Pteg Oxford SmartZone review

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Pteg has completed a review of the Oxford SmartZone scheme which was implemented in 2011.

It claimed detailed analysis of the overall bus ticketing offer in Oxford and the surrounding area highlighted a number of potential weaknesses of an operator-led solution. One issue was that pricing is jointly determined by Go-Ahead and Stagecoach, without any oversight or involvement from third parties.

Pteg also argued that SmartZone had made only a modest contribution towards simplifying the existing public transport fare structure, and could have made ‘an already complex ticketing offer even more complicated.’

“In addition to fare structure complexity, the SmartZone system also suffers from lack of common branding or consistent marketing and information, which contribute to a confusing user experience,” the review said.

Pteg said: “SmartZone is not a truly integrated solution or a common smart ticketing platform; it is an inter-operable ticketing agreement between the two dominant groups valid across a relatively narrow geographical area. A true multi-operator ticketing product valid across Oxford’s travel to work area does not exist and neither is SmartZone a multi-modal product at present.”

The SmartZone operators, Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach and Thames Travel, said they felt that not all of the conclusions reached in the review were factually correct and that pteg’s review would have been better informed had it consulted the local operators and local authorities in Oxford and understood the context of the scheme.

In a joint statement the SmartZone operators said: “Every smartcard scheme has to reflect the market in which it is delivered.

“The Oxford SmartZone scheme has been in place for nearly four years now and 98% of users were either satisfied or very satisfied with the product according to the Passenger Focus Report published in September 2013.

“Pteg criticise the scheme as it is not multi modal but it serves a local transport market within Oxford which is only served by buses. There is nothing about the scheme which would prevent it becoming multi modal if required.

“We accept that elements of the marketing of the scheme can be improved upon to increase awareness and more work will be done in this area.”