Bus routes through the City Centre to North Oxford

Further to our earlier post about the Oxford Bus Company bus routes through the City, I now have a response from Stagecoach to share with Headington residents, as follows:

“We split the direct service between Headington and Kidlington last in April last year, principally because it was impossible to run it reliably through the city centre. If delays occurred on one leg of the route, they would inevitably have an impact on the other. the effect of the Green Road roundabout reconstruction was disasterous for reliability, and, in the knowledge that other schemes were on the horizon, we decided that the only option was to split the service in two. Whilst I realise that this has caused inconvenience to many people and regret this, there is little prospect of restablishing the though service.

There are major road works schemes on both London Road and through Summertown at present together with work in St Aldates. The Westgate development, when it goes ahead, will cause further disruption to services. I regret to say that, whilst I would not rule out the prospect of a return to a through service at some point in the future, there is little prospect for one at present. “

Bus services Barton-Headington- City Centre – N Oxford


I recently received an email from Manager Stefan Soanes of the Oxford Bus Company concerning an issue raised by a Headington resident about the difficulties faced by elderly people and those with mild mobility problems who find it awkward to transfer buses in the City Centre when travelling from Headington to Summertown.

I’ll post this reply up because it explains the rationale behind the move to split the former no. 2 route, and because it is interesting to note the statistics that he quotes:

“Traditionally the service from Barton/Headington to Oxford was linked to
the service that operated between Oxford and Kidlington, which was
numbered 2 and provided a through service from the North to the
Headington/Barton area.

The pedestrianisation of Cornmarket Street meant this service no longer
had the direct path through Oxford city centre to get from the High
Street to St Giles. Instead, the service made it’s way around the bus
priority system to the south and west of the centre before heading
north. This added additional time and mileage into the service.

I am sure you do not need me to tell you about the traffic congestion
leaving Oxford along the London Road through Headington. This increased
to the point that we could no longer operate a reliable service between
Oxford and Headington/Barton. However, the knock on effect was that the
‘linked’ part of the service to the North of the city would also be
adversely affected.

The route from Kidlington to Barton traveled through many traffic
hotspots and we were faced with the need to add more resources to the
route just to stand still and combat such traffic congestion.

Therefore, in order to operate as reliable service as we possibly can to
both areas the decision was taken to curtail both services in the city
centre with no through facility. We did not take this decision lightly;
survey work prior to the change found only 6% of passengers made the
through journey.

The outcome of this is that the residents of both Headington and North
Oxford have a more reliable bus service as congestion on one leg does
not affect the other service. Indeed the service 7 was curtailed in the
same way due to a further worsening of congestion since our service 2
was split.

I think as with most things, changes will affect some more than others.
It could be said that the benefits of having a reliable bus service for
94% of our passengers outweigh the fact that there is no through service
for the other 6%. However if there is a social need for public
transport that cannot be provided by commercial operation, the County
Council is empowered under the 1986 Transport Act to offer a tender for
such a service. It may therefore be worth approaching Allan Field at
the County as to whether this could be viable. ”

All comments welcome, just press the Comment? button above….

Bus tickets and fare stages

Oxford City Council Concessionary Travel Scheme  Concessionary bus passengers are often concerned that zero-value concessionary tickets issued to them by bus drivers appear to mis-state the actual destination of the passenger. Passengers may be worried that the Council will be “over-charged” for the journey made, and have regularly raised this concern with elected members and Council staff.  The fact is that with the Council’s present arrangements for reimbursing bus operators, there is not a direct relationship between the length of a passenger’s journey and the payment that the bus operator receives for carrying that passenger. So it makes no difference to the operator – or to the Council – if drivers accurately record concessionary passenger destinations, or do not. The key thing is to ensure that drivers accurately records all concessionary zero fare journeys as such, and that no fare paying passengers are recorded as making a concessionary journey. 

Accurate estimation of the fare revenue that the operator would receive from concessionary passengers if there was no concessionary scheme is a very complex and controversial topic, in which practical considerations are as important as theoretical accuracy. Estimates of the fare that would be paid for concessionary journeys is only one aspect of this. The method used by the City Council uses the average cash fare actually paid by non-concessionary passengers as a proxy for the average fare that would be paid by concessionary passengers in the absence of the scheme. This avoids the practical problems of having to accurately record the actual destinations of all concessionary passengers. It means that errors in recording concessionary passengers have no impact on the amount of reimbursement received by operators.  Other concessionary travel schemes do use the destinations stated by passengers to estimate the fare, but the accuracy of this method relies upon both passengers precisely identifying where they are alighting, and accurate recording of this by the driver. It should be noted that it will often be the case that the alighting stage recorded by the driver will not be the same as the destination stated by the passengers. This does not necessarily imply an error on the part of the driver. The reason is that fares may not vary between alternative alighting stops – indeed, in

Oxford, there are very few distinct fares, so that the same fare is charged for a very large number of specific bus stop to bus stop journeys. So there is no need for drivers to record the precise destination – and if the driver was require do so, this would significantly slow down bus operations and make all passengers’ journeys slower. The conclusion is that concessionary passengers should not be concerned if their zero-fare ticket shows a different alighting point to that stated to the driver. It does not imply that the Council will get charged more for the concessionary journey, and in any case is quite likely not to reflect any error on the part of the driver.

