Hallmarks Connections expands operations in Oxfordshire

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Rotala-owned Hallmark Connections commenced operation of the Oxfordshire County Council contract for service 250 from Bicester to Oxford city centre on Monday 6 July.

The 250 service serves the rural communities of Middleton Stoney, Upper Heyford, Lower Heyford, Kirtlington, Bletchingdon and Hampton Poyle. The former United States Air Force base at Upper Heyford is currently being redeveloped and is known as Heyford Park, where over 1,300 new homes are currently being completed. The service allows for early morning and late evening departures to and from Bicester and Oxford Monday to Saturday, and operates at an hourly frequency in each direction.

Wrightbus Streetlite DF 20170, SM19 KKS is seen on the first day of operation. The interior is of high specification. RICHARD SHARMAN

As a group, Rotala has had a strong presence in Bicester for a number of years, with it operating the Bicester Village North shuttle service 7-days a week and the Park & Ride service which operated at weekends and during busy periods such as Christmas and the New Year. Both of those contracts recently passed to Oxford Bus Company, the previous operator of the 250 service, but Hallmark has retained the Bicester Village Shopping Express service from London which restarted on Sunday 5 July. This service picks up from Golden Tours office at Victoria, Hardrock Hotel London and the Hilton Kensington.

CBW spoke to Martin Evans, Commercial Manager at Hallmark Connections about the contract gain: “We have created five new driving jobs from this contract award and they will be based at our Operating Centre in Bicester.

“All buses used are 2019 registered, low floor, DDA compliant and feature a TFT screen with next stop announcements, free Wifi, USB charging, contactless payments and live vehicle tracking on the Hallmark Bus app.

“Hallmark are keen to progress the relationship with Oxfordshire County Council and will look at all sustainable contracts that Oxfordshire County Council want us to operate. We are currently looking at all commercial opportunities in Oxford and see this as an area of growth for the Rotala brand.”