Thames Travel to launch new science transit shuttle connecting Oxford and key employment sites

Jul 02 2019

Thames Travel has been awarded a three year tender by the University of Oxford to operate the Science Transit Shuttle service from 15 July 2019 to connect key sites in Oxford and to connect Oxford and Harwell.

The company is investing £1M in a new fleet of six ultra-low emission (Euro VI) vehicles to connect Oxford with Harwell Campus, and connect the University’s Science area with JR Hospital, Old Road Campus and Wytham. The service continues the pilot project set up by the University of Oxford and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council at Harwell. The express service between Oxford and Harwell facilitates collaboration in research and enables the University to access the cutting-edge scientific infrastructure at Harwell including Europe’s largest synchrotron.

The Science Transit Shuttle continues to be part subsidised by the University of Oxford, the Science and Technologies Facilities Council and UK Research and Innovation. The new service operated by Thames Travel will now be open to the public while the existing service is only open to University staff and students and Harwell employees.

Phil Southall, Thames Travel Managing Director, said: “Our new Science Transit Shuttle Connector services will connect Oxford with key employment sites and forms part of our continued investment in supporting the economic growth of the county. The new service will be open to everybody and demonstrates what can be achieved when key stakeholders work together on shared objectives. This vital new service would not have been possible without the support of our partners. This latest investment in the new fleet of environmentally friendly, high-spec Connector branded vehicles further demonstrates our commitment to the region.

Prof. Patrick Grant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, University of Oxford said: “The University of Oxford is internationally recognised for the range and excellence of its research, and the calibre of its academic researchers. Our cutting-edge research in physical and life sciences requires access to state-of-the-art facilities and collaborations with centres of expertise around the world. The Science Transit Shuttle pilot showed that strong transport connections supported interactions between the University and organisations at Harwell. Establishing this route as a public service, providing a fast and frequent connection between the campuses as part of the wider regional network, will continue to improve the ability for commercial connections and innovation opportunities to flourish from these innovation centres.”

“This is another important step in ensuring there are strong transport links to support growth in key areas. The new ST1 service increases the number of express public bus services utilising the A34 to provide links to Harwell and key business park locations, and over time we would like to see bus priority introduced on this corridor to enable these links to be developed further.

Jason Dorsett, Chief Finance Officer at Oxford University Hospitals, said: “This is excellent news for staff and visitors coming from the railway station and the South and West of the County because the ST2 Science Transit Shuttle offers them a direct service to our Headington hospitals. We are grateful to Thames Travel for continuing this service and we expect it to be popular with staff, patients and visitors alike.”
The ST1 Connector service will provide a fast route between Broad Street, the University Science Area and Harwell Campus every 30 minutes between 6.40am and 7pm Monday to Friday. The existing X34 service will be incorporated into the ST1 service.

The ST2 Connector service will operate between the John Radcliffe Hospital, Old Road Campus, University Science Area, Oxford rail station, Seacourt Park & Ride and Wytham between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday.

Thames Travel’s fleet of buses are low emission vehicles and it is the third largest bus operator in Oxfordshire. It serves South Oxfordshire and into Berkshire, carrying 2.9M passengers per year. Earlier this year Thames Travel moved its depot to Didcot as part of its investment into the area and its fleet, infrastructure and people.