Almost half of subsidised bus routes in Oxfordshire to be scrapped

Thames Travel bus Image copyright Des Blenkinsopp
Image caption The changes affect about 9% of the county's bus services

Almost half of Oxfordshire's subsidised bus routes are set to be scrapped following the end of council funding.

Forty nine services are due to stop next month. Fifty six will continue, many with amended timetables or routes, run commercially by bus companies.

The council said ending the funding to routes that are not commercially viable would save £3.7m.

However, campaigners fear more routes could close if they make losses when running without subsidies.

The authority announced in November it would withdraw bus subsidies following a reduction in its budget from central government.

The routes affected make up 9% of the county's bus services. The remainder are entirely commercially run.

Among the routes stopping altogether on 20 July are some services around Oxford, through Witney town centre, Bicester and Abingdon.

'Important services'

Other services including Stagecoach's Witney-Oxford route and Carousel Buses' High Wycombe-Thame route are to carry on unchanged.

Henley Town Council is funding a service in the town until April 2017.

Thames Travel's Wallingford-Abingdon service is one of those continuing with a reduced service.

Bus Users Oxford spokesman, Hugh Jaegar, warned there could be further cuts when the council stops paying subsidies.

"If you are on a route that is revised to run without a subsidy, for pity's sake use that bus or it will vanish"

He also called for transition funding from the government to be used as a "safety net" for routes attempting to continue without a subsidy.

"If there is no-one there to catch them, those important services will fail if they do not turn a profit."

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said it was "positive news" half the services would remain in some form.

He said the authority was investigating making council-owned mini-buses available as an "affordable, flexible door-to-door transport service".

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