The Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel are set to temporarily reduce services as part of its response to the fast-moving COVID-19 pandemic.
It is currently analysing services and plans to adjust timetables on several routes to better match service provision to demand.
The industry, which transports more people than all other forms of public transport combined, is determined to maintain a network throughout this unprecedented decline in bus and coach use, in particular to ensure that essential workers such as NHS staff, teachers and those in the food supply chain are able to get to work.
The review will seek to maintain services during peak hours to support people travelling to schools, hospitals, supermarkets and places of work but many services will move to an ‘enhanced Saturday or Sunday’ type service.
The review follows a significant drop in patronage and will lead to a reduction in the operational need for drivers and associated staff during the COVID-19 crisis. Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel are in constructive talks with union representatives regarding pay, leave and sick pay.
As part of the review there has already been a reduction in the number of vehicles in operation on the demand responsive PickMeUp service.
Public Health England has advised that public transport is the same as any other public space, and the current Government advice is that people are able to continue to use public transport if required. While schools remain open, we continue to provide a service and will be monitoring the situation constantly.
Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel are maintaining extensive cleaning regimes and high levels of hygiene to protect the health and well-being of passengers and colleagues. The regimes are carefully monitored, and we are ensuring a greater focus on high-touch areas. Staff who can work from home are being supported to do so.
Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel Managing Director, said: “We are all living through an unprecedented crisis and as a group of companies we are focused on the welfare of our colleagues and customers, providing a relevant service, and preserving the future of the business.
“We have communicated high level hygiene regimes to our colleagues and continue to provide up to date health information. Additionally, we are taking care of our colleagues’ health and well-being by listening to their concerns and responding quickly, effectively and passionately. This extends to our partners and customers.
“Due to a significant, sudden and unsustainable drop in passenger numbers we are reviewing all services and will introduce changes designed to match supply to demand and to protect the long-term future of the business for everyone.
“We will announce the changes later this week ahead of introducing them. We apologise for the short notice, but this is a fast-moving situation that requires fast action. We will monitor throughout and maintain communication with staff, partners and customers, should further changes to services be required.
“We understand there is a lot of concern and uncertainty and we’d like to reassure our colleagues and customers that we are doing all we can to uphold safety, important services, and the future of the business. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their understanding at this uncertain time for us all.”
The Oxford Bus Company has kept the people of Oxford moving since 1881. Our services now span the width and breadth of Oxford and also take passengers to Heathrow and Gatwick Airports. In addition, our City Sightseeing Oxford hop-on, hop-off open topped bus company provides enjoyable tours of Oxford. And our sister companies, Thames Travel and Carousel Buses provide convenient travel services across South Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire respectively.