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Oxford Bus Company-Key Smart Card

Old Jan 24th, 2014, 07:29 PM
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Oxford Bus Company-Key Smart Card

Our hotel is on Banbury Rd., Summertown. We intend to take the public bus into the town of Oxford, the University of Oxford and to-and-from the Oxford Bus Station.I would like to purchase bus tickets at a discount price for our four-day stay.

The Key smart card seems to be a good choice for the two of us; however, I can't figure out which one to select: Park & Ride or City Zone. Is anyone familiar with the Key smart card?

This is an afterthought: We will be taking the Oxford Express from Heathrow Airport into the town of Oxford - should that be taken into consideration when purchasing a Key card?
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Old Jan 24th, 2014, 08:49 PM
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The park and ride is for folks who drive in from outside Oxford and park their cars in the park and ride lots on the outskirts
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Old Jan 24th, 2014, 08:57 PM
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From looking at the website I don't see that bus tickets are discounted. But it does look it gets you discounts at restaurants and things.

I haven't used one - maybe flanner will see your post and know more . .
But I'd just wait til you are in Oxford and ask at bus station or tourist office.

But the park and ride definitely won't apply
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Old Jan 24th, 2014, 10:03 PM
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Smartcards and properly liberalised local transport systems don't always make good bedfellows - especially for tourists.

Summertown is, as hotels might put it, "within easy walking distance of the centre". That is: it's short enough that lots of people often don't bother with the bus - but if it's raining or you've got luggage you might be tempted to grab a taxi rather than wait for a bus, since sometimes you might have to wait as long as 5 minutes till the next one comes.

Tickets into town are £1.70 single/£2.80 return, so you might think the numbers work out a no-brainer for four days. City Zone prices apply only to buses run by the Oxford Bus Company. The slightly higher Smart Zone prices include buses run by Stagecoach, and I can never remember which are which, but there are routes within normal visitors' trips round town operated by Stagecoach and for the extra quid I'd buy that if I had to (apart from anything else it means you can hop on the first bus that turns up, rather than wait for the right company to arrive).

One of the problems with Oxford's bus system is the operators' habit of inventing silly brand names for their services (then changing them every five or so years). There's no "Oxford Express" brand: the bus from Heathrow is called The Airline. For two of you, a smartcard offers no benefits on that service (it probably would if there were three of you, but that gets us into a wodge of practical problems about getting the card first)

At present, it's designed around local residents, for whom registering online is straightforward. I've no idea how that works in your case, and I THINK it's easiest to pick a card up from their franchised outlets (addresses and opening times at https://www.oxfordkey.co.uk/smart-ca...contact-us/58/).

This might prevent you from getting one till after you've arrived at your hotel, then gone back into town, but email them.

Do understand (it's something of a worldwide problem) that the practicalities of smartcards, especially on buses - and especially on multi-operator buses covering very rural locations - are evolving very rapidly, and may be slightly different in a few months' time.
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Old Jan 25th, 2014, 05:55 AM
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flanneruk, you are a wealth of knowledge. We will purchase the Smart Zone card that includes buses run by Stagecoach, as that seems to be the "smart" thing to do. I will search the Internet for an email address if I need further information.

Thank you for the link to the web site, which may satisfy me adequately prior to arriving in Oxford. You are so kind to take the time with my question and addess all my concerns.
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