Dear Bus Users UK supporter
the public is warmly invited to the next Bus Users’ Forum for Oxford, which will be on the evening of Thursday 10th March at Oxford Town Hall. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the meeting to start at 6.30 p.m.
Attached is a .pdf of a poster advertising the Bus Users’ Forum, copies of which have been on display at principal bus stops and one some companies’ buses for the past week. I apologise that it is now too close to the event to print and display further copies. I sent out notices to interested groups a fortnight ago, but then was interrupted by a health problem. Please will you notify either electronically or verbally anyone else who you think may be interested in coming?
As at past Bus Users’ Forums for Oxford, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford Bus Co, Stagecoach in Oxfordshire and Thames Travel have all agreed to provide panellists. They will tell the audience about current developments in Oxfordshire bus services and answer the audience’s questions.
The attached poster states that Arriva the Shires would also be taking part. Normally this would be the case but on this occasion Arriva has had to withdraw. Arriva’s usual representative has a clash of dates on 10th March and had arranged for a colleague to deputise for him, but the colleague is now unavailable due to a family emergency. I apologise to anyone who had hoped specifically to come to ask questions relating to Arriva bus services.
Oxfordshire County Council will represent at the Forum all those bus contractors that operate subsidised services, including Charlton Services, Grayline, Heyfordian, Motts, Red Line, Red Rose, RH Buses, Walters, Whites etc. If the operator of a bus service that concerns you is not listed on the panel, please still come to the Forum as the County Council representative can answer your question.
The County Council also provides most bus stops in Oxfordshire and all realtime information services at bus stops, and can therefore answer your questions about these services.
About 85% of Oxfordshire’s bus services are commercially self-supporting and their future seems secure, but from 2012 they will have to adjust as HM Treasury starts to reduce the Bus Service Operators Grant (a rebate on fuel duty for buses currently that currently repays 80% of the duty paid).
Oxfordshire’s budget for subsidised bus services will be reduced in April 2011. This may require adjustments to some services but I have been assured that so far the County Council hopes to avoid major service reductions or the withdrawal of entire routes.
Also in April 2011 the administration of National Concessionary Travel Scheme bus passes for pensioners and disabled people will be transferred from district councils to the County Council. The scheme will cost Oxfordshire £8.7 million but HM Treasury is providing only
Since our previous Forum in October 2010, the review of subsidised buses in the Witney area has been completed and new contracts have come into operation. The review of subsidised buses in the Thame area has completed its public consultation (to which Bus Users UK Oxford Group contributed) and we await the County Council’s decision on future Thame area services and contractors.
Despite the recession, Oxfordshire’s major bus operators continue to introduce many new buses each year. This ensures that large parts of Oxfordshire continue to have some of the most modern and lowest-emission bus fleets in the UK.
In 2010 the first round of the DfT’s Green Bus Fund helped Stagecoach to introduce 23 electric hybrid buses to Oxford, which emit 30% less
CO2 than equivalent conventional diesel buses and are also significantly quieter. This year the GBF second round will help Oxford Bus Co to introduce 17 electric hybrid buses, which will replace Oxford’s entire Park & Ride fleet.
The County Council will soon start 16 months of roadworks to remodel Iffley Road, extending the northbound cycle lane and undertaking badly needed resurfacing work. Plans to remodel Frideswide Square face an uncertain future after the Comprehensive Spending Review, but both buses and private traffic would benefit if improvements to the current arrangements can be made.
The above are only some of the items of interest that may be discussed at the Bus Users’ Forum. Once all of the panellists have made their brief opening presentations, audience members are free to raise any bus-related matters that concern them. Very likely you will have concerns other than those listed above. The Bus Users’ Forum is one way of getting those concerns heard and answered, so I hope you will consider coming to Oxford Town Hall on the evening of Thursday 10th March.
Thankyou and best wishes
Oxford Group Chairman
bus users UK