Bus services in Oldham are reportedly under threat and have been declining over the course of a decade, a new study reveals.

Bus services in the borough and Greater Manchester have reduced by as much as 56 per cent in the last 10 years according to recent figures uncovered by the University of Leeds and Friends of the Earth.

The research shows that bus frequency is down 33 per cent across the Greater Manchester region, which is serviced by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

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But in Oldham, the figure sits around 36 per cent and in some areas of the borough, such as Shaw, the figure is a shocking 56 per cent.

The researchers from the University and Friends of the Earth said its study mapped out the "silent war on bus users" in the past decade and shows how bus services outside of London have been on a staggering decline.

It found urban bus services have dropped by 48 per cent and rural buses by 53 per cent across England and Wales since 2008 - and some regions faring worse than others such as the East Midlands, Wales and the North East.

The study argues that while the capital has had an "almost constant level of bus provision" many other parts of the UK have suffered.

It continues: "These cuts are likely to disproportionately impact those living on low incomes, people of colour and disabled people because they are less likely to own a car, as well as people who’ve had to give up their car due to their age or health.

"Unlike the rest of Britain, London bus services weren’t deregulated in the 1980s.

"This means they remained a public service controlled by local government body Transport for London, which sets routes, timetables and fares.

"Reregulating buses and additional finance are key to delivering a much-needed bus renaissance."

It also revealed weekday evening services, between 6pm and 10pm, have seen the most cuts outside of London and means those needing to travel outside of peak times have faced a drop-off in the frequency and reliability of such services.

The researchers said this "particularly impacts shift workers without a car, for example those working in the NHS" and also affects people without a car who want to access cultural services, such as restaurants and cinemas in the evenings. 

Reacting to the local figures, Shaw representative and Greater Manchester Transport Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, councillor Howard Sykes MBE, said: “These figures show just how hollowed out our public transport services have become.

“We have the tram, which provides a vital service to people in Shaw and across Oldham. 

"But people also rely on local bus services.  Especially the elderly, those who are disabled and young people.

“Over recent years it has been a constant battle to try to maintain the local services we have. 

"People have sadly gotten used to seeing reduced services and chaotic changes to timetables.

“It remains to be seen how Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s recent move to take bus services back into public ownership will impact these issues. 

"Will he and TfGM seize the opportunity to reverse this decline?  Or can residents in Oldham and Greater Manchester expect more of the same?"

Transport for Greater Manchester has been contacted for comment.

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