Thursday 25 August 2011

Cambridge busway (2) - fares and tickets

All buses operating on the busway are equipped with ticket machines which are used at ordinary stops off the busway. However tickets must be pre-purchased from a machine at busway stops. This complicated by two factors. First you must choose which operator's bus you want to travel on and secondly OAP passes are not processed by the machine - OAPs 'pay' the driver but this is not made clear.
The first prompt on the machine is 'Stagecoach' or 'Whippet'. The PID only displays the service letter, the destination and the departure time. So armed with this information it is necessary to walk along the platform to the map which says that services A and B are Stagecoach and C is Whippet. The next display asks for your intended destination but it is necessay to scroll down using a small arrow at the bottom left to find most stops. It is then necessary to choose a ticket type but no mention is made of OAP passes. Payment can then be made by coins, notes or bank cards.
When the bus arrives fare paying passengers can board quickly but OAPs have to put their card onto the drivers ticket machine and wait for it to issue a ticket. This caused endless confusion for the family groups trying out the new service during the school holidays. It is a cheap dayout for grandchildren but the two different methods of payment are confusing.
St Ives park and ride. The ticket machines areon the right and the map on the left.

At Trumpington there is a further complication. The park and ride site is shared with a long-standing service operated by conventional Stagecoach buses for which older, coin only, machines are used.

The guided buses take an indirect route via Addenbrooke's Hospital. The fare to Cambridge was shown as £2.20 single compared with £2.40 return on the conventional buses. A notice had been stuck onto the machine offering a £2.50 return to Addenbooke's - pay the driver!