BUS SERVICES across the county are gearing up to bring more people back to the city centre now Covid restrictions have been lifted.

Stagecoach Oxfordshire is on a mission along with Oxford City Council’s summer campaign, ‘Rediscover Oxford’, to bring as many people back into the city as possible.

The council’s campaign aims to boost city centre businesses and cultural attractions, while Stagecoach is aiming to get its passenger levels back to pre-pandemic numbers.

Read here: Council apologies for ‘computer error’ which caused potential data breach of rent statements

During lockdown, Stagecoach’s bus services dropped to 20 per cent of the number of passengers who regularly took the bus pre-Covid.

Since lockdown restrictions began to ease, however, the company has seen numbers rise to 50 per cent.

Rachel Geliamassi, managing director of Stagecoach West, which now includes the Oxfordshire branch, said: “As the Government have lifted lockdown measures, the number of our passengers has also started to lift.

“In Oxfordshire’s we have got 50 per cent of our passengers back, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“But this isn’t keeping up pace with other areas in the UK – other parts of England are ahead of Oxfordshire in terms of passengers returning back to the bus.”

Miss Geliamassi said that factors attributing to this lower uptake included less students being in the city, tourism levels being much lower than the average year and more Oxfordshire employees encouraging people to continue to work-from-home, compared to other regions.

The company is doing all it can, however, to make sure passengers feel like they can hop on board once again.

This includes the creation of a ‘busy bus’ feature on the Stagecoach app.

The app will show passengers a traffic light system, showing them a green light when the bus they want to catch is ‘not too busy’, an amber light when the bus is ‘quite busy’ and a red light when the vehicle is ‘very busy’.

Read also: Oxford named one of least affordable cities in UK

On top of this, the buses will still have their regular daily cleans in between journeys and a deep-clean every evening at the depot.

Miss Geliamassi added: “The Government has lifted the requirement to wear facemasks, but we still want to encourage our customers to wear them.

“I am over the moon from hearing from our frontline staff how many customers have continued as normal wearing the masks.

“We are still going to wear them as we think it’s the right thing to do as a member of the community.”

The bus company has also improved its ventilation since the pandemic began, to allow a constant airflow.

Throughout the summer, and into the near future, Stagecoach will be holding different offers on bus fares and will show individuals when you can get the cheapest fare into the city.

You can view the offers by visiting www.stagecoachbus.com