A record low number of buses and coaches are using Oxfordshire roads, new figures show.

It comes as fewer buses were licensed across the UK at the end of last year than in any year since 2014.

The RAC said the fall is "disappointing", while the Campaign for Better Transport urged the Government to work with local authorities and bus operators to expand and improve bus services.

Department for Transport figures show 1,347 buses and coaches were licenced in Oxfordshire at the end of 2023.

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Herald Series: One of Oxford's buses.One of Oxford's buses. (Image: Photo: Oxford Mail)

This was down from 1,442 the year before, and represented a fall of 24 per cent since 2014, slumping to the lowest figure of any year over the last 10 years.

Some 141,300 buses and coaches were registered across the UK at the end of last year, a 16 per cent decline from nine years prior.

Rod Dennis, a spokesperson for the RAC, said the fall is "disappointing at a time when so much public money is being spent on trying to make bus travel more attractive".

He added: "It’s little wonder then that so many people are as dependent on their cars as they are."

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Silviya Barrett, director of policy and campaigns at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Schemes such as the £2 bus fare cap have helped to boost bus passenger numbers, but they are no substitute for long-term funding, and these figures show we still have a way to go to halt the vicious cycle of bus cuts.

"The Government must do more to support all local authorities so they can work with bus operators to run quality services and expand provision for the millions of people who rely on buses every day."

The Bus Users campaign group said losing bus services leaves people "without vital access to education, healthcare, employment, friends and family".

Chief executive Claire Walter said: "Funding for bus services is an investment that boosts local economies, reduces congestion and pollution, and improves health and wellbeing.

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Herald Series: A bus headed for Blackbird Leys.A bus headed for Blackbird Leys.

"We need ongoing, ring-fenced funding to protect these lifeline services for the future."

It is worth noting that coach operator Heyfordian Travel ceased in August 2023.

This closure has impacted the figures for the county and has ensured that the number of buses and coaches in Oxfordshire has decreased.

An Oxford Bus Company spokesperson said: “These figures are not representative of the number of buses operating on Oxfordshire’s roads and the frequency of services.

“At the end of 2023, mileage across all our services increased by seven per cent year-on-year. Our passenger count increased by 15.9% over the same period too.

“This is thanks to the £2 bus fare cap scheme which has been a huge success and made local travel more affordable for thousands of families amid cost-of-living pressures.

"We have also made a number of improvements to our services and vehicle fleet, and have worked with Oxfordshire County Council to implement several new links.

“Our team prides itself on delivering a reliable and punctual service seven days a week which meets the current demands of bus users across Oxfordshire.”