Bus cash to boost local services

More than half a million pounds could be coming to Oxfordshire to boost local public transport services.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Environment, Cllr Yvonne Constance, has today given the go-ahead to a plan for spending a one-off £588,000 Department for Transport investment in bus services.

The national Supported Bus Services Fund is available in 2020/21 for local authorities to help provide more bus services in their area. The Government expects the funding to be used to improve the provision of local bus services by either:

  • restoring lost services where most needed,
  • improving current services, or
  • supporting new services or extensions.

County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Environment, said: “I am pleased that the Government is choosing to put money into public transport services and there has been a high level of interest in this funding amongst parish transport representatives, the general public and local transport operators.

“While the funding is welcome, it is only for one year and represents a small proportion of the resources available to the council previously for bus services. We had a very short time period to secure it, which meant our officers had to work quickly to put together our list of priorities.

“The funding would allow us to make some real improvements to the county’s public transport network, but we will have to carefully target the money to get the most out of it. For this reason we have worked hard to identify where we would use the money so that its benefit will be felt across the county.

“The money is only for one year so I really hope that spending the SBSF on supported bus services will help to encourage more travel by bus, thereby reducing traffic and congestion and hopefully making some services commercially viable. Fewer vehicles on the road would also reduce traffic emissions, contributing to better air quality and reducing the impact on climate change.”

The county council intends to use £125,000 of the fund to improve supported bus services as follows:

  • additional peak hour services on service 136 between RAF Benson and Wallingford
  • a new Sunday service on route 488 between Banbury and Chipping Norton
  • a new Sunday service on route 11 between Watlington and Oxford
  • a new Sunday service on route 233 between Woodstock and Witney, including key links to the rail network at Hanborough station

£253,400 of the fund will be used to restore lost bus routes as follows:

  • reinstatement of a former peak hour rail link service (formerly X8) between Chipping Norton and Kingham station
  • reinstatement of a broadly two hourly service (formerly 63) between Southmoor and Oxford via several villages remote from a main bus service
  • reinstatement of a broadly two hourly bus service (formerly T2) between Abingdon, Berinsfield and Cowley, connecting two major science centres. We expect to be able to further build on this service with developer funds.

£210,000 of the fund will be used to support extensions to current services as follows:

  • supporting another authority to retain service 47 to an isolated village between Lambourn and Swindon. Without this funding the service will no longer serve Oxfordshire
  • evening services on route S4 between Oxford and Banbury
  • a new Sunday service on route X38 between Wallingford and Henley (which will be combined with some developer funds we have to extend the service to/from Oxford)
  • improvement of Saturday services on route X9 between Chipping Norton, Charlbury and Witney
  • a new Sunday service on route 40 between Thame, Chinnor and Stokenchurch, which is an extension of an existing service to/from High Wycombe

All of the above services are subject to tender prices.