A COMMUNITY group founded to bring back lost bus routes is preparing to launch a new service as it aims to branch out further.

West Oxfordshire Community Transport Ltd will on Monday launch a new service connecting estates in Witney with the town centre.

The group, which formed earlier this year when another bus service stopped operating, is now looking at branching out beyond Witney and is seeking new drivers to help it expand.

Starting from Monday, the new 213 service will run until lunchtime from Monday to Friday, starting at Witney’s Market Square.

From there it will travel to Farmers Close and the Madley Park Estate before returning to the town centre.

The service will expand upon what is already offered by the group’s 214 and 215 services with a few additions to pick up more residents.

Trustee Laura Price said: “We’ve adapted it to include a few extra stops to widen it out to people.

"It’s really all about extending that network of town centre bus provision.

“Our running of the other two buses has been so successful – people have really taken to using the services and the buses often do reach capacity.”

The 214 and 215 services were taken over at the beginning of February when former operator Go Ride's contract ended.

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 planned to 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.

The group now has three buses.

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

Following its continued success, the group is now looking at extending beyond the boundaries of the town, but it needs help to do so.

Ms Price continued: “We have aspirations to take on some routes outside of Witney which have suffered from the loss of buses.

“But we really need more people who are interested in driving buses for us.”

To contact the group or for more information on timetables visit facebook.com/WOCTBus/