Thames Travel to take over shuttle service

Milton Park, a science and technology community in Oxfordshire, has partnered with Go-Ahead-owned Thames Travel to provide its shuttle bus service. It sees Thames Travel take over the contract from Courtney Coaches. Drivers working on the service with the current operator have been invited to join Thames Travel when it takes it over.

The service runs between Didcot Parkway and the Park, and with additional funding from Oxfordshire County Council, provides an increased number of fast bus services from Oxford and Wantage to the Park and more areas within Didcot. The new contract will commence in January 2021 and will offer Milton Park’s occupiers further travel options with more frequent buses between the train station and the Park, longer operating hours to suit new and differing work patterns as a result of Covid-19 and unlimited free bus use all year round to Didcot Parkway. Currently three shuttle buses operate between 7am and 7pm running every 10 minutes at peak times and 15 minutes off peak. The new service will operate between 6am and 11.30pm and offer a peak time frequency bus every eight minutes and ten minutes off peak.

The extended local bus service will see additional services from Oxford and Wantage with buses every 30 minutes, rather than every hour, and a new faster route to and from Wantage and Grove. The partnership will also include an app to help people know about when their bus will be available and estimated arrival time.

There will be 22 ultra-low emission Euro VI buses on these routes and will also have wifi, USB charging points, contactless ‘free flow’ tap in and out machines and fare caps so people are always charged the cheapest fare.

Phil Southall, MD, Thames Travel, said: “To have been awarded the new contract with Milton Park to provide frequent shuttle bus services to the park from Didcot Parkway Rail Station makes us very proud. This new partnership has also allowed us to connect Milton Park directly with East Oxford and Headington’s Life Sciences District, provide more local and later connections within Didcot and to surrounding villages, and provide a new, faster link to Wantage within our ‘Connector’ brand of services.

“The significant investment that MEPC is making in the new contract will be supplemented by further funding we have been able to obtain from local housing developments in Didcot’s Garden Town with helpful assistance from Oxfordshire County Council.

“All of this will ensure that Milton Park will now have unrivalled direct bus connections to a wider range of places, with faster journey times, improved ticketing options and more frequent services, to make travelling to the park by bus easier and better than ever to encourage more sustainable travel. Around 15 new jobs will be created at our Didcot depot to operate these new services and we very much look forward to working with Milton Park on achieving its sustainable travel ambitions and its 2040 Vision.”

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