Oyster-type travel card may be introduced in Oxfordshire

County council leader Ian Hudspeth         Picture: Mark Hemsworth

County council leader Ian Hudspeth Picture: Mark Hemsworth Buy this photo

First published in News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

A TRAVEL card that could be used by bus and rail passengers across Oxfordshire is being proposed by Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth.

He wants to create a plastic smartcard similar to the Oyster card in London, which can be used on buses, rail services, and to pay for car parking.

The ‘Oyster card for Oxfordshire’ does not yet have the backing of the council’s cabinet, and Mr Hudspeth wants to consult passenger groups before costing the idea and taking it forward. The proposal follows the success of the Key smartcard introduced by the Oxford Bus Company in 2010.

Rival bus firm Stagecoach operates a similar smartcard.

Eighteen months ago, a joint ticketing arrangement was introduced so that Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach passengers could use both companies’ services in and around the city, using a SmartZone option on the smartcards.

Mr Hudspeth said: “The card would be similar to the Oyster card in London, and could be used on different forms of transport across Oxfordshire, to make it seamless and easier for people to travel.

“At first the card could be designed for just bus passengers but eventually I would like to extend it so that rail passengers could use it as well.

“This is at a very early stage, but it’s an idea I want to explore with all travel operators and passenger groups to see what they think.

“The card could be used to pay for park-and-ride car parking charges, and for bus and train tickets.

“I want to investigate how far this could go, using smartphone technology, and perhaps a special Oxfordshire travel app could also be created.

“Ideally I would like someone to be able to park-and-ride at Water Eaton and then get the train from Oxford to London using just the one card.”

Philip Kirk, managing director of Oxford Bus Company, said: “We realise that the success of our groundbreaking Key has made everyone aware of the advantages of a smartcard in speeding up journey time and making bus travel more flexible.

“We are happy to discuss the possibilities and investigate how we can harness the ever-changing technology.”

Mr Hudspeth said he would set up a working group to examine the proposal if he was still council leader after the May election, and that a card could take 18 months to launch.

Hugh Jaeger, spokesman for the Oxford branch of Bus Users UK, met Mr Hudspeth on Tuesday to discuss it.

Mr Jaeger said: “There are bus passengers in places like Abingdon and Wheatley who want to take advantage of joint ticketing but can’t at the moment and they would certainly welcome a smartcard for bus travel for Oxfordshire.

“The technology is there, so there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be investigated.”

Bruce Williamson, of rail campaign group Railfuture, added: “A card like this would provide more flexibility for rail passengers, but I think you still need to keep the option of paying cash.”

First Great Western spokesman James Davis said: “We are happy to discuss these proposals with county council leaders in Oxford. We are working with the rail industry as a whole, and the Department for Transport to extend the use of smartcards.”

Ticket barriers at Oxfordshire stations have not been adapted for smartcard use.

HOW IT WORKS IN LONDON

THE Oyster card is run by Transport for London and is a plastic smartcard that can be used instead of paper tickets. 

The card can be used to pay for single journeys on bus, tube, tram, Docklands light railway, London overground and most national rail sevices in London.
Oyster cards can be topped up with credit and you can renew travel cards or bus passes using the Oyster card.

Comments (15)

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10:14am Thu 24 Jan 13

Gunslinger says...

Something very like this was tried in the Reading area in the late 1990's but was eventually phased out.
One problem is that people won't use the card rather than cash unless there is a financial advantage, and the operators aren't prepared (and the Council can't afford) to subsidize the set up and operating costs.
Same reason you are charged 20p extra to pay Oxford City parking charges by phone or online, when logic suggests you should get a discount or at least pay the same as for cash.
Something very like this was tried in the Reading area in the late 1990's but was eventually phased out. One problem is that people won't use the card rather than cash unless there is a financial advantage, and the operators aren't prepared (and the Council can't afford) to subsidize the set up and operating costs. Same reason you are charged 20p extra to pay Oxford City parking charges by phone or online, when logic suggests you should get a discount or at least pay the same as for cash. Gunslinger
  • Score: 0

12:45pm Thu 24 Jan 13

RJOxford says...

