WITNEY MP Robert Courts pledged his ‘unwavering’ support to community transport operators after taking a spin on a bus in Witney.

Passengers on the 215 service, which connects Witney’s centre with its estates and serves hundreds each week, were recently joined by their parliamentary representative as he sought to find out more about what community transport can offer.

The bus, as well as two others, is operated by West Oxfordshire Community Transport Ltd – which formed earlier this year as a reaction to cuts to bus services.

Mr Courts, during his recent ride on one of the group’s services, vowed to do anything he could to support it in Parliament.

He said: “I was pleased to meet with the West Oxfordshire Community Transport Ltd to take a ride on the Witney town bus.

“The bus currently serves 500 passengers a week, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable.

"I had the chance to speak to some passengers and they told me just how vital the service is to them.

“Quite simply, community transport is an essential service in West Oxfordshire and without it a great many people would be left isolated, unable to go to the shops or the doctors, or even out to visit family and friends.

“I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that community transport providers in West Oxfordshire are able to thrive and help even more people.”

The 215, as well as the 214, were taken over by West Oxfordshire Community Transport Ltd at the beginning of February when former operator Go Ride's contract ended.

More recently, the group, which now has three buses, launched its 213 service.

The 213, 214 and 215 routes were known as W1, W1A, W2 and W3 when operated by Go Ride.

When Oxfordshire County Council withdrew subsidies for the services last summer, Go Ride announced it would stop running them at the end of January.

Many who depended on the routes were fearful they would be lost forever.

But the community collective was formed to ensure they could carry on.

It received support from Witney Town Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Cottsway Housing association, which allowed the group to purchase its first bus.

As a not-for-profit company, it receives a full rebate on fares when passengers use a bus pass.