WEST Oxfordshire schools and residents have praised bus operators that stepped into the breach after a local transport firm closed down. Witney-based RH Transport announced it was going into administration due to financial problems last week.

The firm operated services between Witney and other West Oxfordshire towns, scores of school buses and the Cotswold Line Railbus routes.

But Oxfordshire County Council’s public transport department agreed new operators on affected routes by the following afternoon.

And residents in Charlbury, where RH Transport ran the X9 buses between Chipping Norton and Witney, were full of praise.

Edward Fenton said: “I was impressed by how quickly they stepped in.

“It would have trapped a good number of people, particularly young families and the elderly, if they hadn’t done anything. It would have had serious implications.”

Denise Summers, 69, said: “It would have been awful if Charlbury didn’t have a bus service.”

Richard Fairhurst, Charlbury Town Council transport representative, said: “Everyone has been incredibly impressed with how Oxfordshire County Council stepped into the breach and sorted out replacements pretty much within 24 hours.”

RH also ran bus school bus services across Oxfordshire, including in Eynsham, Burford, Witney and Chipping Norton.

Andrew Hamilton, headteacher of Bartholomew School in Eynsham, said: “The local authority has been very efficient in replacing the bus service that was affected. Everything is going smoothly.”

Jim Meridew, business manager at Burford School, said: “The buses turned up on Monday as they said they would. Nothing changed for students.”

County Hall said replacement bus services that began on Monday will run through until next July, when a tendering process for the routes will begin.

The council says it has not yet calculated the cost of bringing in new firms to take over the RH Transport contracts.

Rodney Rose, cabinet member for transport, said: “It was an awful lot of work for our public transport team, who I think really deserve medals for the fantastic work they have done.

“Nobody has really noticed a difference. I have had no emails complaining, and believe me I usually get them.”

He said RH Transport, which the council had been using since 2003, was on an approved list of firms and the council had gone through due process in awarding contracts.

Up to 70 former RH Transport staff lost their jobs when the company, which administrators said will not be sold as a going concern, went into administration.