This is already happening with the Go-Ahead Group (owners of Oxford Bus and Thames Travel) using smart cards on their rail services and the new Great Western franchise (if it ever gets sorted out) has provision for "smart ticketing". It is theoretically possible at present, but I can't see it working in Oxfordshire. If one company ran the buses and train franchise then it could happen quicker, but not yet and not for the foreseeable future.
This is already happening with the Go-Ahead Group (owners of Oxford Bus and Thames Travel) using smart cards on their rail services and the new Great Western franchise (if it ever gets sorted out) has provision for "smart ticketing". It is theoretically possible at present, but I can't see it working in Oxfordshire. If one company ran the buses and train franchise then it could happen quicker, but not yet and not for the foreseeable future. RJOxford
  • Score: 0

1:06pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Andrew:Oxford says...

This would be excellent. Even better for cashless parking. Tap in at the meter when you arrive at the space, then again when you leave (or pay for a full day parking if you don't).

It would be helpful if (anonymised) data were used to monitor the real-world transport needs of people that way public transport infrastructure could be improved to meet demand.

Clearly this is something that has to be looked at fairly urgently - before the Great Western & East-West Franchises are let for 15 years or the Chiltern service commences operations.
This would be excellent. Even better for cashless parking. Tap in at the meter when you arrive at the space, then again when you leave (or pay for a full day parking if you don't). It would be helpful if (anonymised) data were used to monitor the real-world transport needs of people that way public transport infrastructure could be improved to meet demand. Clearly this is something that has to be looked at fairly urgently - before the Great Western & East-West Franchises are let for 15 years or the Chiltern service commences operations. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

2:29pm Thu 24 Jan 13

King Joke says...

This will be great if they can pull it off, and will be even better with online top up and a pay-as-you-go cap like the Oyster Card.

THe current 'Smart Zone' system is great, it works very well, but it is limited to Oxford only, you can't top up online and you have to buy a whole day's worth of travel rather than paying as you go up to a cap.
This will be great if they can pull it off, and will be even better with online top up and a pay-as-you-go cap like the Oyster Card. THe current 'Smart Zone' system is great, it works very well, but it is limited to Oxford only, you can't top up online and you have to buy a whole day's worth of travel rather than paying as you go up to a cap. King Joke
  • Score: 0

4:04pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Grunden Skip says...

King Joke wrote:
This will be great if they can pull it off, and will be even better with online top up and a pay-as-you-go cap like the Oyster Card.

THe current 'Smart Zone' system is great, it works very well, but it is limited to Oxford only, you can't top up online and you have to buy a whole day's worth of travel rather than paying as you go up to a cap.
It won't be great when you find out that your card has opted for the full price rail ticket, rather than the supersaver one far cheaper on the internet. This is not being investigated for our benefit.
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: This will be great if they can pull it off, and will be even better with online top up and a pay-as-you-go cap like the Oyster Card. THe current 'Smart Zone' system is great, it works very well, but it is limited to Oxford only, you can't top up online and you have to buy a whole day's worth of travel rather than paying as you go up to a cap.[/p][/quote]It won't be great when you find out that your card has opted for the full price rail ticket, rather than the supersaver one far cheaper on the internet. This is not being investigated for our benefit. Grunden Skip
  • Score: 0

4:09pm Thu 24 Jan 13

King Joke says...

Yes rail is much more problematic than bus, as it has proven with Oyster in the TfL area. These things will have to be agreed beforehand, but they're not insurmountable.
Yes rail is much more problematic than bus, as it has proven with Oyster in the TfL area. These things will have to be agreed beforehand, but they're not insurmountable. King Joke
  • Score: 0

5:25pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Zoe Anne says...

Interesting that the 'idea' was proposed years ago at County Hall by the Lib Dems and voted down by the same Ian Hudspeth!
Interesting that the 'idea' was proposed years ago at County Hall by the Lib Dems and voted down by the same Ian Hudspeth! Zoe Anne
  • Score: 0

5:26pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Zoe Anne says...

Interesting that the 'idea' was proposed years ago at County Hall by the Lib Dems and voted down by the same Ian Hudspeth!
Interesting that the 'idea' was proposed years ago at County Hall by the Lib Dems and voted down by the same Ian Hudspeth! Zoe Anne
  • Score: 0

5:31pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Gunslinger says...

