THE jobs of 10 drivers at bus firm Thames Travel have been safeguarded after it decided to keep running a route across southern Oxfordshire without a subsidy.

The 32 service links Abingdon, Didcot, Harwell and Wantage, and managers have decided they can still run it and make a profit, even without the grant from the county council.

Hugh Jaeger, chairman of the Oxfordshire group of Bus Users UK, said: “A route that supports itself commercially is one that is most secure.

“It’s better for passengers, better for bus operators and better for the county council.

Thames Travel general manager Max McCarthy said: “By running service 32 commercially we have taken its future away from the debate about public finances and secured the service for its existing and, hopefully, additional future customers.

“In fact, the new timetable will have more journeys and improved facilities, which we have included after listening to our customers.”

“We want to encourage more people to use buses, so that services can be run without public subsidy wherever possible.

Timetables for the improved Service 32 will be available in November.

Mr McCarthy said services supported by the council were “re- tendered” every three years.

He said the drivers’ jobs were safeguarded because the future of the route was now entirely within Thames Travel’s control, so the jobs were no longer “tied up with the tendering process”.

Phil Ashworth, a spokesman for Thames Travel, said it would not reveal the amount of subsidy it received for the 32 service.

The decision to run it alone was taken after discussions with the council.

County council cabinet member for transport Rodney Rose said: “Oxfordshire is very well served by bus services, with many commercially operated routes.

“However, like all councils we are having to make large savings as a result of reduced Government grants.”