Oxfordshire County Council has been undertaking a detailed review of the Oxfordshire bus network with the major operators, including Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel.
The review - which was prompted by lower than usual passenger numbers, reduced government funding, and a national shortage of driving staff - looked at how best to balance the available resources with the areas of greatest need.
This follows a clause in the National Bus Strategy that encouraged local authorities to work with its operators to try and remove as much ‘wasteful duplication’ in the network as government spending on buses increases - both through recovery funding and the Bus Service Improvement Plan.
In summary, the bus network changes to expect across Oxfordshire are:
- One single operator will provide the principal bus services to Kidlington (route 2) and Rose Hill (route 3).
- Routes to the city centre from Littlemore and Greater Leys will also be consolidated.
- The park&ride500 service from Woodstock and Oxford Parkway will no longer run. However, Stagecoach service 7 will divert into the Oxford Parkway Park & Ride site to provide the same frequency.
- Services between Oxford, Abingdon, Harwell Campus and Wantage will also change, with new Thames Travel routes X1 and 34 replacing Stagecoach service S8 and 34.
- There will be an improved Stagecoach S9 service between Wantage and Oxford.
Details of the bus network changes across Oxfordshire, most of which will be introduced on 02 January 2022, are as follows:
Services 3 and 3A
Stagecoach services 3 and 3A will cease to operate, and Stagecoach will no longer serve the Iffley Road, Rose Hill or Littlemore. Oxford Bus Company will provide an increased timetable on the city3 (every 15 minutes) and city3A (every 30 minutes). Thames Travel River Rapids services X39 and X40 will also continue to serve the Iffley Road (every 30 minutes).
City3A will see its route amended to serve a greater proportion of Greater Leys due to the withdrawal of Stagecoach service 12. The section of the city3A route between the Oxford City Centre and Oxford Rail Station will be withdrawn.
Stagecoach services 12 and 16 will cease to operate. A new city5A service operated by Oxford Bus Company will replace elements of these services. It will operate every 30 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays and every 60 minutes on Sundays between Minchery Farm, Cowley Centre, Cowley Road and Oxford City Centre. Florence Park is covered by the revised Oxford Bus Company city20 service on a more limited basis, and Donnington Bridge Road is served by the Thames Travel service ST1.
Services X1 and X32
Stagecoach service S8 will cease to operate. A new Thames Travel service X1 will be introduced, connecting Wantage, East Hanney, Marcham, Abingdon and Oxford, with most journeys extending to Headington to connect the Oxford City Centre and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (mainly at off-peak times).
The service will also provide direct connections to Harwell Campus for residents of Grove and East Hanney as the X1 will interwork with the X32 service on arrival in Wantage, which will be retimed as a result. From Grove, the X1 will operate via Main Street, Grove Road, Mabley Way, Denchworth Road and Mill Street to Wantage Market Place.
Stagecoach service 34 will cease to operate. A new Thames Travel service 34 will be introduced, providing Monday to Friday peak-time commuter journeys between Abingdon and Harwell Campus.
Services 91 and 92
Whites Coaches’ Didcot town services 91, 92 and 93 will cease to operate. New Thames Travel services 91 and 92 will be introduced to provide a replacement for the majority of the withdrawn services on Mondays to Fridays daytimes. The route will be amended to provide connections to the Southmead Industrial Estate and improved services for residents of the Sandringham Road area.
Thames Travel service X36 will be extended to serve Willowbrook Park and Southmead Industrial Estate in Didcot. In Wantage, the X36 will divert to serve Charlton at off-peak times.
Thames Travel service 38 will be withdrawn. The new service X1 will provide a link between Wantage Market Place, Mabley Way, Grove Main Street and Oxford Lane.
Stagecoach will be running a new S9 route and timetable. Journeys will run every 20 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays, every 30 minutes in the evenings, and every 30 minutes on Sundays. The new route will cover Denchworth Road, Brereton Drive, Cane Lane, Denchworth Road, Mably Way, Grove Way, Grove Street, Seesen Way, Wallingford Street to Market Place.
