Elderly villagers making the most of new shopping bus to Banbury

Shopping bus passengers with Aynho Parish Council clerk Chris Wilson and the bus driver in Aynho
Shopping bus passengers with Aynho Parish Council clerk Chris Wilson and the bus driver in Aynho

Elderly residents in villages left without a bus by cuts have been making the most of a fortnightly service organised by the parish councils.

The cancelling of the 499 bus earlier this year meant Aynho and King’s Sutton villagers had no public transport available so councillors decided to do something about it.

All aboard! Off to Banbury they go.

All aboard! Off to Banbury they go.

Their solution is to use special needs school buses from 10am to 2pm once a week for King’s Sutton and fortnightly for Aynho.

Passengers are then taken to Banbury and can be dropped off wherever they like, be it the doctors’ or Morrison’s, before being picked up in the afternoon.

Doris Grant, from Aynho, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful, it makes such a difference, at least we can get out and go to a shop which we can’t do here.”

Some residents shared a taxi for £30 after Northamptonshire County Council scrapped the 499 service in the wake of its financial collapse.

Shopping bus passengers with Aynho Parish Council clerk Chris Wilson in Aynho

Shopping bus passengers with Aynho Parish Council clerk Chris Wilson in Aynho

But now they can use the shopping bus for £5 return which saves them a lot of money each week.

When the Banbury Guardian visited today, Friday, six pensioners were picking it up outside The Cartwright Hotel in Aynho, but the accessible bus can seat up to 15 people as well as strollers.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Comet service provides the buses and drivers, who are very friendly, helping passengers get onboard, putting their strollers away and organising the stops.

Aynho Parish Council clerk Chris Wilson said the bus is currently paying for itself and will continue until the end of the year at least, but thinks it will go on for longer – a decision to be made by the councillors.

“When you had a bus that comes six times a day and go to nothing it leaves a lot of people stranded,” he said.

“We’ve got eight almshouses and all of them are non-drivers, three of them were dependent on it and used to use it daily, so when you’ve had something like that goes it’s not good, specially as it’s a social thing too.

"So we thought we would run this with King’s Sutton Parish Council and see what happens.”