AN ELDERLY blind man has called for a rethink about how pensioners use community transport.

Tony Clark, 83, said that a scheme encouraging pensioners with bus passes to pay a pound per trip would protect community bus services from any loss in funding elsewhere.

West Oxfordshire Community Transport, which operates three services in and around Witney, is reimbursed each time a pensioner uses a pass – but Mr Clark maintains that more cash would help it stay afloat long into the future.

He said: “I think that pensioners really could pay a pound a trip.

"That would be £2 for the day for somebody going out to Witney or Chipping Norton from the surrounding villages.

“It wouldn’t be a lot of money per trip but my goodness it would add up.

"We lost the Stagecoach service and I honestly believe that if we had all put in a couple of quid it could have continued.

“I think there could be a sign which says ‘if you wish to support this community bus please give a donation’.”

West Oxfordshire Community Transport initially launched routes connecting Witney’s outlying estates to the town centre.

Though the services are aimed at everyone in the community, they have been praised for being so useful to elderly and vulnerable people who would otherwise struggle to travel.

More recently, WOCT launched the 210 to restore a bus service to five villages in West Oxfordshire, including Mr Clark’s village, Milton-under-Wychwood.

Mr Clark, who is registered blind and has about 10 per cent vision remaining, described the new service as ‘brilliant’, but fears it won’t be around forever without sufficient support.

He said: “I won’t be using it much. Probably about 12 times a year. But it’s so important for the people that use it.

“I’m sure that pensioners could pop a couple of quid in the box when they get on the bus.

“If you look at areas like Milton-under-Wychwood or Shipton-under-Wychwood. It’s the pensioners who are going into Witney or going into Chipping Norton.”

West Oxfordshire Community Transport is a charitable community benefit society, which means it conducts business for the benefit of the community. Any profits are not distributed among members or external shareholders, but returned to the organisation for further investment in its objectives.

Anyone can become a member and invest in the service – an option not offered by the leading bus operators.

It has also received support from councils, including West Oxfordshire District Council.

Mr Clark said: “When West Oxfordshire District Council decides it can’t support it anymore eventually the service will be lost.”

Director at West Oxfordshire Community Transport Laura Price said that usage in general was the key issue and not the concessionary pass.

She added: “Bus operators get reimbursed the fare for concessionary bus pass users so actually anyone using the bus – whether they have a pass or not – is the important thing.

"As a member-owned co-op people can additionally choose to invest with us as a means of supporting a local bus service.”