15 August 2009

Plusbus expansion

The Plusbus scheme has been around for a couple of years. Its premise is simple: rail passengers can purchase an add-on to their train ticket that entitles them to travel on most operators' services in the town or city to which they're travelling. Additional tickets are not needed, simply '+ BUS' is added to the main train ticket and it is this that is shown to the bus driver upon boarding.

You may have seen a sticker similar to this on the window of your local bus into town. It shows rail passengers they are welcome with their Plusbus ticket.

Up until the start of this month, Plusbus add-ons were only purchasable from rail stations. This changed when two websites started to offer them for online purchases. QJump and First Transpennine Express should be congratulated wholeheartedly for being the frontrunners in this scheme.

In so doing, they've made the UK the first country in Europe to offer an online 'one-stop shop' for the purchase of integrated journey tickets. By the autumn, we understand all train operators' websites, including the so-called impartial ones (thetrainline et al) will have followed suit.

The online purchase of Plusbus tickets was a key recommendation of a report called 'Door-to-door by public transport - Improving integration between National Rail and other public transport services', produced by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) and the five largest bus and train operators in the UK (all of whom part-comprise ATOC).

Some operators have painted their buses in this green Plusbus livery to promote the scheme. Seen here in London Victoria (and normally a coach!) is an Arriva Wright-bodied Volvo.

Plusbus is currently available at 265 towns and cities throughout Britain that have a railway station. Day, week, month, three-month and annual tickets are available for adult fares, with some types valid for children and Railcard holders. Season tickets are also available for most locations, too. It really is a superb concept and one that has recently been pushed quite hard. From those in the LEYTR area, the add-on for the Day version is usually the same as an equivalent day rover/rider for the respective area, though in Hull for example, travel on both Stagecoach and EYMS services is permitted - unlike each other's own day tickets.

Child day tickets are available - something many bus operators do not offer. Railcard holders also receive 34% off, too. If you're over 60 and resident in Wales and travelling to with a Senior Railcard to Rugby, for £2 extra, unlimited travel on all bus services operated by Stagecoach in Warwickshire, De Courcey Travel, Woods Coaches, First and A&M Group is permitted. The standard price is £3. Since your Welsh National Concessionary bus pass is not accepted in England, you do receive 33% discount purchasing Plusbus for use in England.

A child travelling from Lincoln to Cleethorpes can have Plusbus added to his/her ticket for £1.45 extra - that's £1.45 for unlimited travel on Stagecoach buses in Cleethorpes (and Grimsby) when, for residents therein, only the £2.90 adult version is available. For those holidaying along the Lincolnshire Coast, week versions are available - and in the Skegness area, too.

When purchasing your online train ticket from either QJump for First Transpennine Express, you'll be prompted for the Plusbus add-on after you've specified your journey and fare. There's no need to type '+ BUS' after your destination station's name. The options available for your chosen ticket type are automatically shown. The Day version is also available for single fares.

Bus drivers know to accept your rail ticket for travel provided in the 'To' section '+BUS' is printed. In the example above, 'Milton Keynes+BUS' can clearly be seen.

And if you're not too sure what exactly constitutes Rugby or Cleethorpes, the Plusbus website shows the zonal maps in which respective travel is permitted.

We'll do a full round-up of what is available and for how much in the LEYTR area in our next edition. (GL)

Plusbus website
QJump website
First Transpennine Express website