How PlusBus is managed?

PlusBus ticketing is a National Rail ticketing product, which is an add-on to most types of train ticket. It can be bought at any National Rail station ticket office, online or from self-service ticket machines at selected stations. PlusBus is available for over 250 rail-served towns and cities across Britain. Interchange between train and bus is available through over 300 train stations. The product gives the customer unlimited bus and tram travel (on participating operators services) around the whole urban area of the rail-served town or city. There are no peak period restrictions, so customers can hop-on and hop-off buses and trams as much as they like. PlusBus provides customers with an opportunity to combine all public transport modes and contributes to a seamless door-to-door journey.

The key customer benefits of PlusBus are:-

  • it offers standard public transport ticketing across all of Britain,
  • it is valid on most / all bus and tram operators services across the urban area of the rail-served town or city,
  • there are no peak period restrictions,
  • it's great value - our average adult day ticket price is £3.25,
  • holders of most types of Railcard get one-third off PlusBus day ticket prices.

As well as day tickets, season tickets (for 7-days, a month, 3-months and a year) are available for most locations, to match rail season ticket validity. The PlusBus prices are determined by the participating operators in each locations scheme (to comply with competition law governing bus fares).

PlusBus ticketing provides an important link between the National Rail network and several regional airports, such as: Bournemouth, Doncaster/Sheffield, Exeter, Leeds/Bradford and Liverpool. It also offers National Rail connectivity for a number of towns without a train station e.g. Dunstable (population 37k); Gateshead (pop. 220k) and Gosport (pop. 82k).

To view PlusBus locations, ticket prices and participating operators, click here > 

PlusBus is an operator-led initiative of Britain’s leading bus and train operating groups. It was designed to show that these commercial businesses are working together to provide their customers with a nation-wide public transport information and ticketing scheme (without the need for Government legislation or other intervention). PlusBus took approximately three years to establish and was launched to the public in May 2002 for 35 locations. A further five years product development took place, mainly extending its coverage to over 250 locations, introducing season tickets and establishing online retailing.

PlusBus is a nationally co-ordinated scheme managed by the Journey Solutions partnership. This partnership includes a representative from each of the five main bus and rail groups: Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach, plus a representative from the independent / municipal bus sector (through ALBUM). The Confederation of Passenger Transport and the Rail Delivery Group also have one Journey Solutions partner.

Through the Rail Delivery Group (and use of the rail fares and ticketing systems) all Train Operating Companies participate in PlusBus. Participation in PlusBus for bus and tram operators is voluntary, even so across Britain over 200* bus companies and 5 tram operators participate. This makes PlusBus the largest multi-operator ticketing scheme in the country. There are 70 'Local Scheme Coordinators' (LSCs), who are responsible for the local management of PlusBus schemes. The Journey Solutions partnership and the Rail Delivery Group have legal agreements in place with all participants governing fares protocols and revenue distribution. Note: * = 65 large companies (PLC Groups); 6 Local Authority owned; 130 independent/SME companies.

PlusBus ticket sales revenue is distributed between participating bus operators in two stages. The initial revenue distribution for PlusBus is managed by the RDG Technical Support through the Rail Settlement Plan. At a PlusBus local scheme level, the Local Scheme Coordinator (usually an employee of the main bus operator, local authority or multi-operator ticketing company) undertakes a further local revenue apportionment between all the participating bus and tram operators (in accordance with the Transport Ticketing Block Exemption guidelines).

The role of Journey Solutions partnership in managing PlusBus can be summarised:

  • Information: Providing systems to advise train travellers (as well as bus and rail staff) of onward travel options – of services, operators, PlusBus ticket availability and fares available.
  • Marketing: Managing campaigns and channels to raising awareness and generate sales of PlusBus tickets to new and existing customers.
  • Retailing: Working with the Rail Delivery Group and Train Operating Companies to develop the retail channels through which PlusBus tickets are sold to consumers and to develop the fulfilment methods used.
  • Data: Managing all the various inputs to the information, ticketing, website and revenue systems.
  • Scheme: Ensuring that the necessary operators participate and that legal agreements are in-place to manage and sustain the initiative. Monitor and report sales results.
  • Strategy: Providing strategic direction for the partnership and for PlusBus future development.

PlusBus achievements PlusBus demonstrates that Britains' commerical bus and train operators are working together to deliver a nationwide multi-modal and multi-operator information and ticketing service for the benefit of passengers.

This has been achieved without the need for Government legislation, funding or onerous franchise obligations.

Each year around 620,000 PlusBus tickets are sold.


Updated: 11/03/2021