HomeMeetings > May 26th 2015

OxPA logoMay 26th 2015

An Excellent Bus network for Oxford


For this joint OxPA/Cyclox meeting we were joined by Martin Sutton and Phil Southall, the Managing Directors of Oxford's two bus companies, Stagecoach and the Oxford Bus Company.  Richard Mann gave an introductory presentation showing examples of continental cities that enjoy excellent networks of bus and tram, even when like Oxford, they are restricted by historical city centres. Martin and Phil then took up the challenge of explaining why Oxford has not yet been able to emulate these.  We were told that trams are not a solution in the short term and the looming transport crisis needs a speedier solution. All three speakers agreed on the need to reduce car use, seen as the major cause of bus unreliability, although a frequently voiced comment is that the number of buses contributes to the congestion. 

Since congestion charging has been rejected as making Oxford “commercially uncompetitive”, workplace parking levies could be the most effective contributor to a solution.

The difficulty of cross-city travel was raised, with out-of-centre hubs put forward as a possible solution. School-run congestion could be reduced by shuttle services from peripheral Park & Rides, if schools and Councils were prepared to support and enforce. 

Emissions have been reducing steadily and by 2016 all Oxford’s buses will meet euro5 standards. While there are no obvious quick fixes to many of the problems, modernising ticketing could improve bus times immediately with little outlay and would surely result in increased bus use. 

Overall we were left with the impression that the buses are in good hands, making the best of a difficult job - but many of us were left impatiently waiting for speedier solutions to be implemented. The speakers generously offered to return and update us when some of the projected improvements are in place.