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First Group operates buses between Reading and London Heathrow. One of their tickets is a day return.

What are the times for a "day" in a day return? Can I take the 00:05 bus back from Heathrow to Reading on a day return, even though 00:05 is technically the next day?

I think that for trains, a "day" is often defined as running from 04:00 to 04:00, which would make sense here as well, considering that their first bus to the airport departs 04:00, whereas the last bus back departs 00:05, but it's not clearly written on their website.

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(Notice for future readers: The following is based on an interpretation of FirstGroup's terms and condition. For what happens in reality, please see @gerrit's answer.)


In their trading terms, FirstGroup mentioned the following when they clarify validity of mobile tickets:

4.2. To avoid confusion, the validity of mobile tickets is the same as for traditional paper variants. i.e. the first day of validity refers to the remainder of the day of activation and a period of grace is given beyond midnight to allow local services to complete, and not a 24 hour period from the point of activation. [...]

Hence, a "day" for FirstGroup ticketing purposes ends at midnight (unlike TfL which is 04:30), and a day ticket's validity immediately after midnight rely on a grace period provided by FirstGroup.

If I understand the definition of "grace period" correctly, it means one should be able to take the 00:05 bus back to Reading with their day ticket acquired the day before.

This period of grace is implemented on their electronic ticketing system, mTicket. In their FAQ, they've mentioned:

If you're using a day return ticket it will expire at around 2am.

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    Of course, you can push further and see if they sell you a day return on the 00:05 Heathrow to Reading service, and use that for the return leg to Heathrow when the sun rises again. – B.Liu Sep 25 '18 at 5:25
  • As for what would happen in reality, that would depend on the bus driver at Heathrow. – gerrit Oct 5 '18 at 11:33
  • That would have taken an unfortunately soul to find out, when they least expect it during a late night trip... – B.Liu Oct 5 '18 at 11:46
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I received a phone call from FirstBus in response to my query, which I also asked them directly.

The gentleman on the phone told me that the Day Return expires at midnight, and that I would have to buy a period return or two singles for the ticket to be valid in this situation.

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