A BUS operator says most of its regular users pay less since return tickets in Oxford were replaced by all-day ones – despite Oxford Mail readers saying otherwise.

Since March 20, passengers using Stagecoach West haven’t been able to purchase return tickets within the Oxford SmartZone area.

The Stagecoach website states drivers will provide bus users with the best value ticket for the journey they wish to make.

However, commenting online, Oxford Mail readers say they are paying more money since the changes were implemented.

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Rachel Geliamassi, managing director at Stagecoach West, said: “We are committed to offering our customers the best local bus travel and consistently deliver some of the lowest ticket prices in the country.

“The ticket and fare changes made across the region in March are the first in almost two years and reflect the rising costs of running bus services.

“Where fares have increased, this has been kept below the annual rate of inflation of 7.5 per cent.

“We have also taken this as an opportunity to simplify our ticket range to make it easier for passengers to find the best value for their journeys.

“For most of our frequent travellers, this means that the cost of their regular journeys has actually decreased.

“Our new Flexi 5 ticket offers better value for those planning to make several return trips a week.

“Plus, the price of single fares within the city has been frozen, ensuring that Stagecoach continues to offer value for money options for one-way trips in Oxford.

“Return tickets remain available outside of Oxford city centre.”

Oxford Mail: Rachel Geliamassi, managing director at Stagecoach WestRachel Geliamassi, managing director at Stagecoach West

While Stagecoach altered its provision of return tickets, Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel continues to provide such an option.

Phil Southall, managing director of the two operators, said: “Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel continue to provide return tickets as we always have.

“However, Stagecoach has unilaterally decided to cease issuing return tickets within the Oxford SmartZone area and has advised us that it will no longer be accepting Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel tickets in this area after April 30 as a result.

“We have no choice but to accept this commercial decision by Stagecoach.”

Oxford Mail: Phil Southall, managing director at Oxford Bus Company. Picture: Richard CavePhil Southall, managing director at Oxford Bus Company. Picture: Richard Cave

Oxford Mail readers commented online to say the changes brought in by Stagecoach has led to them paying more for tickets.

Ashley Maguire said: “When I bus to work, I don’t need a day ticket. I travel to Oxford and then home again to Witney, there is no need for a day pass.”

However, Wiktoria Staniek argued fuel prices were having an impact, saying: “If you take into consideration fuel prices, that’s why ticket fares have changed. It’s still cheaper to buy a day ticket than two singles.”

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