Fears that elderly will be hit the hardest by loss of routes

Graham Harris - director of Tex Coaches
Graham Harris - director of Tex Coaches

A bus company that has provided a lifeline to many elderly villagers has been forced to axe all its public transport services.

Tex Coaches, which ran routes serving both Brackley and rural Northamptonshire, stopped its public bus routes on Tuesday.

The Banbury-based company had been running three services – 508 Brackley-Bodicote, T1A Banbury-Bicester and the T2A Brackley Express between Brackley and Banbury.

But the firm, which also runs regular school services and offers coach and car hire, has had to stop its public transport links because it has been making big losses since the services started running commercially two years ago.

Graham Harris, director of Tex Coaches, said: “During these past two years it has lost us about £60,000. In effect, we have been paying to work.”

Mr Harris added that because the majority of the passengers are elderly, they are either buying discounted concessionary fares or have bus passes, which means the firm is making very little money on the average fare.

“We’ve kept it going out of the goodness of our hearts and because we’ve felt so sorry for the people using the services, but it’s just not financially viable and eventually it will impact on our other services,” he said.

The withdrawal of the 508 service means there will be no regular bus service at all to villages such as Helmdon, Greatworth and Sulgrave.

However, they will still be served by Northamptonshire County Council’s County Connect service which operates on a book-as-you-go basis. People call up as and when they require a bus from various pick-up points across the county.

Helmdon resident Bill England said although the County Connect service is very much appreciated by people in the village, it is not always ideal to have to call up and book every time.

Gill Mechen, 72, also a resident of the village, said: “I live on my own and I don’t drive so I rely on public transport or a good neighbour to take me shopping or get to appointments.

“If you need to get to appointments, you’re relying on the County Connect service being able to take you and it’s not always possible.

“The bus service was only every Thursday and Saturday, but even if we got a regular service once a week that would be great.”

A Northants County Council spokesman said it was not prepared to subsidise the routes because it felt there was adequate provision in place.

He said: “The County Connect demand-responsive service was introduced as part of a network review in 2011, which in many cases improved connections with villages.

“This service, along with the number 499 route, now provides a comprehensive service in the Brackley area.”