We would all prefer not to be making any cuts at all but Oxfordshire County Council and bus operators have risen to the challenge and been working closely together to progress measures to minimise the impact on local communities.
The pilot being proposed is an excellent example of Oxfordshire County Council being imaginative about potential ways to deliver more for the people of Oxfordshire. You won’t find many local authorities in Britain who offer a similar service. It is only possible because Oxfordshire County Council has the strategic overview of the whole transport network.
It can be used by anyone in the county for one-off or regular trips which would be pre-booked and paid for in advance. Designing the service in this way allows the council to make maximum use of its fleet and keep it affordable for the benefit of everyone in Oxfordshire.”
Update on measures being progressed to reduce the impact of bus subsidy cuts
We're working on a series of measures to mitigate the impact of cutting all bus subsidies on July 20 including an exciting new scheme that will make more use of existing council vehicles to benefit people of all ages across the county as well as parish councils and community groups who have expressed interest in paying for an affordable, flexible door-to-door transport service.
The council subsidises 118 bus services in the county which make up 9 per cent of the bus network which means 91 per cent of the bus network undertaken in the county is commercially operated and therefore not affected. In February 2016 the council confirmed its decision to end all funding for local bus services which don't carry enough passengers to be run commercially (subsidised buses) in order to save £3.7 million. A report to cabinet on May 24 summarised positive progress on four key fronts to reduce the impact of bus subsidy cuts for communities across the county.
1. Innovative affordable transport solution – the cabinet on May 24 approved the launch of an innovative pilot scheme that will offer a pre-paid bookable transport service to a broad spectrum of users ranging from groups of teenagers to individual elderly people. The intention is to utilise the downtime of some of the county council’s 16-seater mini-bus fleet.
2. Updates from bus operators - Not all 118 subsidised bus services will be terminated because bus operators are still considering if they can continue to operate any of the routes commercially. Nine of the seventeen operators who operate subsidised bus services have responded to say that 16 routes will continue to operate commercially, either with the same or amended service. Discussions continue with other bus operators.
3. Use of public transport for home to school transport – The council has reviewed all home to school travel arrangements and identified a small number of routes where it is more economical for the council to pay for schoolchildren to use season tickets on an existing public bus route. Operators have told Oxfordshire County Council that this will help them continue to operate some routes commercially, thus benefitting the whole community.
4. S106 funding - Whilst the use of S106 funding is legally restricted and relates to specific developments, Oxfordshire County Council can use it to pump prime a small handful of routes which can become commercially viable when the S106 funding runs out. This is usually only possible where there is significant new housing planned in the area. Oxfordshire County Council has reviewed all of the routes and identified those where a S106 funding opportunity exists.
Get the latest information
Oxfordshire County Council has been publishing details online as soon as bus operators confirm their intentions for the services they run. To view the latest updates, visitwww.oxfordshire.gov.uk/subsidisedbuses