Suggestion for £2.5million bus lane at Cherwell Street


How £56m bus cash would be spent

by Andy Mitchell, Local Democracy Reporter

Oxfordshire County Council is bidding for more than double the government money it might have expected to overhaul bus services. 

The authority is asking for £56.1million to fund its Bus Service Improvement Plan which includes measures to give buses priority over traffic at pinch points, six new mobility hubs and the reintroduction of rural services, including up to eight new buses to be maintained and operated by the council.

More than half the funds – an estimated £31.1million – would go towards creating traffic filters and bus lanes to tackle the delays to services highlighted by travel operators, despite acknowledgement that the county’s allocation would only be £25million for its entire plan when calculated on a pro-rata basis.

A £10million bus lane at Hinksey Hill’s northbound exit to the A34, Oxford, and a £2.5million bus lane at Cherwell Street, Banbury, are among the nine areas suggested for infrastructure change with another £1.5million set aside for improvements to bus stops. 

Councillor Tim Bearder (Lib Dem, Wheatley), cabinet member for highways management, said: “This represents a hugely ambitious bid. 

“Pro rata, Oxfordshire would expect about £25million and this bid is for more than £50million. A lot of that extra money is for infrastructure spend. 

“Fundamentally, this administration is about putting public transport and active travel first and the expensive measures and thinking we are doing is to achieve that goal.”

On the pursuit of funding, Cllr Bearder added: “What this document represents is a real ambition to radically change Oxfordshire’s transport network and I hope the government shares that ambition. 

“As has been alluded to, under previous Conservative administrations the buses in Oxfordshire were slashed, particularly in rural areas.

“Despite what Boris Johnson says, that you will be able to turn up and it will just appear, the money that they are providing is tiny, tiny, tiny in the scheme of things.

“We want to go as far as possible and this document goes some of the way there.”

Mobility hubs, facilities where people can interchange between different modes of transport, are being considered at a combined cost of £1.5million, provision that Councillor Duncan Enright, cabinet member for travel and development strategy (Lab, Witney North and East), believes will be particularly important to delivering on the plans.

“The idea of bringing together transport services, notably buses, in rural and urban areas I hope, will provide a new option for people and may well improve transport availability across the county,” he said.

“This is something that has been tried in various parts of the world and it brings with it the opportunity to try new services as well as improving existing services which is quite exciting.”

The plan will be finalised and submitted to government by the end of October 2021 in the hope of securing a big enough portion of a £3billion pot dedicated to bus services nationally.

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