revive the pleasure boat industry.

Oxford is on the shortlist of six cities bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture for 2008 alongside Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff.

Mr Salter added: "Any future Park and Glide scheme would require a great deal of logistical planning, for example, building two new sites at Redbridge and Godstow.

"The Thames is comparatively narrow in Oxford, interrupted by locks, and does not cut through the city centre in the same way that the Cam does in Cambridge."