This works in London because TfL control all the fares, and buses effectively charge a flat fare for any journey.
While it might work in Oxford for the smart zone, it would be much more difficult on the country routes because fares are variable according to where you are going.
However the big question is the cost - I don't people will be prepared to pay any extra just for the convenience of using a card rather than cash. If the example of the RingGo car parking in Oxford is anything to go by, it will be perceived as a ripoff.
This works in London because TfL control all the fares, and buses effectively charge a flat fare for any journey. While it might work in Oxford for the smart zone, it would be much more difficult on the country routes because fares are variable according to where you are going. However the big question is the cost - I don't people will be prepared to pay any extra just for the convenience of using a card rather than cash. If the example of the RingGo car parking in Oxford is anything to go by, it will be perceived as a ripoff. Gunslinger
  • Score: 0

7:12pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Andrew:Oxford says...

Gunslinger wrote:
This works in London because TfL control all the fares, and buses effectively charge a flat fare for any journey.
While it might work in Oxford for the smart zone, it would be much more difficult on the country routes because fares are variable according to where you are going.
However the big question is the cost - I don't people will be prepared to pay any extra just for the convenience of using a card rather than cash. If the example of the RingGo car parking in Oxford is anything to go by, it will be perceived as a ripoff.
Ringo is great. Don't have to touch the machines, handle dirty coin or deal with the beggars and potential to call up and extend a stay. Worth every penny.

If it follows the Oyster model, there wouldn't be any additional charges.
[quote][p][bold]Gunslinger[/bold] wrote: This works in London because TfL control all the fares, and buses effectively charge a flat fare for any journey. While it might work in Oxford for the smart zone, it would be much more difficult on the country routes because fares are variable according to where you are going. However the big question is the cost - I don't people will be prepared to pay any extra just for the convenience of using a card rather than cash. If the example of the RingGo car parking in Oxford is anything to go by, it will be perceived as a ripoff.[/p][/quote]Ringo is great. Don't have to touch the machines, handle dirty coin or deal with the beggars and potential to call up and extend a stay. Worth every penny. If it follows the Oyster model, there wouldn't be any additional charges. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

7:16pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Andrew:Oxford says...

Oh, and ideally.

Subcontract the whole operations to TfL from the outset. They've got the experience and expertise - why duplicate things?
Oh, and ideally. Subcontract the whole operations to TfL from the outset. They've got the experience and expertise - why duplicate things? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

7:29pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Grunden Skip says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Oh, and ideally.

Subcontract the whole operations to TfL from the outset. They've got the experience and expertise - why duplicate things?
Because Andrew. TFL, (who are on the whole incompetent, who would schedule major tube works on a day when both Chelsea and Arsenal are at home, with over 100,000 extra people to travel) would charge Boris's exorbitant surcharge for the pleasure of doing so. A cash journey of 1 stop is now £4 on The Tube in London. After 10pm in Oxford it is £3 on Stagecoach for 1 stop on a bus. Expect your fares to rise if Stagecoach get any kind of sniff of this.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Oh, and ideally. Subcontract the whole operations to TfL from the outset. They've got the experience and expertise - why duplicate things?[/p][/quote]Because Andrew. TFL, (who are on the whole incompetent, who would schedule major tube works on a day when both Chelsea and Arsenal are at home, with over 100,000 extra people to travel) would charge Boris's exorbitant surcharge for the pleasure of doing so. A cash journey of 1 stop is now £4 on The Tube in London. After 10pm in Oxford it is £3 on Stagecoach for 1 stop on a bus. Expect your fares to rise if Stagecoach get any kind of sniff of this. Grunden Skip
  • Score: 0

11:21pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Andrew:Oxford says...

Grunden Skip wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Oh, and ideally.

Subcontract the whole operations to TfL from the outset. They've got the experience and expertise - why duplicate things?
Because Andrew. TFL, (who are on the whole incompetent, who would schedule major tube works on a day when both Chelsea and Arsenal are at home, with over 100,000 extra people to travel) would charge Boris's exorbitant surcharge for the pleasure of doing so. A cash journey of 1 stop is now £4 on The Tube in London. After 10pm in Oxford it is £3 on Stagecoach for 1 stop on a bus. Expect your fares to rise if Stagecoach get any kind of sniff of this.
Are you absolutely sure that the Tube works weren't planned long before the football teams decided to play at home?

Major infrastructure work is usually planned 12-18 months beforehand with details promulgated in early course. Isn't football organised around elderly gentlemen drawing balls "randomly" from a bag at the start of a season?

£4.50 if you choose to pay with cash for an immediate fare. £2.10 if you buy an Oyster Card with cash from the machine that will also sell you the £4.50 ticket.

