Oxfordshire 'Oyster' mired in debate over technology

Ian Hudspeth

Ian Hudspeth

First published in News

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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Comments (6)

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9:11am Mon 1 Sep 14

Dilligaf2010 says...

Has anybody considered joining forces with tfl & Oyster?
It would certainly make travel between, and around, Oxford and London easier, and the technology is already proven.
Has anybody considered joining forces with tfl & Oyster? It would certainly make travel between, and around, Oxford and London easier, and the technology is already proven. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 6

9:12am Mon 1 Sep 14

EMBOX2 says...

The difference being that TfL imposed the technology, in a "take it or leave it" manner. When you allow people the choice, they will try and push their own system.

All this needs is to use the same technology as an Oyster card; a proven system with millions of users. It should be imposed on all the train/bus companies by the DfT.
The difference being that TfL imposed the technology, in a "take it or leave it" manner. When you allow people the choice, they will try and push their own system. All this needs is to use the same technology as an Oyster card; a proven system with millions of users. It should be imposed on all the train/bus companies by the DfT. EMBOX2
  • Score: 7

9:45am Mon 1 Sep 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Dilligaf2010 wrote:
Has anybody considered joining forces with tfl & Oyster?
It would certainly make travel between, and around, Oxford and London easier, and the technology is already proven.
Exactly.

Simply sub-contract the whole thing to TfL. There is little point in Oxfordshire re-inventing a service when we have a perfectly good system to link in to.

Not just that, it would be great to be able to use the same card for both Oxfordshire and London. One card, two "wallets" on the card.
[quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: Has anybody considered joining forces with tfl & Oyster? It would certainly make travel between, and around, Oxford and London easier, and the technology is already proven.[/p][/quote]Exactly. Simply sub-contract the whole thing to TfL. There is little point in Oxfordshire re-inventing a service when we have a perfectly good system to link in to. Not just that, it would be great to be able to use the same card for both Oxfordshire and London. One card, two "wallets" on the card. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 4

9:54am Mon 1 Sep 14

Gunslinger says...

This is pretty obviously a national issue. Train operators can't be expected to operate with different ticketing systems in each local authority area they serve. There would also need to greater harmonisation of fare and charging structures.

Even a limited system covering just buses would be difficult; London buses operate a flat fare system whatever the distance.

How would that work over longer rural and inter-town routes, or across authority boundaries, eg Oxford - Reading or Swindon? (How does this work for OAP bus passes at the moment?)
This is pretty obviously a national issue. Train operators can't be expected to operate with different ticketing systems in each local authority area they serve. There would also need to greater harmonisation of fare and charging structures. Even a limited system covering just buses would be difficult; London buses operate a flat fare system whatever the distance. How would that work over longer rural and inter-town routes, or across authority boundaries, eg Oxford - Reading or Swindon? (How does this work for OAP bus passes at the moment?) Gunslinger
  • Score: 3

1:50pm Mon 1 Sep 14

docs says...

Just using Oyster itself has to be the simplest option.

I carry an Oyster card - I bet lots of Oxford people do - because it's useful for odd trips into London.

I don't have the local Oxford card because it's not as flexible as Oyster. You have to buy particular journeys, and they expire if you don't use them up. A proper solution for casual use is needed.
Just using Oyster itself has to be the simplest option. I carry an Oyster card - I bet lots of Oxford people do - because it's useful for odd trips into London. I don't have the local Oxford card because it's not as flexible as Oyster. You have to buy particular journeys, and they expire if you don't use them up. A proper solution for casual use is needed. docs
  • Score: 2

1:57pm Mon 1 Sep 14

docs says...

Also, TfL now accept contactless credit/debit cards on buses and soon on the tube too - saves you needing an Oyster card. Perhaps Oxford should cut out the middle-man and just use these directly!
Also, TfL now accept contactless credit/debit cards on buses and soon on the tube too - saves you needing an Oyster card. Perhaps Oxford should cut out the middle-man and just use these directly! docs
  • Score: 2

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