Oxford Bus Company has decided to discontinue the 4C service that runs between Dean Court and Wood Farm, from 26 Jan 14.
From what Mr Southall, Operations Director for Oxford Bus Company, says here, I expect radical improvement in reliability of the 4, 4A and 4B buses. I also fear we dare not complain about their services, or they will cancel the other routes.
The North Hinksey Parish Clerk, Alan Stone, provided this letter he got from them.
Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 16:04:39 +0000
Subject: Re: 4C Bus Service
Dear Mr Stone
There are no changes happening to service 4 until 26 January 2014. At the moment I have notified the local Councillor for the area so that she is aware of our plans in advance of wider publicity. A press release has now also gone out in the Oxford Mail and The County Council is also aware of our plans. We have put notices on the buses and at bus stops to inform people in more detail about the changes. Timetables will also be available from tomorrow.
Coming to the reasons for the change, I have received a lot of complaints about the reliability of service 4 over the last twelve months so my team has reviewed where the problems are happening, at what times and what can be done to try and resolve them. Whatever we do with the service the increasing congestion on the Botley Road and getting through the City Centre are always going to be key challenges on the route. All we can do for these elements is to review what the average running time is an adjust the time- tables accordingly and we have done this for the new timetable at certain times of the day.
However, in addition to the above the two other main problems identified have been:
1) Buses getting stuck at Wood Farm due to inconsiderate parking.
2) Buses on the Botley side of the city having a different experience on each trip as one bus an hour goes to Dean Court, two buses an hour go to Cumnor on an uneven frequency - one of which extends to Abingdon and three buses per hour terminate at Elm's Rise. This means that buses run together more often than we would like when delays occur.
To resolve point 1) we will be changing the route in Wood Farm.
To resolve point 2) I plan to revise service 4 to serve Elm's Rise every 20 minutes and Cumnor every 20 minutes (with one an hour extending through to Abingdon) giving the co-ordinated service every ten minutes from where service 4A joins Cumnor Hill at Arnold's Way. Unfortunately this means that Oxford Bus Company will no longer be serving Dean Court and the service 4C service variant is being withdrawn. The patronage on this section of route is much lower than on the other sections.
What this means for Dean Court residents is that those living closer to the north of the area can walk through to Cumnor Hill and receive a bus every 10-minutes into Oxford on services 4/4A. Those living towards the south of the area will have to use the frequency Stagecoach services that stop on Eynsham Road. All stops are within 400m, the 'acceptable' walking distance that planners use when looking at services and as is laid down by Central Government. It is not true to say that all the issues are at the other end of the route.
I can assure you that these changes have been made to try and improve the reliability of service 4 overall. I do appreciate that residents of Dean Court may not be happy with the changes but when planning services we have to cater for lots of conflicting demands whilst trying to keep services a simple proposition for our customers.
I should also point out that when an operator makes a commercial decision that they cannot provide a service in any given area, there is a statutory obligation on Oxfordshire County Council to assess if there is a 'social need' for a replacement service and I would encourage you to contact them to see what the outcome of this decision is.
I'm afraid that this decision cannot be reversed as we have given the statutory 56 days notice to the Traffic Commissioner to change the service.