The S9 bus service is good to have for the Wantage & Grove community but in the last 13 years it is taking longer to travel to Oxford (Osney Island/Frideswide Square.
In my April 2023 example during the peak hours, it is taking S9 buses 6 minutes longer than in December 2010. Furthermore, the buses have very little traffic on the Botley road due to the road closure at Osney Island and passengers then have a short 0.3 mile walk to Frideswide Square which takes approximately 6 minutes.
So, a total time of 49 minutes to Oxford Station/Frideswide square.
The same journey by a proposed train from Wantage & Grove Parkway Station according to the 2018 study was around 32 minutes via Didcot Parkway and the onto Oxford Station. Thus, a time saving 17 minutes on current S9 bus journey times including the walking time from Osney to Frideswide Square/Oxford Station.
I will be watching this area with interest as our roads are becoming more congested with the growing population in this area and surrounding areas, especially as some OCC forecasts estimate 42,511 living in this area by 2031 and an estimated 2,000 jobs at Grove Business Park which is within close- proximity of the proposed Parkway station.
Another way of looking at this is cost to businesses and most importantly the employees as an extra 17 minutes over the average working year (211 days) equates to an extra 3,587 minutes multiply this again due to the return journey home 7,174 minutes or an extra 119.5 hours travelling by S9 bus into Oxford or 3 working weeks travelling by bus into Oxford from Grove. If I assume the average living wage for Oxfordshire is £11.35/hour this has a cost of £1,356.33/person.
It’s has been a little difficult for me to find exact data of the community working locations, but some data suggest 64% of our population work outside of Wantage & Grove, with around 36% working in the local area.
So, assuming 3,000 constituents from Wantage & Grove use the train into Oxford, this has an economic saving to community of over £4 million- per year by travelling by train rather than the S9 bus.
It is good bus fares are being supported by the Government, but this is coming at a cost of £200 million to all of us. Yes, it’s good to help households on low incomes but the Government could apply a similar scheme to opening railway stations and putting a cap on rail fares too.