Thames Travel has launched a new off-peak service between Didcot town centre and the southern neighbourhood of Great Western Park.
The new Connector 97 service operates weekdays with buses running hourly, connecting residents of Great Western Park to Didcot town centre. Additionally, the Connector 98 service from Didcot Parkway to the Great Western Park northern neighbourhood has been extended off-peak to serve the southern neighbourhood every hour.
Thames Travel says services to the northern section of Great Western Park are on track to complete 220,000 passenger journeys annually on current routes. This is a tenfold increase on numbers from five years ago.
The results have bucked a trend reported by the Transport for New Homes Association that new developments like Great Western Park force residents to become car dependent owing to a lack of sustainable transport alternatives.
Phil Southall, Thames Travel managing director, says: “As a result of the positive uptake of our Connector services at Great Western Park we have been continuing to work with Taylor Wimpey to ensure we continue to tailor our service provision to the development expansion where possible. This joined up approach helps ensure transport is fit for purpose for new housing developments and prevents new residents from becoming trapped in car dependency.
“The southern section of Great Western Park is being developed quicker than initially expected and once the infrastructure was in place to allow buses access the area, we increased our services accordingly. We expect Oxfordshire County Council to issue a developer funded tender to provide all day buses to the southern neighbourhood in the future. In the meantime, we are doing what we can with the resources we have to provide an off-peak service between the southern neighbourhood and Didcot town centre and station.”
The initiative builds on Thames Travel’s strategy to innovate and find ways to develop new services for passengers. In 2017 Thames Travel launched the River Rapids service between Oxford and Henley to improve services to destination centres for customers seeking days and evenings out. Last year it launched a weekend night service between Oxford and Didcot, via Abingdon.
PICTURE: MARK BAILEY