New year present for bus passengers in Oxfordshire

Bus passengers are set to be benefit as services across the county are set to be improved and maintained in the New Year thanks to Oxfordshire County Council working with local bus operators and major employers.

Bus operators have also taken a number of measures to promote safe travel, by implementing social distancing measures on board, restricting capacity and enhancing cleaning regimes, particularly of key touchpoints. Passengers are reminded that face coverings are mandatory on public transport, except for those who are in exempt categories.

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Transport at Oxfordshire County Council said: “These changes are positive news for residents of Oxfordshire; we’ve worked with the bus operators to revise bus services and frequencies to connect people with real upgrades in services to vital areas of growing employment and economic activity.

This is particularly important as we look toward recovery from the pandemic and as a means of reducing our environmental impact as individuals within growing communities. The improvements to services will also mean real travel choices for people as we look to fight congestion and improve air quality too.”

Phil Southall, Thames Travel Managing Director, said: “We’re proud to be launching a raft of new services in the new year to help drive the region’s recovery and continue to improve congestion and air quality.

“Our new contracts with Milton Park and Oxfordshire County Council to provide frequent shuttle bus services to the park will provide improved connectivity with Didcot Parkway Rail Station, Wantage, East Oxford and Headington’s life sciences district. It will also improve the frequency of local services in Didcot using our Connector branded buses. This has created new jobs and will help make travel more sustainable.

“Passengers can be reassured our buses are deep cleaned daily and a recent investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches concluded the special cleaning measures conducted on public transport are ‘very effective’.”

From 4 January 2021, there are major changes to most bus routes in the Science Vale in response to county council contract awards and a new partnership between Milton Park and Thames Travel. Services will now operate more frequently between Milton Park and Didcot, with improved links to the site from Wantage, Grove, Abingdon and Oxford.

Milton Park staff who live in Didcot can now buy a Didcot Zone travel pass for just £20 per year, giving unlimited journeys on all Thames Travel services within the town and to work.

New service X36 is introduced between Wantage, Grove, Milton Park and Didcot, while the frequency of service X2 is increased between Didcot, Abingdon and Oxford – including an improved evening and Sunday service.

Thames Travel’s existing service X32 will be extended to operate between Wantage, Harwell Campus, Didcot, Milton Park, Oxford and John Radcliffe Hospital, providing a new direct link between south Oxfordshire and the hospital. Service 94 to/from Blewbury will be revised to also serve Chilton and Harwell Campus, and a new Saturday service will be introduced.

There will also be improved links to Culham Science Centre from Didcot, with a new service 95 offering peak time connections from the town and the Ladygrove estate. Long Wittenham, Clifton Hampden and Berinsfield will also see a new 95B service to/from Didcot on weekdays.

Abingdon will once again be linked to Oxford station by service X2. Service X3 will operate through to the John Radcliffe Hospital (replacing service X13), while also serving the new Barton Park development and Barton. A higher frequency will be introduced between Abingdon and Oxford city centre on Mondays to Saturdays.

The county council is also working with local community groups and developers to restore services to Horspath and Littleworth. A new service 46, provided by Thames Travel, will run on Mondays to Fridays between Wheatley, Horspath and Cowley Centre, with through tickets available onto Oxford city centre.

Meanwhile, in the Bicester area, a number of services have been revised, with the introduction of new services 29 and H5 doubling the frequency of service between Ambrosden and Bicester, together with a new service for the emerging Graven Hill development.

Service H5 now provides new, regular bus links between Bicester and John Radcliffe Hospital, also creating new services for Merton and Islip. Service 29 will serve Bullingdon Prison and Arncott, with a limited off-peak service for Upper Arncott retained following discussions with the local community.

The county council has also stepped in to provide funding to maintain vital links to Langford, Launton and Stratton Audley following withdrawal of the S5 and 18 bus services from these areas. New services 27 and 28 will run to Langford and Launton, while Stratton Audley will be served by a new Comet community transport route on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

From 17 January, Stagecoach will re-number service S7 between Carterton, Witney and the John Radcliffe Hospital to H2 and introduce two new journeys on Sundays to cover shift times.

Provision of improved bus services is a key component of the county council’s vision of thriving communities. The council has awarded over £9 million of local bus contracts in the past 12 months to support this goal.

Further details of changes can be found online: