In 1972, a revolution in local transport policy in Oxford resulted in the dominant doctrine of the previous 30 years-providing for car use-being replaced by an alternative policy 'frame' focussed around the promotion of bus use. Although subsequently challenged in the 1970s and 1980s, the pro-bus policy community remained sufficiently strong to implement a further level of bus-oriented policy in the 1990s. Bus use in Oxford has returned to levels not observed since the 1960s, against a trend of decline nationally. The present paper examines how the policy problems came to be framed around the bus and how the frame evolved to accommodate changes in the funding and regulation of public transport. The extent to which the Oxford experience informs future policy-making towards demand management in urban areas is considered and the explanatory value of the concept of framing is revisited. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.