The 11 and 18 buses through Eynsham are expected to stop running in July, says Dennis Stukenbroeker - parish transport representative.
Oxfordshire County Council will end its subsidies to 118 bus routes in the county on 20 July. The decision, taken by the OCC Cabinet on 15 March as part of the county council’s severe budget cuts, will withdraw all OCC support for the buses to coincide with the end of the 2015-16 school year.
The 18 bus service, which runs from Bampton to Oxford and is the only bus service for local villages such as Standlake, Northmoor, Stanton Harcourt and Sutton, is run by bus operator Stagecoach but fully subsidised by OCC.
Stagecoach is expected to confirm its intentions to the county council in May, but has told Eynsham Parish Council that the 18 route was not viable without the £118,000 annual subsidy from the county council. The route carries 54,000 passengers a year and would have to triple passenger numbers to be a commercial service.
The 11 service from Witney to Oxford, which serves North Leigh, Freeland and Long Hanborough as well as Eynsham, is also run by Stagecoach. This route was previously subsidised but taken into commercial operation by Stagecoach in 2014. The bus operator has told Eynsham Parish Council that the result was ‘disappointing’ and the route was in ‘critical condition’ and would be reviewed in June. While the Eynsham to Oxford link was profitable, the Witney to Eynsham part of the route was losing money.
Stagecoach said it was coming up with a ‘new package’ in June for the S1, S2 and S7 buses, which are fully commercial and not affected by the OCC cuts. This may also affect all or part of the 11 route.
OCC says it is working on a pilot programme to try and make better use of its own fleet of public service vehicles to pick up some of the service cuts caused by the withdrawal of bus subsidies, but has yet to finalize any details. The county council has a legal duty to provide transport facilities to certain groups such as some schoolchildren. OCC says it is considering providing students with bus passes to ride on public buses which, it says, may make some services more commercially viable.
OCC also has a legal duty to have regard to the transport needs of members of the public such as the elderly or disabled but under the Transport Act 1985 is not obliged to provide subsidised transport services and is entitled to take lack of funds into consideration. The OCC Dial-a-Ride service ended in April 2016.