Amendment about bus services

I have proposed the following amendment to the core strategy for discussion at full Council tomorrow, and thought I should explain a little about why I’ve done it. The amendment is:

I would like to propose that the following paragraph is inserted into the document just above Policy CS16

“Some existing residential areas currently have poor or infrequent public transport accessibility to key local services (such as a District centre), relative to other parts of Oxford. The City Council will work with its partners to improve bus services to such areas, particularly where this will support regeneration or social inclusion.”

There is already some mention of improving bus links between the proposed district centres, and this will strengthen our case for improving bus links between Headington and Summertown. However, having served on the North East Area Committee and having canvassed across the North East of the city, I recognise that areas like Risinghurst get a poor deal when it comes to bus services in the evenings and at weekends.

Another reason for proposing this amendment is to make sure that areas like Iffley, with a high percentage of elderly residents, stand a chance of getting a regular bus service out of the village. It will also help estates like Rose Hill get a regular bus service to its local primary district centre Templars Square – the new district centres will offer employment, amenities and shops so it’s important that residents in outlying estates with high levels of socio-economic deprivation have public transport to these key local services.

Programme of construction work on the London Road

The Site Agent for Oxfordshire Highways has contacted residents living near the London Road to let them know the schedule for roadworks. I thought it would be useful to reproduce this information below.

North side from Pullens Lane to Headley Way 21 July – 20 October 2008

  • diversion of underground services
  • carriageway widening
  • drainage works
  • reconstruction and re-paving of the footways
  • installation of new traffic signs

North side from Headley Way to Osler Road 21 July – 13 October 2008

  • diversion of underground services

North side from Headley Way to Osler Road 18 August – 17 November 2008

  • carriageway widening
  • drainage works
  • resonstruction and re-paving of the footways
  • installation of new traffic signs
  • preparation work for changes to traffic signals

South side from Brookside to opposite Pullens Lane 20 October – 11 December 2008

  • diversion of underground services
  • carriageway widening
  • drainage works
  • reconstruction and re-paving of the footways
  • installation of new traffic signs
  • preparation work for changes to traffic signals

South side from New High Street to Brookside 17 November – 19 Jan 2009

  • diversion of underground services
  • carriageway widening
  • drainage works
  • reconstruction and re-paving of the footways
  • installation of new traffic signs
  • preparation work for changes to traffic signals

Oxford Brookes University public space area 18 December – 13 January 2009

  • installation of new kerbing
  • drainage works
  • installation of high quality paving materials on the footways
  • re-positioning and upgrading of the Pelican crossing outside the Gipsy Lane Campus
  • installation of new traffic signs

Headley Way to Osler Road 19 January – 9 February 2009

  • installation of traffic lights and pedestrian islands
  • re-surfacing of the road
  • installation of new road markings

Pullens Lane to Headley Way 26 January – 23 February 2009

  • installation of traffic lights and pedestrian islands
  • re-surfacing of the road
  • installation of new road markings

Regular scheme updates will be posted on the County Council’s website

The Oxfordshire Highways Enquiry Line is 0845 310 1111

Improved bus service from Headington to Cherwell School

I have just been informed of the following improvement brought about by successful lobbying of the County Council by the parent of a Cherwell student who lives in Headington.

RH Transport, who run the 700 between the JR and Water Eaton have agreed to run the 0805 service from the JR via Summertown, i.e. along Marston Ferry Road, to reach Cherwell by 0820. This should help those pupils who come from Headington and Marston to Cherwell. Until now that service has used the ring road instead to avoid congestion – but this should not be such a problem in that direction at that time.

Time to review residents’ parking zones?


The County Council says it will carry out regular reviews of residents’ parking zones. One has just been completed in West Oxford.

Isn’t it time that our RPZs were reviewed in Headington? That’s what residents in New Headington are telling David and me.

We shall be working with residents’ associations to push for action on this.

Why should residents have to pay to park their cars outside their own homes?

Why are some zones 24/7? Is this unfair for residents living in busy areas?

Why should residents in 24/7 areas have to pay for passes for every visitor to their homes?

Tell us what you think!

Old Road cycle route

At a meeting of stakeholders this morning at Cheney School, many people expressed frustration that developer money still had not been spent to improve cycling routes in this area.

There was widespread support for a 20 mph speed limit on Old Road, possibly enforced by a time over distance speed camera.

Another suggestion was made to remove the central white line from the middle of the road which reduces the sense of certainty that encourages drivers to speed.

Everyone wanted to support Cheney School’s cycling to school policy.

The suggestion to put in speed cushions or raised tables was not so popular.

Another suggestion was to enable cyclists to bypass the queue at Windmill Road junction by using a cycle track painted on the footway which would drop away to the advanced stop line marked on the road.

County officers were asked to look into ways of obtaining extra funding for improvements along this busy stretch of road which serves the Churchill Hospital, Cheney School, the University of Oxford, and Oxford Brookes University.