It's your personal choice how to spend money...
[quote][p][bold]Grunden Skip[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Oh, and ideally. Subcontract the whole operations to TfL from the outset. They've got the experience and expertise - why duplicate things?[/p][/quote]Because Andrew. TFL, (who are on the whole incompetent, who would schedule major tube works on a day when both Chelsea and Arsenal are at home, with over 100,000 extra people to travel) would charge Boris's exorbitant surcharge for the pleasure of doing so. A cash journey of 1 stop is now £4 on The Tube in London. After 10pm in Oxford it is £3 on Stagecoach for 1 stop on a bus. Expect your fares to rise if Stagecoach get any kind of sniff of this.[/p][/quote]Are you absolutely sure that the Tube works weren't planned long before the football teams decided to play at home? Major infrastructure work is usually planned 12-18 months beforehand with details promulgated in early course. Isn't football organised around elderly gentlemen drawing balls "randomly" from a bag at the start of a season? £4.50 if you choose to pay with cash for an immediate fare. £2.10 if you buy an Oyster Card with cash from the machine that will also sell you the £4.50 ticket. It's your personal choice how to spend money... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

8:50am Fri 25 Jan 13

King Joke says...

Grunden, the cash fares on TfL have gone up, but the Oyster fares are much cheaper. Ruddy good job too - the amount of time wasted in Oxford by purse-fiddlers is a travesty, and the sooner they are encouraged onto cashless payment like in London the better.

Night fares in Oxford start at 2400, not 2200 as you state. Besides which if you have a smart card valid on Stagecoach they are free!

From your recent posts, you are paying high fares because you are an infrequent user. You are one of the groups who would be much, much better off under a PAYG cap system.
Grunden, the cash fares on TfL have gone up, but the Oyster fares are much cheaper. Ruddy good job too - the amount of time wasted in Oxford by purse-fiddlers is a travesty, and the sooner they are encouraged onto cashless payment like in London the better. Night fares in Oxford start at 2400, not 2200 as you state. Besides which if you have a smart card valid on Stagecoach they are free! From your recent posts, you are paying high fares because you are an infrequent user. You are one of the groups who would be much, much better off under a PAYG cap system. King Joke
  • Score: 0

1:15pm Fri 25 Jan 13

Andrew:Oxford says...

King Joke wrote:
Grunden, the cash fares on TfL have gone up, but the Oyster fares are much cheaper. Ruddy good job too - the amount of time wasted in Oxford by purse-fiddlers is a travesty, and the sooner they are encouraged onto cashless payment like in London the better. Night fares in Oxford start at 2400, not 2200 as you state. Besides which if you have a smart card valid on Stagecoach they are free! From your recent posts, you are paying high fares because you are an infrequent user. You are one of the groups who would be much, much better off under a PAYG cap system.
Purse-fiddlers, great phrase. We all know who they are when we are waiting:-

They are the ones who have been standing in front of you in the queue for 10 minutes and aren't sure what kind of coffee they want or if it's "to go".

They also aren't sure how much they need to draw from the ATM - or if they want a receipt. Then stand daydreaming whilst they decide which part of their purse to put the cash in.

There really should be an A' level in "Planning, Accuracy, Decisiveness and Spatial awareness" - it would be so helpful when recruiting. There are so many alleged well educated people out there who are baffled by reality.
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: Grunden, the cash fares on TfL have gone up, but the Oyster fares are much cheaper. Ruddy good job too - the amount of time wasted in Oxford by purse-fiddlers is a travesty, and the sooner they are encouraged onto cashless payment like in London the better. Night fares in Oxford start at 2400, not 2200 as you state. Besides which if you have a smart card valid on Stagecoach they are free! From your recent posts, you are paying high fares because you are an infrequent user. You are one of the groups who would be much, much better off under a PAYG cap system.[/p][/quote]Purse-fiddlers, great phrase. We all know who they are when we are waiting:- They are the ones who have been standing in front of you in the queue for 10 minutes and aren't sure what kind of coffee they want or if it's "to go". They also aren't sure how much they need to draw from the ATM - or if they want a receipt. Then stand daydreaming whilst they decide which part of their purse to put the cash in. There really should be an A' level in "Planning, Accuracy, Decisiveness and Spatial awareness" - it would be so helpful when recruiting. There are so many alleged well educated people out there who are baffled by reality. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

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