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Bus FAQs page

Why are you offering two-months free bus travel?

We’re on a mission to get Essex moving and choosing more sustainable alternatives to car travel. We’ve partnered up with local bus operators across Essex to help make this happen by providing regular car users the opportunity to trial swapping the car for the bus, free for eight weeks. There are so many reasons to consider swapping the car for the bus, including saving money on petrol and parking, reducing our environmental impact and helping to improve the air quality and traffic across our towns. Not to mention the fact that it’s a better use of travel time (you can’t read a book or have a quick nap while driving to work), and it’s a way to support our local bus operators who provide vital transport services across our county during a difficult period for the bus industry. Every swap really does help. It’s a win-win for you, our county and our planet. We hope you’ll give it a GO!

Who is funding Stop.Swap.GO! Bus?

Stop.Swap.GO! Bus is a pilot campaign funded by Essex County Council, Mid and South Essex University Hospitals Group, and four local bus operators: Arriva, First Essex, Hedingham and Stephensons of Essex.

How do I get a free ticket? At the moment, all of our free two-month bus tickets have been taken up. If you are lucky enough to have bagged one of our free, two-month bus tickets, you will be contacted by us via email and text to let you know when your ticket is ready, on its way and how to redeem it. For First Essex, Hedingham and Stephensons of Essex tickets, you will need to have access to an app store (Apple Store or Google Play Store), mobile data or Wi-Fi connection, and space on your phone to download and use the relevant ticketing app.

As the campaign is currently a pilot to test our initiative, we may have more tickets to offer in future. To be kept up to date about upcoming Stop.Swap.GO! campaigns, news and info, register to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

When is my ticket valid?

Our free, two-month bus tickets will be valid from Monday 4 October 2021 until midnight on Sunday 28 November 2021.

Where and when can I use my ticket?

Your free ticket can be used on any route provided by your designated bus operator within Essex at any time during the validity period. You can use the journey planner as part of the ticketing app or visit the operator’s website to help you plan your journey and find routes, services and timetable information. Google Maps is a great place to start, too! You can also use your free ticket on our other partnering operators’ services. Just show the driver your ticket, quote Stop.Swap.GO! and ask for a receipt before you take your seat. I want/need to use another bus operators service. Can I use my Stop.Swap.GO! ticket to do this?

Yes, you can – as long as you’re getting on board with a Stop.Swap.GO! partner operator (First Essex, Arriva, Hedingham or Stephensons of Essex) and your ticket is valid. Just show your Stop.Swap.GO! ticket to the driver, quote Stop.Swap.GO! and ask for a receipt. We’d like to thank our partnering operators for allowing this to happen as part of our pilot campaign. We really want bus travel to be easier for everyone and understand that sometimes it’s hard to get the bus because services don’t always go where we need them to. We hope that by allowing customers to travel across all services and operators as part of Stop.Swap.GO!, it makes bus better and more accessible for us all – and might help to make this a standard way of using the bus in the future. Wouldn’t that be great?

Can other people use my ticket?

No. Your unique promo code and ticket can only be used by you and cannot be gifted or transferred to anyone else.

I’m struggling to use the operator’s ticketing app – what do I do?

If you are having difficulties using your promo code to get your free bus ticket, please contact Team Stop.Swap.GO! by emailing If you are having trouble using your ticket because of problems with the app, or with other app functionality such as journey planners etc, please contact your operator’s customer service or app support team. Details below.

-   First Bus:

-   Arriva:

-   Hedingham: -  Stephensons: I’m unsure which bus to get and where from? Can you help?

You can get journey planning information including bus times and bus stop locations via your operator’s website or their ticketing app. See our operator pages for app details – First Essex, Arriva, Hedingham and Stephensons of Essex.

Another easy way to find out which bus stop and service is best for you is to use Google Maps. Simply type in your starting location and end destination and click the “Transit” icon (looks like a train). You can then filter your route option by bus and all available services, including how to get to your nearest bus stop, will appear.

I’ve lost my ticket – what do I do? If you’ve lost or deleted your ticket, please let us know and we’ll do our best to help. Email us at

It’s a good idea to make a note of your promo code number – or your Arriva Smart Card serial number – to help us resolve any lost ticketing issues, should you have any.

Do I need to follow Covid guidelines whilst using the bus?

At the moment it isn’t mandatory by law to socially distance or wear a mask when out in public, however some operators may politely request that you do whilst using their services. It’s always worth keeping a mask at hand just in case, and courteous to give other passengers space where possible. For the most up-to-date information on what operators require of passengers – and how they are keeping passengers safe – please visit their website and/or social media pages.

How do the weekly prize draws work?

For every bus trip you make using your Stop.Swap.GO! ticket, you’ll gain an entry into our weekly prize draw to win a Love2Shop or e-voucher worth £50.00. The more you use your free ticket, the more chances you’ll have of winning.

Lucky winners will be notified by text and email after each prize draw. Keep your eyes peeled!

Please note: trips made on other operators’ services will not be counted in the prize draws. For example, if your ticket is for First Bus but you make one trip using Arriva, your Arriva trip will not be counted for that week’s prize draw, unfortunately. This is owing to current ticketing system limitations (your operator’s ticket will not be recognised on another’s), but it’s something we hope to resolve should we run this campaign again in the future.

Why am I receiving text messages from Stop.Swap.GO!?

We need to message you occasionally to let you know when your ticket is ready, remind you about our prize draws and contact you if you’re a lucky prize draw winner. We’d recommend that you stay opted-in to our texts so you don’t miss out on anything, but you can opt-out of text messages at any time by following the opt-out message on the text. For full terms and conditions relating to Stop.Swap.GO! Bus and your free two-month ticket, please click here.

How do I continue to use the bus after my free two-month trial?

The easiest way to buy a new ticket is via the bus operator’s ticketing app. Tickets can also be purchased online via the operator’s website, or on the day by asking your driver. Don’t forget to check out your bus operator’s website and newsletters for deals and offers so you can keep on saving as you GO!

Will there be other opportunities to trial the bus with Stop.Swap.GO!?

We hope so! At the moment, Stop.Swap.GO! Bus is a pilot campaign and once the campaign ends, we’ll be regrouping to understand how useful our free two-month bus tickets were and what Essex residents want and need from their bus services and operators. We may have more tickets to offer in future following this.

To be kept up to date about upcoming Stop.Swap.GO! campaigns, news and info, register to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

I have more questions

For more information about Stop.Swap.GO! please contact: We’re here to help.