Milton Park, one of the leading science and technology communities in Oxfordshire, has partnered with Thames Travel to provide its new shuttle bus service between Didcot Parkway and the Park, and, alongside additional funding from Oxfordshire County Council, lay on more fast bus services from Oxford, including the East of the city and Headington’s Life Sciences District, and Wantage to the Park and more areas within Didcot to benefit the Park’s occupiers, its visitors and the local communities.
The new contract will kick off in January 2021 and will offer Milton Park’s occupiers further travel options with more frequent buses between the train station and the Park, longer operating hours to suit new and differing work patterns as a result of Covid-19 and unlimited free bus use all year round to Didcot Parkway, therefore making people’s commute easier.
Currently three shuttle buses operate between 7am and 7pm running every 10 minutes at peak times and 15 minutes off peak. The new service will operate between 6am and 1130pm and offer a peak time frequency bus every eight minutes and 10 minutes off peak.
Due to the investment from MEPC, Milton Park will continue to offer an annual £20 bus pass for its occupiers from Didcot Parkway, but will also now extend this to the whole of a new “Didcot Zone” which covers Great Western Park as well as other areas around Didcot town. This subsidised pass will entitle Milton Park occupiers to unlimited free bus use all year round. There will be two Milton Park-branded buses dedicated to the route through the Park and will all clearly state that they are stopping at the Park.
The extended local bus service will see additional services from Oxford and Wantage with buses every 30 minutes, rather than every hour, and a new faster route to and from Wantage and Grove. The partnership will also include an app to help people know about when their bus will be available and estimated arrival time.
There will be 22 ultra-low emission Euro VI buses on these routes and will also have WIFI, USB charging points, contactless ‘free flow’ tap in and out machines and fare caps so people are always charged the cheapest fare.
Phil Southall, managing director, Thames Travel said: “To have been awarded the new contract with Milton Park to provide frequent shuttle bus services to the park from Didcot Parkway Rail Station makes us very proud.
“The significant investment that MEPC is making in the new contract will be supplemented by further funding we have been able to obtain from local housing developments in Didcot’s Garden Town with helpful assistance from Oxfordshire County Council.
Veronica Reynolds, sustainable travel advisor, Milton Park said: “Bus travel between Milton Park and the station and other areas of Oxfordshire is integral to our sustainable travel 2040 Vision ambitions to support vital local services.
“Following consultations with our Milton Park Travel Forum, which consists of representatives from most of the major businesses on the Park, it was clear that more comprehensive bus services were a priority for many of our occupiers and key workers.”
The new contract will replace the current shuttle bus contract which is held with Courtney Coaches.
Phil Southall added: “Any current Courtney Coaches driver working on the Milton Park shuttle service will be offered the opportunity to join Thames Travel and we look forward to welcoming them into our business.”
Subject to approval by the County Traffic Commissioner, the new timetables are due to be published in December 2020.