A BUS operator will cut back some its services after rivalry with another company made them unsustainable.
Oxford Bus Company will ‘trim back’ some of its services between Oxford and Woodstock, following competition on the route with Stagecoach. Its managing director said the number of passengers available in the early mornings and evenings was not enough to support two operators.
Reaction to the news has been mixed, with one councillor describing residents’ disappointment after having their hopes raised by the influx of new buses.
OBC extended its 500 service to run from Oxford train station to Woodstock last December. It formerly ran from Oxford train station to Oxford Parkway station.
Then, a month later, Stagecoach introduced its Gold 7 service, which runs from Oxford city centre to Woodstock, stopping at Oxford Parkway.
Now, just four months after it was launched, OBC’s 500 services have had to be trimmed to remain sustainable.
The company’s managing director Phil Southall said: "The 500 extension to Woodstock is an important commercial service for us, however the number of passengers available simply does not support two operators in the evening so we have made the regretful decision to trim back some of the quieter early morning and evening trips.”
The services will be cut as of April 23. It will continue to operate up to every 15 minutes during the day.
Meanwhile, Stagecoach, which also said the situation was unworkable in the long term, is reviewing the results of a recent consultation to work on a revised timetable.
Karen Coventry, Stagecoach's business development manager, said: "We are in the process of reviewing the helpful and positive comments received following our passenger consultation and analysing the results to work on a revised timetable and routing opportunities for the S3 and 7 services to Woodstock.”
Woodstock Town Councillor Sharone Parnes was let down by OBC's announcement.
He said: "Clearly operators like Oxford Bus Company have to make commercial decisions, but it’s disappointing because the recently expanded bus services to Woodstock raised the hopes of many people.
"Like with elections in a democracy, it’s great when people have options to choose from, and for bus passengers, competition can also be an important factor in more reliable services, and lower fares."
Claire Harris from Woodstock described the services as 'invaluable' but said she could understand OBC's decision.
She said: "It is frustrating they all come at the same time rather then staggering the services over the hour.
"The services via Parkway are invaluable. Not only for London but also to link with the 700 service to the hospitals. It means I can leave the car at home for my commute too.
"I can see why they want to reduce the service. Perhaps it can be reviewed if and when we get more housing."
Woodstock resident Alison Hignell added: "Great service, but they need to talk to each other and spread times out."
A single journey from Oxford Parkway to Woodstock costs £2.60 on both services.
To view OBC's updated timetable visit bit.ly/2pcnoMC