Easington welcomes trial bus alternative

The B1 bus in Beaconsfield Road, Easington. Bus route activist, Roger Reynolds, about to get on. NNL-160531-154520009
The B1 bus in Beaconsfield Road, Easington. Bus route activist, Roger Reynolds, about to get on. NNL-160531-154520009

Company will trial the B1 service after subsidised route ends

The elderly population of Easington has had a lifeline restored with news that a private bus company will take over the B1 bus service.

However Go Ride’s takeover of the service, which the estate’s elderly population uses to get to GPs, the hospital and town centre, will be a trial, ending after four months if it is not viable.

Resident Heather Johnston, who moved to Easington in 1970, said: “I’m delighted. Some of the residents here are very elderly and have been here since the bungalows were built in the 1950s and 60s and they depend on the buses.

“I live in St Anne’s Road and am able to walk to the main Oxford Road to catch the S4 Oxford and Deddington bus but many of the residents are not and would be virtually housebound without the bus service.”

Some residents expressed a fear that pensioners may not be able to use their bus passes whch are worth some £260 a year.

But Cllr Keiron Mallon, who represents the estate on the town, district and county councils, said he believed Go Ride would accept the pensioners’ passes.

“I have been in discussion with Go Ride , the county council and other bus operators for some time now and this is the product of our discussions.

“It’s good news for the people of Banbury and an example of taking the initiative to deliver a positive result despite adversity.

“The new service will be operated by Go Ride and we hope it will be a success.

“Many of my constituents in Easington do not have an alternative to access the town or its services and I thank Go Ride for realizing the potential of the B1. But this is a trial; it will be a case of use it, make the trial a success, and hopefully we won’t lose it.”

Mr Mallon said he believed the service would be from Monday to Friday from 9pm - 5pm.

Roger Reynolds, of St Anne’s Drive, who helped collect signatures for a petition to save the B1 when Oxfordshire County Council and Stagecoach announced the subsidy for the service would end, said he hoped the elderly residents would not lose their right to bus passes.

Services saved - at least in the short term - since the announcements are the Hanwell Fields and Bodicote buses.

The news of the saving of the B1 service came as Cherwell District Council chairman Cllr Barry Wood said creating a ‘green and sustainable district’ for residents of Cherwell would be hampered if bus services across the area are reduced.

Numerous bus services will being ended or reduced after July 20 after Oxfordshire County Council removed subsidies as part of its attempt to make budget cuts.

Cllr Wood, spoke of his frustration at being unable to influence decisions taken outside the area that have a direct impact on the residents of Cherwell.

He said: “Oxfordshire currently has a two-tier council system which means some services are provided by district councils and some by the county council. Cherwell has no power to influence the decision on county council services, such as bus provision but these decisions will impact our residents, particularly the elderly and those living in rural areas who rely on bus transport.

“One of our four strategic priorities is to create a clean and green district with sustainability at the heart of it.

“The reduction of bus services goes against our message to promote sustainable public transport by forcing people back into their cars which will lead to increased congestion, pollution and carbon emissions, all of which impact on health and the environment.”