‘Stranded’: Hanwell Fields residents upset by bus route changes

Rachel Palmer-Hearn and her son, Christopher and a Stagecoach B10 bus in Winter Gardens Way, Banbury. NNL-171017-164952009

Residents of Banbury’s Hanwell Fields estate are up in arms over bus route changes they say will cut a lifeline for hundreds of people.

The B8 and B10 routes are being axed and replaced by a new B9 service, leaving large areas of Ruscote Estate around Hillview School without stops and residents around Hanwell Fields Primary School with half a mile to walk to a bus stop.

Anyone with difficulties living in the old B10 route area is going to be stranded

Instead the new Hanwell Chase estate on Warwick Road will receive a service until midnight.

Users say hundreds of people will no longer have public transport to school, the station or work in town.

The changes, from November 5, are part of a shake-up by Stagecoach because subsidies from house builder contributions have come to an end and the routes are not commercially profitable.

Rachel Palmer-Hearn said: “I moved here from Manchester a year ago.

“My autistic son had never braved taking a bus alone but he has learned how to get to this bus stop in Winter Gardens Way to get to college in Banbury.

“Training him to a new route is going to take six months and until then I won’t be able to work.

“I don’t drive as I’m epileptic and this bus is a lifesaver. Anyone with difficulties living in the old B10 route area is going to be stranded,” she said.

Another householder said: “My daughter will now have to walk a mile-and-a-half to North Oxon Academy, uphill with a heavy rucksack.

“My son won’t be able to get to the station and I won’t be able to get to work without a half-mile walk at each end.

“There are many people on the morning bus getting their children to school at Dashwood and Banbury Academy.

“The new B9 service is going to run until midnight. Who’ll be using it? Surely it would be better to get people to school and work?”

The mum criticised the changes in the light of a new service between Banbury town centre, past Waitrose and Tesco to the old ‘Hella’ roundabout between 10.15am-3.15pm.

Other changes in Stagecoach timetables include the B5 service through Bretch Hill is to be extended to provide worktime travel to the Ermont Way estate via Middleton Road.

There will also be a new B3 Bodicote circular bus, replacing the B2 to serve Longford Park estate. Two stops in East Street, Bodicote will be lost.

The 6.27am and 7.10am weekday S4 Deddington to Banbury service will leave ten minutes earlier at 6.17am and 7am.

And Stagecoach runs additional early morning journeys from the town centre to Banbury Gateway and Wildmere Industrial Estate on service 500 (Banbury – Brackley).

Service 500 buses departing Banbury Bus Station (Bay 5), at 6.30am, 6.55am, 7.15amand 7.35am, Mondays to Fridays and 7am, 8am, 8.30am, 9am, 9.30am on Saturdays, all divert via Banbury Gateway to take people to work, but this was amended in June.

Stagecoach spokesman Emma Twemlow said: “These changes follow extensive discussions with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) and are at the same time as a number of current OCC contracts are due to expire.”

And Stagecoach said the B9 would run until midnight because that was part of the tender requirement.

The county contracts are funded by obligatory developer contributions paid when new estates are built.

County council spokesman Paul Smith said the length of funding varies.

“Generally we look for eight years from these agreements which is seen as enough time for a service to become commercially viable,” he said.

For timetables see www.stagecoachbus.com. For printed copies email: oxford.enquiries@stagecoachbus.com or call 01865 772250.

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