Campaigners speak out against bus savings in Oxfordshire

Hugh Jaeger - chairman of Bus Users Oxford NNL-150223-152102001
Hugh Jaeger - chairman of Bus Users Oxford NNL-150223-152102001

A group representing Oxfordshire bus users has rejected proposals to cut subsidised bus services in the county.

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is currently consulting on whether to cut £2.3m from funds paid by the authority to support bus routes which are not commercially viable.

The council says this could be achieved by funding services most likely to be used by elderly or disabled people or giving priority to services at peak times in the mornings or afternoon. Alternatively, the council has also suggested it could instead focus on providing bus services in the evening or at the weekend.

A second option would see all of the 105 bus subsidies withdrawn entirely, saving about £3.7m.

Hugh Jaeger, chairman of Bus Users Oxford, said the proposal “too narrowly defines” which passengers are most vulnerable and which buses they need.

He said: “Many disabled people have jobs and need peak-hour buses to commute. Disabled workers are more likely to be in low-paid jobs, and less able to afford a car or taxi. Low-paid able-bodied workers are also vulnerable. If they lose their bus, they may have to leave their jobs.”

“OCC has a statutory duty to take children to school if they live more than two miles from their primary school or three miles from their secondary school. But it has no duty to take students to college.”

Mr Jaeger also criticised OCC’s “poor” advertising of the ongoing consultation and the timings of public meetings. He said: “A proposal to cut subsidised buses should be advertised at every stop on each of those routes, and on every bus on each of those services. There should also be a notice and leaflets in each public library. So far, OCC has done none of this.”

Between July 6 and 8 there were five public meetings in Banbury, Didcot, Witney, Abingdon and Oxford.

A spokesman for OCC confirmed that notices would appear on all subsidised bus services.