Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Not-for-profit company to replace bus services

A COMMUNITY interest bus company wants to run a new Sunday service serving Benson to replace routes cut by Thames Travel.

Mike Ward, director of Reading-based Going Forward Buses, is seeking support to run the not-for-profit service after cuts to Thames Travel’s 136 and 139B routes, which both serve the village.

Benson Parish Council is considering supporting the service.

Vice-chairman Jon Fowler told a council meeting: “Going Forward Buses is looking for potential funding from parish councils to pick up the service from Thames Travel.

“It doesn’t mention anything about figures but I think it’s looking for an in principle statement that we as a parish council might support it funding wise.”

He suggested inviting Mr Ward to a council meeting to answer questions.

Councillor Rob Jordan suggested that Thames Travel had cut the services because people didn’t use them and so they were not profitable.

The 136 service has been revised due to a reduction in funding from the Cholsey Meadow housing development. The company has withdrawn the “lightly used” evening service but says the Monday to Friday school and peak time journeys will remain largely unchanged.

The 139 service has  been replaced by the new X38 service which runs hourly between Oxford and Henley every day except Sunday.

Meanwhile, from Monday Going Forward Buses is increasing the number of journeys it runs on the new 137 Wallingford to Watlington service, which goes via RAF Benson and Ewelme.

It is also increasing the days it operations to three — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — instead of Tuesdays only. 

The two return journeys each day will be increased to three, with a new service leaving Wallingford at 2.40pm.

This means it will be possible for passengers to reach many more places by changing buses at Wallingford. 

Mr Ward said: “We have been impressed by the support we have had for the current Tuesdays-only service, so we have the confidence to try expanding the service. 

“We hope that the new service will go at least part way to filling the gap left by Thames Travel’s recent withdrawal of off-peak services to Watlington.”

The 137 service has also been rebranded “Midsomer” in an attempt to attract tourists visiting the area as many of the towns and villages in the area have been used as locations for the popular ITV drama series Midsomer Murders. 

The day return fare from Watlington to Wallingford costs £6 (singles and intermediate fares are also available, children aged five to 15 travel at half fare). Concessionary pass holders can travel free on all services after 9am and the company receives reimbursement for every such journey made.

To see the new timetable, visit www.goingforwardbuses.com

• A new bus service between Henley and Oxford has been launched by Thames Travel. The “River Rapids” X38 route, which goes via Wallingford, runs 12 times a day, Monday to Saturday. The company has refurbished nine of its buses for its “River Rapids” routes, which include the X39 and X40. Each bus has free 4G wi-fi, baggage racks and contactless payment systems. Day tickets start at £6 and a £15 family ticket (two adults and up to three children) provides unlimited day use.

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