Relocation of bus stops : Gipsy Lane

Oxford Brookes and Stagecoach have confirmed that the Gipsy Lane bus stops have been moved due to the roadworks.  Wheatley bound, the stop is nearer the gates to Headington Hill Hall, and City/Harcourt Hill bound it is nearer the entrance to the new Buckley building .

Signs have been put up but passengers are still getting confused.  On a couple of occasions people have been seen jumping the orange barriers, this is not safe, and Oxford Brookes University has asked us to pass on this information to anyone we know who travels on the Brookes bus.

Attention all bus users


The next meeting of the Bus Users’ Forum is scheduled to take place at the Town Hall on Wednesday 11 March.  The venue has changed to accommodate a bigger audience.  There will be an opportunity for all bus users to discuss the bus companies’ plans to move bus stops in line with plans to pedestrianise Queen Street.

We would urge residents from Franklin Road, Woodlands Road, Fortnam Close and the top end of Headley Way to attend this meeting so that we can call for buses to be reinstated along Headley Way.  There will also be an opportunity for Headington residents to lobby for a through route from Headington to North Oxford.

We have been told by the bus companies that they have been working on a joint scheme that will be ready in early March – this may be the first time that the public (and maybe also councillors?!) will learn about it.  The meeting will be some time between 17.30 and 20.30, we will post up timings when we have more information

Bus proposals in County Plan

There seems to be some movement in the County Council’s Transform Oxford proposals on buses. More details can be found on their website but I have copied and pasted an extract below. David and I attended a meeting at County Hall last week and asked some questions about bus services for East Oxford residents that seemed to provoke some irritated comments, and it seemed to me that the public transport proposals for East Oxford are causing considerable concern and re-consideration. I wonder if there is scope in this text for bus routes to operate into Oxford City Centre from East Oxford? See what you think!

So far, we believe that there are three options for achieving a reduction in bus flow in High Street and St Aldate’s:
Re-route certain services that do not necessarily need to use the High Street and St Aldate’s to other routes – for example Abingdon Road or Marston Ferry Road and Banbury Road. Because of the detours involved, this approach may only be appropriate for a limited number of services but will still help us achieve a reduction in bus flows.

Use larger vehicles to serve the routes that feed into the High Street, but reduce the service frequencies – i.e. carry the same number of passengers on fewer, larger vehicles. This could mean significantly fewer vehicles not only in the city centre but throughout the routes into the city from the east.

Use “normal” size buses to serve the routes that feed into the High Street but terminate those buses to the east of the High Street. There are two points where routes converge – at The Plain and at London Place. There appears to be scope at both locations to create an appropriately landscaped terminus. Travel onwards into the city centre would then be by a very high capacity, high frequency (leaving at least every five minutes) transfer bus (some vehicles are available that take almost four full “normal” bus loads) or on foot or, possibly, by a hired bike.

Options 2 or 3, probably in conjunction with option 1, could result in at least a 50% reduction in bus flows in High Street and St Aldate’s.
From a passenger’s perspective, option 1 could mean longer journey times. Option 2 means lower service frequencies but no need to interchange; option 3 maintains high frequency services but means an interchange. Making the options work well for passengers is clearly vital and that will be the focus of our work.

We will consult stakeholders and the public on these options to try to find the right balance between convenience for bus passengers and local environmental improvements.
Because of the huge amount of work involved, we are not expecting to deliver major bus reductions in High Street and St Aldate’s before 2011.

Design of bus shelters

We have had some enquiries about the new bus shelters. These are normally a standard size.
The new bus shelters in London Road in the area around Latimer Road are both
“Mark 1” shelters, which makes them more solid than many other shelters
across the city (i.e. offering more protection than more basic shelters
which are open on 3 sides).

Officers advise us that rain generally comes from a south-west direction. So if a shelter faces south west, it is possible that when it rains, people will get wet even if they’re standing in a shelter. If you think any of the new shelters are letting in the rain, rather than offering protection against the elements, please let us know!

County Council’s city centre plans

Please click here to see the County Council’s plans to pedestrianise the centre of Oxford

I went to a briefing on this tonight. I get the impression that very few people have been consulted. This is

a vision, not a solid immutable blueprint (Keith Mitchell).

Their view of the City Centre is that there are too many buses, dirty
cluttered streets, and poor quality pavement materials

The exemplar of good practice they want to aspire to is the Castle redevelopment

They are aiming for:

  • more pedestrianisation
  • low-emission buses (trams are too expensive)
  • optical registration of bus routes
  • significantly reduced no. buses but the same no. passenger journeys
  • smartcard bus ticketing
  • cleaner streets
  • better pavement materials

The buses from East Oxford via Cowley Road/Iffley Road/St
Clements/Marston Road will turn round at the Plain – that’s the
current thinking. But they will think about extending the route for
through buses from further out if this is not possible. From St
Clements? From Gipsy Lane? From London Road roundabout? From Park
and Ride? That’s all up for debate and the bus companies will have a
big role in sorting this out. But at present they are assuming the
buses from our end of Oxford will turn round at the Plain and will not
diminish in frequency. People will then change onto buses that run through the City Centre

Buses from North Oxford will turn round at a strange new turning place by
the Ashmolean short of the Martyrs’ Memorial, councillors are concerned
this will upset St John’s College

Mr Hugh-Jones (Env/Econ) mentioned talks starting about running a bus service
between Thornhill, the hospitals, and Peartree.

