Oxfordshire’s inaugural bus summit has been hailed a success after bringing together a host of organisations to discuss how to improve public transport in the county.
Layla Moran MP, representatives from Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach, bus user groups, health services, employers and the city’s universities attended the event at the Said Business School on Friday 24 June. Anneliese Dodds MP, who had proposed the summit, was unable to attend due to illness.
Issues up for discussion included fares, ticketing options, coverage, accessibility and ease of understanding of the bus network, journey speeds and reliability, image and public opinion. Industry experts were in attendance, while the audience included representatives from disability and young people’s groups.
Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, gave a presentation about why buses are key to the authority’s commitment to tackling climate change, and making Oxfordshire a greener and fairer county.
She said: “This bus summit was a really important opportunity for us at the county council to get together with the bus operator and other partners across the county – including the health services, universities, and employers – to talk about how we can create a sustainable bus network.
“We want to get people out of their cars and that way we can reduce our carbon footprint quite significantly, and that what this summit was all about.”
The summit was one of a number of measures aimed at helping the bus industry recover from what has been a time of unprecedented pressure, due to COVID-19, uncertainty over government funding, high fuel costs, and a shortage of drivers.
Last month saw the launch of a campaign to encourage people back on to the buses by highlighting the savings they can make, compared to travelling into Oxford by car.
Luke Marion, Interim Managing Director of Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel, said: “Oxfordshire’s inaugural bus summit really helped further educate key stakeholders on the huge opportunity we have in the county to vastly reduce our carbon footprint via improved connectivity and the introduction of net zero bus technology.
“There was a lot of positive energy in the room and it is crucial we continue to work together to deliver our ambitious vision for what could be the UK’s leading electric bus network.”
Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director of Stagecoach West, said: “Being a part of events like the bus summit give me optimism that we are really on the edge of transformation. I’m hopeful that this newly forged partnership will stand strong as we decarbonise our bus network and deliver our shared vision.
“The rest of the UK should watch this space as we drive Oxfordshire into exciting new territory.”