AN OYSTER-style travel card for Oxfordshire is being hampered by technology wrangles, it has been claimed.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth has been in discussions with train and bus companies about introducing a single method of paying for public transport across Oxfordshire – including parking.
But while companies back the principle of the idea, he said they could not agree on what technology to use.
Mr Hudspeth said part of the problem was the increasingly diverse range of technology available. And he said he didn’t want to end up in a “Betamax situation”, referring to the 1980s rivalry between Sony’s video cassette format and the ultimately victorious VHS.
Mr Hudspeth, who first mooted a county-wide Oyster card in January last year, said: “It is not as simple as one would think.
“The train companies are saying yes in principle, but they want to have their own technology as well, while both Stagecoach and First Great Western have put a lot of investment into their unique cards.
“It is a question of finding something that is going to be common across the board.
“All these companies can do it for London. You would have thought they would be able to do a similar thing elsewhere.”
In 2011 a joint ticketing arrangement was introduced so that Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach passengers could travel on both sets of buses using a SmartZone option on the smartcards.
Transport for London’s plastic Oyster smartcard can be used instead of paper tickets for single journeys on buses, Tube, trams, the Docklands light railway, London overground and most national rail services in London.
It can be topped up with credit and be used to renew travelcards or bus passes.
A CrossCountry spokesman said: “Because CrossCountry don’t operate any railway stations, which are the primary points at which smartcard ticketing would be used, we are not engaged in discussions.”
First Great Western said: “We are working with the rail industry as a whole and the Department for Transport to extend the use of smartcards.”
A Stagecoach spokesman said: “Stagecoach in Oxfordshire are keen to work with the county council on ticketing schemes proposals and discussions are ongoing.”
Oxford Bus Company said: “There has to be an agreement on what the concept encompasses. Once that happens we can get to work on sorting out the technology that is needed.”
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