Friday, 15 August 2014

Spot the difference: On The Buses in Oxford and Brighton

A long weekend in Oxford at the World Humanist Congress 2014 provided the chance to explore the city on foot and by bus. Like Brighton and Hove, Oxford is a city which is now mainly defined by two sectors: education and tourism. Both cities are compact - ideal for pedestrians, bikes (although Oxford is much less hilly than Brighton), and buses.

Oxford’s buses are run by the Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach and Thames Travel Buses. As in Brighton, buses are modern, accessible, and fairly frequent. Many have on-board wi-fi. As with Brighton and Hove Bus Company, the Oxford Bus Company is part of the Go-Ahead Group. And as in Brighton, there has been a steady growth in bus user-ship in recent years.

Oxford Bus Company

Spot the difference.

Btn Bus

But as well as the similarities, there are some major differences, especially when it comes to tickets.
In Oxford,passengers can buy a day ticket on a bus (for £4) and use it on all of the city’s buses during the daytime. So it’s cheaper than in Brighton, and it’s fully Scan0049 Ox Bus interoperable across all bus operators – something where Brighton lags (although it used to be available). Secondly, although it’s called a “Day Ticket” in Oxford, it’s actually valid for 24 hours – much like the system that operates in most cities in the rest of Europe outside the UK, and which provides better value for customers. How come two firms, part of the same plc, have such different policies when it comes to the fare paying bus passenger? Although Brighton and Oxford have their differences, it would be good if some things were a bit more similar when it comes to our city’s buses.

PS: As the Oxford Bus Company has pointed out (via Twitter),  it’s part of the same Group, not the same Company: local management can flex policy and practice according to local conditions. Fair enough. But it would be great if best practice (Oxford’s fares and interoperability) could be replicated across the Group.

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