Following the long-awaited completion of the bus gate at Great Western Park south, a new Thames Travel service 97 will commence operation, providing connections from Great Western Park South and the Park Road area to Didcot town centre and Didcot Parkway.
Services 33, 98, 99A/99C
Thames Travel services 33, 98 and 99A/99C will be retimed to improve reliability and to ensure improved spacing of journeys between Didcot Parkway and Milton Park following the changes to the X36 and X32 services.
Services 11 and River Rapids X39/X40
Thames Travel River Rapids services X39/X40, and service 11 will transfer to be operated by the Oxford Bus Company. Service 11 will see an additional journey to Watlington added to the timetable because of this change, while the timetables for the X39 and X40 services will continue unchanged.
The Oxford Bus Company city6 service will be enhanced to operate every 15 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays. The route in Wolvercote village will be amended to no longer serve Home Close and Clifford Place, with services now terminating in Baynhams Drive in the new Wolvercote Mill development.
The Oxford Bus Company city2 service will cease to operate and will no longer serve the Banbury Road and Kidlington. Stagecoach will continue to operate the service between Kidlington and Oxford and introduce a revised timetable on this corridor.
The Oxford Bus Company park&ride500 service from Oxford Parkway will cease to operate. Stagecoach will be amending the route of their service 7 to serve the Oxford Parkway Park & Ride car park. In addition, frequent services from Oxford Parkway will continue to operate to both Kidlington and Oxford.
Any Oxford Bus Company customers on the city2 and park&ride500 who hold tickets with ongoing validity after 02 January 2022 are advised to contact the company to request a refund via email to email@example.com, by phone at 01865 785400 or at the travel shop at Gloucester Green coach station.
These will be given pro-rata to any remaining time on the ticket, and no administration fees will be charged for refunds resulting from service changes associated with this network review.
Similarly, if you are a Stagecoach customer affected by these changes and would like to apply for a refund from the 02 January, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries or to request a refund. There will be no cancellation fee applied.
The County Council’s public transport team is also available to respond to queries about the bus network changes across Oxfordshire at email@example.com.
“The bus companies have done astonishingly well to maintain services during these unprecedented times, but government decisions and the pandemic have created a perfect storm, and our local operators have had to act. They need to counter the reduction in government funding, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on passenger numbers, and the challenging situation for recruitment of bus drivers.
“We are pleased to have been able to get the parties together to sort out a coordinated approach to tackle these issues facing the bus companies. Public transport is key to our plans to get more people out of their cars. That is why we need to first get the network on to a more secure financial footing while we try to secure £56 million from the government’s national bus strategy fund to improve services in the long term.”
—Councillor Tim Bearder, Cabinet Member for Highway Management at Oxfordshire County Council
“We very much appreciate the proactive approach taken by Oxfordshire County Council in seeking to support operators to stabilise the bus network in the county in what continue to be very difficult times for the public transport industry. The changes announced today will secure the future of many important routes and will also see several new journey possibilities opened up for bus users.
“Three in four bus users in Oxfordshire have now returned to travelling by bus after the COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, and we are looking forward to seeing more customers returning in the new year, as well as to welcoming new customers to our services in the near future.”
—Phil Southall, Managing Director of Oxford Bus Company
“We are encouraged to see more of our customers return, however, we have to be realistic and address the effects that COVID-19 has had on how and when our customers travel into and around the city.
“Stagecoach is very much still in support of the Oxford SmartZone scheme to provide flexibility of ticket offering for customers. We have welcomed the opportunity to engage with Oxfordshire County Council to consider and agree alternative solutions to how we operate our routes.
“We will be sad to say goodbye to some of our most loyal customers and know that our drivers will be equally disappointed as they have been proud to serve our customers in the areas we will no longer be operating in.”
—Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director of Stagecoach West