New community-led bus service is launched to replace withdrawn Stagecoach service
Villagers have taken providing public transport for isolated residents into their own hands after the axeing of their bus service.
Our Bus Bartons is a new community-led bus service which will operate seven routes from August to replace the S4C service which was withdrawn by Stagecoach in February.
The new service will connect the villages of Middle Barton, Duns Tew, Sandford St Martin, Steeple Barton, Lower Heyford, Glympton, Wootton, Woodstock, Over Worton, Great and Little Tew with Banbury, Oxford, Oxford Parkway rail station and Chipping Norton.
The service will also include health centres in Deddington and Chipping Norton and supermarkets in Chipping Norton and Kidlington.
The S4C service was one of over 100 services to see its subsidies from Oxfordshire County Council removed as part of budget cuts due to reduced central government funding.
The new service, which took seven months to set up, has received support from several parish councils and organisations groups.
Our Bus Bartons scheduler and volunteer driver, Phil Sharman, said: “Our aim is to provide a balanced service between those who need to get to work or college and those who need to get to the doctor or get their shopping done – this service connects people with the necessities of normal life.”
Villager Sheila Tumman, said: “The lack of service was getting dangerous – killing rural life, making people feel isolated and that their independence was being taken away.
“Quite a few villagers have had to stop driving for medical or age related reasons, and this hits them hard. I know people who have been putting off clinical appointments or even left the village because there is no public transport.”
Chair of Our Bus Bartons, Richard Brown, said: “We have trained a small number of volunteer drivers, however we need more to run our services efficiently. Whilst we have been grateful to receive some generous funding we are very keen to receive further financial help however large or small.”
Visit ourbus.co/bartons, email [email protected] or telephone 01869 699699.