A coalition of local Labour Party councillors across the current Number 16 bus route have expressed deep concerns with Stagecoach and Oxford Bus Company’s recent decision to axe the service from 2nd January 2022.
Four County Councillors and seven City Councillors across Hinksey, Cowley, Littlemore and Donnington have sent two open letters to the bus companies and Oxfordshire County Council detailing the devastating impact of this decision on local people.
Councillors are concerned about the negative consequences for residents from lower income backgrounds, young families, and elderly and disabled residents. Residents consider the service to be a lifeline, relying on it to access Oxford City Centre, Cowley Centre, Hinksey Park and other residential areas, so have created an online petition to prevent the change from going ahead.
Councillor Naomi Waite, Hinksey Park Ward argues: “The number 16 Bus is a crucial service that connects Oxford’s thriving neighbourhoods. Without it, our residents would be cut off from advice centres, baby and community groups, mental health services and specialist homes for the elderly, as well as the flourishing commercial and hospitality centres in East Oxford and Cowley.”
Councillor Tiago Corais, Littlemore Ward, highlights the urgency of the issue as there are no alternative bus services travelling on this route, and the demand is set to increase with plans for more housing in Littlemore.
Councillor Amar Latif, Cowley Ward points to a further environmental consequence of the decision: “At a time when we are encouraging people to stop using their cars for alternative forms of transport, it is counter-intuitive to cut this route, and this decision must be reviewed urgently.”
The way in which the decision has been announced has also been criticised, with Councillor Evin Abrishami highlighting the lack of notices on bus stops to inform residents of the decision and its imminent changes, which could leave vulnerable residents waiting for a service that no longer exists.
County Councillors have called on Stagecoach and Oxford Bus Company to work jointly with Oxfordshire County Council to urgently reverse the decision and include councillors in future reviews and redesigns of bus routes. Councillor and resident input to decisions on routes should be considered central when setting up the new Enhanced Partnership Board.
The two open letters from the council to the bus companies can be viewed here: