Ticketing terms & conditions

Last updated July 2021

Our tickets

You are responsible for making sure you allow plenty of time to get to your destination (or to places where you are picking up connections to continue your journey) and for using the correct bus stops when travelling.  

In order to travel with us you must purchase a valid ticket or hold a valid pass or permit for the journey you wish to undertake.  At no time will you be permitted to travel on our bus or coach if that ticket, pass or permit (i) has been altered, copied or defaced; (ii) has been issued to a person different from the person who is travelling on our vehicle (other than where such ticket, pass or permit states it is transferrable); (iii) has expired, or (iv) is not in a sealed pouch where this is a requirement.

If you buy a ticket when you board our services, you should ensure you are given a new ticket directly from the ticket machine which corresponds with the amount paid and covers you for the entire journey you wish to make.  Should you purchase a key top up or other product online or at one of our travel shops, you should confirm you have selected the correct product prior to completing payment, or in the case of travel shops, prior to leaving the premises.

It is also important to check any change and point out any discrepancies to the driver at the point of purchase as it will not be possible for us to correct any mistake later.  Whilst we will aim to always have sufficient change available, we reserve the right to not accept or give change for notes of denominations of £20 or more. 

Please keep your ticket, Smartcard, pass or permit to travel throughout the journey you are making as a Company Official may ask to inspect your ticket. If you fail to produce a valid authority to travel for the full length of the journey, you will be liable to pay the Standard Fare. Please see the section "Standard Fares" below for more information. Please note that we will be unable to refund your fare should you later find the missing ticket or pass. 

All tickets, passes and permits remain the property of Carousel Buses and may be withdrawn at any time.  

The issue of a ticket should not be regarded as an undertaking by us that that our buses or coaches will run at any time or at all or that there shall be sufficient space on the bus for you to board.

If a customer is found to be fraudulently using, copying, producing or adapting our range of tickets, passes and permits to travel that customer will be liable to prosecution by us.  

All of our drivers have full details of fare information and these details are available on request.  Further, all of our fares are set out on our website and are also available at our operator’s offices (the address of each is located at the end of these Conditions).

The types of fares available will [depend on the service provided but include]:

Single Fare:  this is valid for a one way journey between two points on the same bus or coach on ONE route only:  a journey cannot be broken using the same ticket other than where there is an interchange between different bus operators for that single fare.

Day Return Fare:  all return fares issued on local buses and Park& Ride bus services are valid for one outward and one return journey only.

o These tickets are only valid for travel on the day and date of issue and up to [3:30am] on the following calendar morning of the date on the ticket.

o Return tickets are not valid for two journeys in the same direction.

Season Tickets

o These tickets are valid for travel only between the points shown on the ticket, or intermediately, via the route shown.

o These tickets are not transferable and, if it is transferred or attempted to be transferred, we will confiscate and both you and the person to whom it was transferred or attempted to be transferred will be liable to prosecution as this is in breach of the law.

o Should the season ticket be stolen, you must notify us immediately by contacting Customer Services. Whilst you are not automatically entitled to a duplicate ticket, we may issue a duplicate ticket for the remaining period of that season ticket (less and administration and handling fees we incur).

o If the season ticket is subsequently found, you must return that duplicate at once to the relevant bus operator.

o Refunds will not be made in respect of Christmas or Boxing Day, any other statutory holidays, any other days on which it can be foreseen that no service will be provided or days on which the Company has advertised a suspension of service.  

In the event of suspension of services because of strikes, labour disputes, emergency or adverse weather conditions, any refund or extension of a season ticket will be entirely at our discretion.

Child Fares 

o You, a fare paying, concessionary pass holding or key card holding passenger who is also a responsible adult, agree that you will be responsible for the conduct of those children and you will ensure that those children comply with these Conditions.

o Under [five] years of age: up to two children (on local buses) or up to three children (on Park&Ride) are permitted to travel free at all times whilst accompanying you and you are a fare paying, a concessionary pass holding or a key card holding passenger.

Senior Citizens and eligible disabled

o If you are a senior citizen, you may qualify for free travel on eligible local bus services where concessionary fare schemes apply.  We accept English National Concessionary Travel Scheme passes for travel on all of our registered local bus services.  We do not accept cards from Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands and Northern Irelands as these are not valid for travel on our services. 

o Where such schemes do exist, we are required to comply with the relevant terms and conditions laid down by the local authority.  However, if you are travelling under a concessionary fare scheme, we agree to carry you on our buses upon these terms:  by boarding our bus, you agree to comply to these Conditions.

o It is your responsibility to prove your entitlement to these concessions when wishing to travel on our buses.  This can be done by placing your English National Concessionary Travel Scheme pass on the smartcard reader on our buses for electronic verification.  If our buses are not fitted with such readers, you should produce your pass to the driver for authentication.

o If you are not in possession of an English National Concessionary Travel Scheme pass, you will be required to pay the appropriate adult fare.

o Full details of the scheme are available by contacting the relevant local authority.

