Bus passes - frequently asked questions | Oxfordshire County Council

Bus passes - frequently asked questions

General guidance about the use of bus passes for concessionary travel in Oxfordshire.

Wrong photo on a pass

If your pass has been sent out with the wrong photograph you need to send us an up-to-date colour passport photograph via our online change of photo form.

We will then be able to update our records and issue your pass which you will receive free of charge within 10 working days.

Please return the incorrect pass to Oxfordshire County Council, ENCTS, PO Box 842, Oxford, OX1 9LL.

In April 2012, we took over the concessionary bus pass system from the district councils. Some passes issued prior to this seem to be mismatched.

The pass is a standard national design. It contains a microchip, which stores information electronically. It will look like a credit card and includes your name and photograph:

Sample bus pass

How do I use my pass?

On most buses you just need to place your pass close to or on the smart card ticket machine beside the driver. When the machine recognises the pass as valid, it will ‘beep’ once and a light on the machine will change from amber to green. Your card doesn’t have to be taken out of any holder you may have put it in to be read by the ticket machine although the driver can still ask to see it to make sure it’s your pass.

If you travel on a bus without a smart card ticket machine, please show your pass to the driver. The driver will press a button to record your journey and may issue you with a nil value ticket.

How to replace a stolen pass

If your pass has been stolen, we will issue a replacement free of charge if you have a valid crime reference number. Reporting a non-urgent crime. If you don't have a valid number, you will need to pay a £10 replacement card fee.

Replace a stolen pass.

How to replace a lost pass

If you have lost your bus pass there is a £10 fee for issuing a replacement pass.

Request a replacement bus pass.

Requesting a replacement pass

Online is a fast route for replacing your bus pass and it will be sent to you via Royal Mail 1st Class post within 5 working days.

In person

You can take payment and proof to one of the following libraries:

This method will mean that it will take longer for your replacement pass to reach you.

While waiting for a replacement pass

While you are waiting for your replacement bus pass we are unable to offer temporary bus passes or refund the costs of travel. If you require bus travel during the period you are waiting for your bus pass please contact your local bus company for details of weekly season tickets, fares and routes.

My pass is faulty, what do I do?

If the smart card ticket machine does not accept your pass, you will need to order a replacement pass. If the pass is not visibly damaged, then we will replace it for free, but you will need to come and visit us at a main library location (see above for a list) for us to verify this.

You will need to complete a paper application form to request a replacement pass. When you apply for a replacement pass you do not need to submit another photo or any evidence of age, residency or disability.

If your pass is visibly damaged or defaced, we will make a £10 administration charge. Please make your cheque payable for £10 to 'Oxfordshire County Council' and send it with your application form to our Customer Service Centre, clearly writing your name, contact details and postcode on the reverse of the cheque.

Do you offer any alternatives to a bus pass?

We do not offer any alternatives to the off-peak bus pass. In the past district councils in Oxfordshire have offered travel tokens or contribution to a Railcard as an alternative to passes. If you have any existing tokens they may still be valid. To find out you will need to check with your district council.

What should I do when my bus pass is due to expire?

Older Person’s Bus Pass

Your bus pass is valid for up to five years. You will automatically receive a replacement bus pass, sent from our system two weeks before your current bus pass expires. Please contact us if your pass is due to expire within seven days and you have not yet received a replacement.

It is your responsibility to inform us if your address changes before your new card is sent out. If you fail to inform us in time you may be subject to a £10 administration charge to cover the cost of reissuing the pass.

Disabled Bus Pass

Unless you provided suitable evidence to prove that your disability is permanent, your pass will not be automatically renewed. You will need to reapply for your bus pass, and submit proofs where required, as per a new application.

If you are eligible for an auto-renewable pass you will receive your replacement bus pass, sent from our system two weeks before your current bus pass expires.

Companion Bus Pass

Unless you provided suitable evidence to prove that your disability is permanent, your pass will not be automatically renewed. You will need to reapply for your bus pass, and submit proofs where required, as per a new application.

If you are eligible for an auto-renewable pass you will receive your replacement bus pass, sent from our system two weeks before your current bus pass expires.

What should I do with my old pass?

When you receive a new bus pass, you should destroy your old bus pass once it has expired. If you try to use your new bus pass while your current one is still active, it will not work.

How long will it take you to process my pass?

It will take up to 15 working days provided all photos and proofs have been received. If any proofs, photos or details are unacceptable or missing from your application it will be returned to you and you will have to correct any errors and resubmit the form.

Should an application require additional information, such as from a doctor, a further delay may be expected. Please note that it is your responsibility to provide any further information that may be required to complete your application.

What happens if any of my details change?

If you change your name, significantly change your appearance or move either inside or outside of the Oxfordshire area you must notify us immediately.

If you move out of the county your pass should be returned to Oxfordshire County Council. You will need to re-apply for a pass to your new local authority.

When can I use it and what does off-peak travel mean?

You can use the pass any day, but there are restrictions on the times of travel that the DfT have set. Within Oxfordshire you can use your pass during the following times:

  • Monday to Friday 9am - 12am (midnight)
  • Saturday - anytime 
  • Sunday - anytime 
  • Bank Holidays - anytime

For any routes/areas outside Oxfordshire please check with the local bus operator.

Where can I travel with my bus pass?

You can travel anywhere in England on local buses during off-peak hours. Companion Bus Pass holders may not be entitled to free travel outside Oxfordshire.

Will I be able to enjoy free travel everywhere within the UK?

The pass only applies in England, not in Scotland, Wales or Ireland.

Is the pass only valid on buses?

Yes, as a general rule. The pass is for use on local bus services only, not scheduled coach services, ferries, trains or trams, or some community transport schemes. However, some exceptions do apply – you will need to check with the authority responsible for the county you are travelling in.

Can I use my bus pass on Park and Ride buses?

Yes, you can use your bus pass to travel on the Oxfordshire Park and Ride services. You will have to pay for parking at all of the Park and Ride car parks. More information is on our Park and Ride pages.

If I visit an area that offers additional services, like free travel on trains, or trams or travel outside the standard operating hours, will I be entitled to them?

This depends on the policy of the Local Transport Authority in the area in which you intend to travel. Please contact them for detailed information.

Does the pass work in London?

Within London, your pass can only be used on buses. Your pass will not be accepted on trams, Docklands Light Railway, London Underground or National Rail.

Concessionary bus passes from outside London

If you're from outside London and have a bus pass issued by another English council, you can use it to travel free on buses displaying the red roundel (the red emblem).

You should show your pass to the driver; at the moment they can't be read by the yellow card readers. If the bus you're on doesn't display the red roundel, check with the driver if you can use it.

Where can I get bus timetables?

Bus timetables are available from Traveline. Telephone 0871 200 2233 for details or visit www.travelinesoutheast.org.uk.


Many operators also offer further travel discounts for people who are elderly, disabled or unemployed, as well as to students and children. For further details on all of these schemes (including  multi-journey passes) please contact the individual operator.

For rail travel, various railcards are available: the Senior railcard, the Disabled person's railcard and the 16-25 railcard.


Last reviewed
13 July 2016
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