BUS services in Witney have been labelled a “farce” after passengers were left stranded due to overcrowding.
Go Ride, which took over Stagecoach services at the start of the month, have had to call taxis as its 16-seat buses could not fit enough people on board.
The Abingdon-based not-for-profit operator has now promised to add two additional services after complaints from passengers.
Jess Neill, who lives in the Madley Park estate with her husband Alex, said she has been left stranded on about five occasions waiting for a bus and had to get a taxi provided by Go Ride into the town centre.
She said: “We don’t think the bus company went into it properly from the beginning.
“It’s a farce and they didn’t realise the needs of people. It’s a long walk into Witney and we need a bus – I’ve never heard of a bus company having to get a taxi before. When you do get on the bus it’s squashed.”
The changes were made after Oxfordshire County Council reviewed its subsidies for routes in the district.
Eight subsidised services were taken over on a commercial basis by operators Stagecoach, Go Ride and the Villager community bus service to save the council almost £300,000. The Stagecoach 213, 214 and 215 services were transferred to Go Ride, which renumbered them as W1, W1A, W2 and W3.
Mrs Neill, 75, uses a walking stick and said it was also difficult to get on the bus because it can’t be lowered and there was no bell.
She said: “For people in wheelchairs, elderly people who have their shopping trolleys and mums with buggies they can’t get on the bus. It’s just horrendous and so many people have complained about them.”
Mrs Neill’s son Steven, 42, has set up an online petition and is planning on collecting signatures in the town centre asking the county council to take the service away from Go Ride.
He said: “You expect a bus to complete its route without leaving anyone standing.
“It just seems like the cheap option with the shortest route, the quickest they can do it and using the smallest buses.”
Witney Town Council member Brenda Churchill, who lives in Wenman Road on the Smiths Estate, said: “The 215 bus was very well used by people in the Smiths Estate but it only came once an hour so it’s horrendous that it’s been replaced by a minibus.
“It’s not good if people have an appointment at the doctors and they get left behind.”
Go Ride director Danny Douglas admitted buses had been overcrowded and said additional services will begin on Saturday, June 28. The additional services will be for the W3 routes, with a 9am service from Monday to Saturday that will include the Cogges Estate and a 9.55am service on a Thursday.
Go Ride hired a taxi to follow its W1, W1A, W2 and W3 services at 9am on 10 days so it could pick up excess passengers.
Go Ride director Danny Douglas said the company had received 10 complaints from passengers. These included concerns about overcrowding and timekeeping.
Mr Douglas said: “We’ve got to do better but we’re much more on top of the situation now.”
“In the meantime we will be operating some taxis along with bus services to make sure everyone can get on board.”