Issue 45 — December 1999
Reprieve for the Jericho bus
Jericho's bus service was rescued in the nick of time by the County Council.
The Jericho service was making a loss and the Oxford Bus Company was unwilling to maintain it beyond October without a subsidy. Following sustained lobbying from local residents and city councillors, the Environmental Committee of the County Council eventually found some cash and put the service out to tender.
Several companies made bids, including the Oxford Bus Company. But the most economical bid came from Thames Travel, a small company established in 1998 to provide services in the Wallingford area. It already had an Oxford-Henley service, and simply extended this to Jericho.
Though the service is now less frequent - once an hour - in some respects it is better. Jericho bus enthusiast John Radford points out that we can now ride on "a Mercedes four-ton Plaxton wide-bodied 30-seater midi-bus. Up to six of these whisper-quiet vehicles are on the route at any one time. And the centre aisle is wide enough to push a loaded four-wheeled shopping trolley right to the back". Since the same bus continues on to Henley, Jericho residents now have the option of a scenic onward journey. And of course the respectable citizens of Henley can now explore the urban jungle of Jericho. The contract involves a subsidy of £36,000 per year until April 2002. But that does not mean we are secure until then.
The contract can be cancelled on three months' notice by either party. The bus company could say, for example, that its costs had become too high - though that is unlikely for the next year or two. A greater danger is that the County Council may not be able to continue the subsidy for three years. In either case, the best way to secure the service is for as many people as possible to use it.