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Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel and Carousel

About Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel and Carousel

Oxford Bus Company runs a comprehensive network of local bus services in and around Oxford, and coach services from Oxford to central London, and to Gatwick and Heathrow airports. It runs the popular Park & Ride service, connecting five car parks at the edge of the city to the city centre, and the highly successful BROOKESbus network of services in partnership with Oxford Brookes University. Thames Travel and Carousel fall under the management of Oxford Bus Company.

Partnership is at the heart of company's philosophy. An informal partnership with Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council started in 1973, which has served as a model to other operators and local authorities; it has also been one of the most successful in the UK. Bus patronage has grown hugely in that time, and buses now have a modal share of 50% for journeys into the central area.

Buses play a vital role in maintaining the economic success of Oxford within a sensitive historic setting. Oxford Bus Company's contribution to this has been to provide high quality, frequent services operated by attractive buses at value for money prices. To enhance the experience of passengers, more than 85% of vehicles are fitted with air conditioning or air chill equipment. All vehicles are fitted with GPS positioning equipment which allows us to control our services, and gives customers real-time information at bus stops. A survey conducted by Passenger Focus in 2012 revealed 92% of passengers were 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with the Oxford Bus Company, one of the highest passenger satisfaction rates in the UK.

The company has innovated in smartcard technology to make journeys faster, simpler and payment easier. Now around 54% of passengers on local 'city' services pay for their travel in advance.

Oxford Bus has been at the forefront of industry initiatives on the environment. It pioneered the use of particulate traps to improve emissions from diesel engines, and this policy has continued with recent deliveries being to Euro V or the higher EEV standard. An independent study carried out by The TAS Partnership ranks Oxford Bus as having the most environmentally friendly bus fleet in Britain. Its emissions for carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen were the lowest in the study. In 2011, the company took delivery of seventeen hybrid diesel-electric double deck buses which operate all journeys on the famous and pioneering Oxford Park & Ride system. A target for carbon reduction had been set at 20% against 2008 performance and this has now been achieved. At the beginning of 2014, Oxford implemented a Low Emission Zone (LEZ), requiring all scheduled services with a frequency of hourly or higher to be Euro V compliant.

During 2011, the partnership philosophy was extended to embrace other operators as well as local authorities. A pioneering partnership made possible under the 2008 Local Transport Act has allowed services to be coordinated on four corridors between Oxford Bus and Stagecoach, with the approval of Oxfordshire County Council, and smartcard ticketing has been made inter-available between operators. This has resulted in a reduction of up to 25% in the number of buses in some environmentally sensitive streets in central Oxford, whilst service frequency and capacity has been maintained.
After a successful period of operating the BROOKESbus contract from 2009 – 2014, Oxford Bus Company was awarded the contract for a further 5 years.

About Thames Travel
In 2011, Go-Ahead acquired Thames Travel based in Wallingford, Oxfordshire which was placed under the management of Oxford Bus Company. Thames Travel currently operates around 46 buses in the South Oxfordshire and West Berkshire area. Thames Travel is a strong business with a proud tradition of providing high quality services to the local community and operates a mix of commercial bus services and local bus contracts. It was very successful in the latest tender round let by Oxfordshire County Council and the fleet had grown by nearly 25% by 2012.

About Carousel
In 2012, Go-Ahead acquired the small bus business Carousel based in High Wycombe which was placed under the management of Oxford Bus Company. Carousel currently operates around 40 buses in the Wycombe area and runs services to Heathrow Airport, Uxbridge, Chesham, Watford and Hemel Hempstead. The company mainly operates a mix of commercial bus services and school bus contracts.

View the awards of the company

Key Facts

Company Oxford Bus Service
Managing Director Phil Southall
Nature of Business Regional
Geographical Area Oxford
High Wycombe
Express services to:
Central London,
Heathrow and Gatwick
Revenue * £47.7m
Approx Passenger Journeys * 24m
Average number of employees * 761
Fleet size 256 buses

* for the year ended 28 June 2014.

Contact Details

Oxford Bus Company
Cowley House
Watlington Road
Tel: (0) 1865 785 400

Thames Travel
Wyndham House,
Lester Way
Hithercroft Industrial Estate,
Wallingford, OXON,
OX10 9TD
Tel: 01491 837988

Carousel Buses
Unit 2, Hughenden Avenue
High Wycombe
HP13 5SG
Tel: 01494 533436