A bendy bus had been superimposed on the presentation slides, it resembled an airport bus for people to stand in, with very few seats. “What about the elderly? What about
people with luggage?” we exclaimed! But the type of bus has not been decided upon yet

Ian Hudspeth and Keith Mitchell seem to think the scheme frees up the options for London buses to depart from other areas of the City. I pointed out that 25%
Tube passengers get on the coach between the Plain and London Road
roundabout, that many Headington residents have bought houses here in
order to access the London buses, and that proprietors of bed and
breakfast accommodation and hotels in Headington had acquired premises
precisely because they were on the main route to London.
I pointed out that the bus companies would be hard to persuade that
their established routes should be changed as they stood to lose a lot
of money, at least initially.

They want to pedestrianise Broad Street and pave it with high quality
materials funded from developer money! (from where? Where can they
develop Broad St.?)

They have no budget for this at present. They are interested in
getting money from the Transport Innovations Fund and they think
they’d be successful, although this would not be enough

Bus stops would move from Queen St to Castle St. and New Road

They will do an audit of cycle racks, then decide where to site new
ones. Lots of concern about the need for cycle routes – The Plain may
become a death trap for cyclists? They would like a rent-a bike scheme as in Barcelona

Phase 1 is putting a non-stopping bus lane down the middle of Queen St
with pedestrian walkways either side.

The plans for consultation are not yet firmed up, but residents will be able to give their views via the County Council. There’s a lot to sort out before plans get as far as that!

Bus shelters – timetable for replacement

You may be interested in the 3 year schedule for replacing bus shelters in Headington. All will have seats, and there is a timetable as follows:

Year 1

Headington Road opp Brookes

Headington Rd outside 192/194

Headington Rd outside 214

Headington Rd outside Girls’ School

London Rd opp No. 25 Dial House

Year 2

Headington Rd opp South Park

London Rd outside outside 133/135 Allen and Harris

London Rd outside 137 Connell’s

London Rd outside 23/25

Windmill Rd adjacent Rock Edge (no existing shelter)

Year 3

London Rd outside 108/110 Marie Curie

London Rd outside 236 Drinks Cabin

The staggering thing I’ve learned about bus-related issues this week is that the County Council pays for the bus stop poles and the timetables, and the City Council pays for the bus shelters. So even though there is information space for the timetables (County) built into the new bus shelters (City), the timetables are still being affixed to the posts (County). Another piece of evidence to support the case for unitary authorities?

Bus services in Headington

David and I had a meeting with Martin Sutton from Stagecoach yesterday evening where we aired the issues you wanted to raise  relating to bus services in Headington. Here’s our report back to you.

  • Buses from Headington to Summertown

Many of you have raised the issue of there not being a direct bus to and from Summertown. We have raised this, in particular suggesting a direct route, without going through the city centre, which would also have the advantaged of helping the residents on the top half of Headley Way to have a bus service again. Martin Sutton told us they have looked into this before and gave a guarantee that Stagecoach would look at this again.

In discussing this and other issues, he clarified some of the economics as Stagecoach see them. They calculate that each bus on the road costs c£180K a year to run, this equates to c£38 per hour, though clearly different types of buses incur different costs. They take as the key indicator for performance is the “average operating speed” of the bus – the higher this is, the higher the cost of the service. The average operating speed of the bus should ideally be between 12 and 18 mph. The average operating speed of the no. 10 has been recorded as low as 8 mph but its usage has improved since the service became more frequent.

  • No 10 bus route

On this, it’s fair to say, there was not a meeting of minds. We explained our long-held concerns about buses going down Osler Rd, causing problems for residents and cyclists, while Headley Way, where residents need a bus, goes unserved. Martin said that previous figures had suggested very few people got on a bus on Headley Way, while taking the bus into the JR by Osler Rd was seen as essential to that service (even though, in our experience, very few people actually use that particular stretch). We’ve heard all that before but what we did get was an agreement that we will be provided with the passenger statistics for this (and other) routes. We have asked for ‘before and after’ figures with reference to the introduction of the National Bus Pass scheme. Residents have also told us that weekend U10 buses on the section from Headley Way to the JR are underused.

  • London buses through Headington

This is a contentious issue locally: some residents have expressed the view that London buses should be re-routed so that they do not run through Headington; others are equally adamant that this bus service is one of the reasons to live in the area. We asked for information about the importance to Stagecoach of having a Headington stop. The latest figures suggest that nearly a quarter of passengers get on the London-bound Oxford Tube between St Clements and London Road  (60% of  passengers have boarded by the time buses reach the Plain, and 83% of passengers have boarded by the time buses reach the London Road roundabout). Clearly, the bus companies would be very reluctant to re-route their buses away from Headington.  What we need to focus on is making sure that they don’t block up the roads, as they sometimes do with the present road layout and some selfish parking by van-drivers.

  • Bays on London Road

Our residents in Windmill Road had asked if the designated bus and taxi parking lanes could be swapped over to make it easier for buses to pull in next to Iceland without having to overtake vehicles. Martin is going to consult his staff about this. This was a helpful meeting for all of us, and we hope to meet again for further discussion.

  • Other useful information

The bus company currently appealing the sum reimbursed to it by the City Council for passengers who are travelling with concessionary passes as part of the National Bus Pass scheme. If the rate of reimbursement is low, there is little incentive for bus companies to extend services in areas where there is a higher percentage of older passengers who use this scheme.

It is possible for bus companies to change routes and times of services providing they give 56 days’ notice to the County Council. It is possible for the County Council to write a condition into a contract for a subsidised route that can enforce two bus companies to tender fares in such a way that a joint ticket scheme can be administered, but problems can arise if the contracts for each of the two companies have separate expiry dates or if the ticket machines on the buses are not of a similar type.

In conclusion, the meeting provided a useful discussion and some helpful information. More importantly, it is part of an on-going dialogue where Stagecoach is left in no doubt of local feeling. We will work to make sure this achieves improvements for local residents over the longer term.