County Council brokers Wycombe Smartzone for buses

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Travelling by bus in High Wycombe is now easier, thanks to a joint ticket arrangement brokered by Buckinghamshire County Council with Arriva and Carousel bus companies.

The bus companies’ set-up costs were match-funded courtesy of a £124,000 top-up grant from Wycombe District Council.

Wycombe Smartzone, launched on Wednesday 8 January, allowing passengers to buy day, week, four-week, or multiple trip tickets that will be accepted on all Arriva and Carousel buses in the area.

Mark Shaw Buckinghamshire County Council Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member, and Wycombe District Council Chairman Paul Turner demonstrate the Arriva and Carousel partnership bus model. BCC

Smartzone extends from Holmer Green in the north, to Wooburn and Bourne End in the east, to Handy Cross in the south and to West Wycombe.

Until the first week in January, passengers had to buy separate tickets to travel on routes operated by the two main bus companies serving the Wycombe area.

As well as the jointly accepted Smartzone tickets, the two bus companies have provided top-up machines in the bus station and introduced contactless payment on board their buses.

Mark Shaw, Deputy Leader, and Transport Cabinet Member said the County Council had co-ordinated the scheme, to comply with competition legislation, and will chair meetings of the management committee that oversees the scheme.

“I’m really pleased we’ve been able to work together to make this great customer-centred scheme happen,” said Mark. “It makes absolute sense to make it as easy as possible for passengers to travel across the Wycombe area, whichever buses they need to use. Full marks to both bus companies for their forward-thinking.”

Funding towards setting up Smartzone – including the back-office support, contactless ticket issuing technology and bus station top-up machines for travel Smart cards – came from contributions from developers to Wycombe District Council.

David Johncock, Wycombe’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainability, said: “We all know how congested our local roads are and the adverse impact this has on our air quality. We have to encourage more people to use public transport and this initiative is a great start to achieving that. Providing a joint system and using modern technology is a sensible way forward and will hopefully achieve environmental benefits as well as providing a more effective service for shoppers, workers, and visitors to the town.”

Smartzone builds on the successful alliance between Arriva and Carousel that resulted in jointly-operated routes from High Wycombe to Chesham, launched in 2013, and between Bourne End and High Wycombe, which started in 2018.

Simon Finnie, Area Managing Director for Arriva Midlands (South), said: “We’re really excited to be making bus travel simpler and more convenient for residents of High Wycombe. We hope that these new ticket products will allow new and existing customers to find the way of travelling that best fits into their lifestyles.”

Phil Southall, Carousel Buses Managing Director, said: “This is a great step forward. Improving access to buses and delivering an excellent passenger experience is a key part of our strategy. Joint ticketing will help make life easier for passengers and we’re delighted to launch this exciting initiative.”

Sample Smartzone fares: Adult day ticket, £4.60; adult week, £16.00; adult 10-journey anytime ticket, £18.00; adult four-weekly ticket, £55. Children’s tickets are expected to be introduced later in the year.