• Other points of which you should be aware when using a ticket:

o Day Tickets issued on the bus are valid for 24 hours from the time of issue (and the time and date are printed on the ticket)

o One Week tickets are valid until the close of service on the seventh day of use (the date of purchase constitutes the first of seven days of validity and the date of expiry is printed on the ticket)

o Flash Pass tickets are valid for travel only within the validity dates stamped on the pass and the zone(s) indicated.  They are valid for you to use only and you must show the Flash Passes to the driver for authentication.  

o Fares are arranged in stages and, if you get on a bus at a stop between stages, you will be charged as from the previous stage.  Similarly, passengers getting off between stages will be charged to the next stage.

o You can purchase tickets on the internet and these become invalid if not used within six months of the date of purchase or within 2 months in the case of “the key” smartcard if not collected (key card tapped on card machine on the bus).

o Certain vouchers, normally issued by the bus operator, can be accepted instead of cash or as part payment for a ticket.  Details of the vouchers cash value will be set out on the voucher. 

Vouchers must be exchanged with the driver to obtain the valid ticket for travel. 

o You must not override the validity for the ticket or pass you have purchased. Should you be found to be travelling further than your ticket entitles you to you will be required to pay the Standard Fare (see heading "Standard Fares" below).

o Tickets are not transferable other than in exceptional cases.  You should apply to our customer services team if you believe your circumstances have changed and you would like to transfer your ticket to another person.

o We are not obliged to replace your ticket, pass or permit to travel if it is lost, mislaid or stolen:  a new ticket needs to be purchased to allow you to use our services.   In the case of Smartcards, it is within our discretion as to whether or not a replacement will be issued (and / or if an administrative charge will be incurred by you for such replacement).

o If your ticket is spoiled or tampered, it will be invalid for travel and, if you attempt to travel with that ticket, you will be considered to have travelled without a valid ticket.

If your ticket is spoiled or tampered prior to travel, then we may replace your ticket if you ask for a replacement a reasonable time before your travel and you provide to us proof of purchase, your identity and a reasonable explanation as to why your ticket was spoiled or tampered.  We may refuse to replace your ticket if it is reasonable to do so.  We may also charge a reasonable administration fee for replacing tickets.

o Requests for refunds on tickets or passes purchased will be made at our discretion and will be subject to an administration fee. Refunds will be considered if there is a dispute between you and a driver or company officer regarding the correct fare: you must pay the fare requested and refer the dispute to the relevant bus operator and a refund will be made if there is a legitimate error.

Please note that we will not offer refunds on single or day return tickets purchased on local or park&ride services.

Standard Fares

Carousel Buses operates a Standard Fare system, in order to protect the majority of our customers who travel with a valid ticket. Travelling without a valid ticket or permit to travel drives up the cost of bus travel which is unfair on the majority of honest passengers. The Standard Fare aims to reduce this.

Should you be found to be travelling without a valid authority to travel for the full length of your journey, you will be issued with a Notice to Pay the Standard Fare. This will be £100, or £50 if paid within 7 days. This can be paid directly to the inspector, or alternatively by visiting www.oxfordbustickets.co.uk/pay-standard-fare.

Key Smartcards

Carousel Buses uses smartcards.  The “key” is a smartcard which makes travelling by bus easier, cheaper and more secure.  Details of our smartcards can be found on our website (details of which are located at the end of these Conditions).

Use of the key Smartcard (“the Smartcard”) is subject to these Terms and Conditions together with Carousel Buses Conditions of Carriage. “Carousel Buses” is operated by City of Oxford Motor Services, Limited (“the Company”).

• When you are issued with the Smartcard, you are able to store credits for Carousel Buses services. Each time you use it to obtain a service, the number of credits on the Smartcard is decreased accordingly (unless you have an unlimited use product, which will expire after the number of days you have bought have ended). You cannot use the Smartcard unless it has enough credits on it, or time to run, and you are responsible for keeping it recharged.

• Multi-trip travel credits (including the “Any 5 Day” products) are valid for 6 months from the date of purchase. Unused travel credits will expire after 6 months, including the purchase date. No refunds will be given for travel-credits which remain unused after this time. However, if you add further travel credits to your card by topping up with further trips, the life of all trips remaining on the card at that point will be extended for 6 months from the date of topping up.

