Oxford SmartZone celebrates five-year milestone

Five years ago, Oxford SmartZone was launched to make bus travel around the city simpler, more affordable and greener.

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, along with Go-Ahead owned Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel joined forces in July 2011 to create the ground-breaking Oxford SmartZone range of smartcard based tickets.

Partnership between Stagecoach, Go-Ahead and County Council is now used as a case study

At the same time the four busiest routes in the city serving Blackbird Leys, Rose Hill, Kidlington, Barton and Risinghurst were given co-ordinated timetables and the operators invested £12m on new double-deckers and the latest smartcard ticketing technology.

The aim was to enable passengers to jump on the first bus to come along, rather than wait for the bus company they had purchased their original ticket from.

As the first city in England to introduce a bus operator-led, multi-operator smartcard ticketing scheme, the Oxford SmartZone concept has brought many positive benefits since its launch in July 2011:

  • Bus passenger numbers have increased by 5% per annum
  • 50 million passengers have taken journeys using the smartcard
  • 28% of smartcard users say they use the bus now more than they did before having a smartcard
  • 98% of smartcard users are satisfied with the scheme

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire MD Martin Sutton says: “Because SmartZone was one of the first smartcard, multi-operator, ticketing schemes to be introduced in England there was a lot of focus on us to see whether it would work.

“Oxford is now used as a case study for other areas of the country looking to introduce similar schemes – it’s great to say our city is leading in terms of bus travel.”

Oxford Bus Company MD Phil Southall says: “Oxford SmartZone has changed the way the UK approaches multi-operator ticketing.

“The people of Oxford can jump on the first bus that comes along, instead of waiting for one company, and 98% of customers are satisfied with the scheme.

“We’ve achieved this without the need for a complex revenue allocation system which means administration savings are passed onto our customers keeping prices close to that of individual operator tickets.”

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, says: “Smartzone has transformed the quality and offer of the Oxford bus network and encouraged the sustainable growth of bus use over the last five years and this is something that is being built on through the Oxford Transport Strategy.

“The county council has always been very keen to encourage bus use and make it as easy as possible for people to get where they are going by public transport. SmartZone has done this very well.”