A bus company that has provided a lifeline to many elderly villagers has been forced to axe all its public transport services.
Banbury-based Tex Coaches stopped its public bus routes on Tuesday.
The company had been running three lines – Brackley-Bodicote, Banbury-Bicester and the Brackley Express between Banbury and Brackley. But the firm, which also runs regular school services and offers coach and car hire, has had to stop its public transport links because it has been making big losses since the services started running commercially two years ago.
Graham Harris, director of Tex Coaches, said: “During these past two years it has lost us about £60,000. In effect we have been paying to work.”
Mr Harris added that because the majority of the passengers are elderly they are either buying discounted concessionary fares or have bus passes, which means Tex Coaches is making very little money on the average fare.
“We’ve kept it going out of the goodness of our hearts and because we’ve felt so sorry for the people using the services, but it’s just not financially viable and eventually it will impact on our other services,” he said. He added all passengers have said they would be happy to pay the full ticket price just to keep the services going but this will not be possible as it is illegal to ask concessionary customers for additional money.
Mr Harris said he has approached both Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire county councils but has been unable to secure any funding.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said it was not prepared to subsidise the routes because it felt there was adequate provision in place. He said: “The entire network was reviewed in 2011 with some routes maintaining a subsidy and others being taken on on a fully-commercial basis. The County Connect demand responsive service was also introduced, which in many cases improved connections with villages.
“This service, along with the number 499 route, now provides a comprehensive service in the Brackley area.”
Oxfordshire County Council said it had never been formally approached by Tex Coaches for a subsidy but added if a bus company withdraws a commercially operated service, it would consider subsidising a replacement service.