• Smartcards with a time based product on them are valid for the period purchased, starting from the date of first use. Unused travel credits will expire and be forfeited after 6 months.

• The website will not be updated with the number of trips left on a Smartcard until the Smartcard has been presented to the reader on a bus following any Smartcard top-up. Update of the website may take up to 48 hours.

• The Smartcard does not hold money, and is not a stored value card.

• Drivers and officials of Carousel Buses may inspect the Smartcard at any time and they must be shown on request.

• All Smartcards remain the property of Carousel Buses. We reserve the right to withdraw individual Smartcards, and the key service generally, at any time.

• The registered holder of a Smartcard agrees to inform us in writing of any change to their name, address or other details (either by telephone, post or e-mail to [email protected], or by editing your contact details through our website). This will enable contact to be made to issue a replacement for a lost Smartcard (if registered) or return a found Smartcard (if not cancelled).

• Smartcards are transferable. However, the user must fit the same criteria if the Smartcard is a concessionary card such as the Young Person’s card. It is the User’s responsibility to carry valid ID.

• If there has been no use of a Smartcard for one year then the Smartcard will automatically be cancelled. You may apply in writing for a refund, or a new Smartcard at a cost of £5.

• Damaged or lost Smartcards can be replaced. A minimum fee of £5 will be charged for each replacement Smartcard.

• If we believe your Smartcard has been tampered with in any way we may withdraw it without refunding the remaining value. A driver or other official of Carousel Buses is entitled to retain any Smartcard which they believe has been tampered with, is being misused or which has become electronically unreadable. Where a card has become corrupt, we will replace it.


o You must take care of the Smartcard, and ensure that it is not crushed or folded, is not placed near any strong magnetic or electric fields, allowed to get wet or exposed to extremes of temperature.

o On boarding a bus, the Smartcard must be placed on or near the card reader so that the reader indicates it has been properly read by making an audible “bleep” and showing a green light. Only when you have received a positive confirmation of reading are you treated as having made valid payment for that journey.

o The use of a Smartcard for which you do not meet the required criteria (e.g. an 18 & under pass being used by an individual over the age of 18) will be treated as fraud and will result in the immediate confiscation of the Smartcard. Smartcards confiscated for misuse will not be returned.

 • Top ups via the internet

o If you top up your Smartcard over the internet using the site www.carouselkey.co.uk you must allow 3 hours for the top up to be available on the bus to upload on to your card.

o Online top ups must be collected on the bus within 2 months of purchase. After this time the top up may no longer available to collect on our bus readers and may need to be re-actioned.

Lost or stolen cards

o The loss, theft or failure of a Smartcard must be notified to Carousel Buses as soon as possible. This can be done by telephoning 01494 450 151.

o We cannot prevent the unauthorised use of a lost or stolen Smartcard until it has been reported by the registered holder to customer services, when it will be cancelled. (Cancellation may take up to 48 hours to come into effect). Until it is cancelled, you will be liable for any unauthorised use of the Smartcard.

o The Company will not be liable for any travel costs incurred between the reporting of a lost or stolen card and the receipt of your replacement Smartcard.

o Once cancelled, a Smartcard cannot be “re-activated”. 

Replacement Cards

o A replacement Smartcard will be issued at a minimum charge of £5. Only travel products loaded by us will be loaded on to the replacement card. 

o Smartcards that are issued anonymously, i.e. those which are issued without personal details being supplied by the individual purchasing the Smartcard, are non-replaceable.

Corrupt and Damaged Card Policy

o Where a Smartcard is faulty and the fault is not because of your failure to take care of it, we will replace it free of charge and will endeavour to replace any unused credits.

o Where a card malfunctions because we reasonably believe it has been misused or it's incurred physical damage in your possession, we reserve the right to charge a minimum of £5 for its replacement. We will endeavour to replace any unused credits.

o Irrespective of the policy above, we reserve the right to withdraw the card at any time.


o Refunds are only granted in exceptional circumstances and are entirely at the discretion of the Company. Refunds must be applied for in writing. If granted, a refund will always be calculated on a non pro-rata basis which fairly accounts for the travel you have used. A £5 administration charge will be made for all refunds. “Refunds” are not to be confused with the transfer of outstanding credits from a lost, stolen, or damaged Smartcard.

o Products of four weeks or less, or 12 trips or less, will not be refunded.

o Requests for refunds will be dealt with within 28 days, though the timeframe for receiving the refund may be longer.

o Refunds for purchases made using PayPal will not be considered more than 180 days after the date of purchase.

Data Protection

o Please see our Privacy Policy.

Carousel Buses reserves the right to vary these Terms and Conditions from time to time.