Oxford markets modal shift to bus

Oxfordshire County Council has launched a campaign to encourage modal shift to buses in the county as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

With petrol and diesel prices at record highs, bus operators have calculated huge savings by leaving the car at home:

  • A return journey between Witney and Oxford via Stagecoach S1, five days a week, achieves an annual saving of up to £2,230.30 compared to the car
  • A return journey between Abingdon and John Radcliffe Hospital via Oxford Bus Company’s X3 service saves up to £2,318.23 per year compared to the car

The council is delivering the campaign in partnership with Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel and Stagecoach. Sharing the experiences of bus users and how they have benefited from cost savings will form a key part of the multi-channel campaign.

Woodstock resident Jean Pierre De Rosnay is a hybrid worker who uses a bus to commute to Oxford two or three times a week.The multi-partner campaign, led by Oxfordshire County Council is designed to highlight the financial advantage of taking a bus over a private vehicle, where possible, during the current cost of living challenge caused by rising inflation.

“I used to commute by car but switched to bus travel to save money on parking and fuel,” he said. “It’s cheaper and more convenient and makes a bit of a difference to the environment. Being a hybrid worker, it is a lot cheaper to buy a flexible ticket because I don’t know which days I will work in the office in each week.”

East Hendred resident Sarah James is also a hybrid worker. She said: “I choose to leave the car at home and get the bus into work because it is the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to get into Oxford.

“I commute a couple of days a week and put multi trip tickets on an Oxford Key Smart Card, which is cost effective. I find the bus the cheapest way to come into work because I don’t have to pay for parking and with fuel prices increasing bus tickets are now really good value.”

Margaret Simpson from Cumnor, said: “Currently it isn’t economical to travel into Oxford by car. Buses are a very economical way for people to travel around the county for work and social reasons. Bus services are regular and help reduce congestion and pollution. I do drive a car but I’m increasingly using buses to travel.”

Last week Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet approved its draft enhanced partnership (EP) document for submission to the government. The EP sets out plans by the county council, bus operators and its partners, to help bring passenger levels back to pre-pandemic levels.

Measures that are set to be introduced to help get more people using buses include cheaper fares for under-19s, new rural services, bus priority improvements and traffic filters to reduce journey times. Once the draft EP has been submitted and consulted upon, the final version will be submitted to the government later this year to secure Bus Service Improvement Plan funding of £12.7m to deliver the measures.

Bus passenger levels are currently running at between 75% and 80% of pre-COVID levels. Without improvements and action, including continued government financial support, services may have to be reviewed later this year.

Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “We are committed to ensuring that the bus is a reliable, affordable alternative to the car. That’s more important now than ever as we face this cost of living crisis.

“This council is doing everything in our power to make buses a success. We’re working with the operators to improve punctuality and to make public transport the most attractive and affordable option for getting around the county.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport, Oxford City Council, said: “Buses are really important for getting around our city and many Oxford residents rely on them. Right now, with fuel costs so high saving money is important for all of us, so why not think about making your journey by bus instead? It can save you money, help save the planet and will reduce the number of vehicles on our roads.”

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