Do Park and Rides, P&Rs Solve Traffic Problems in Cities like Bath?

 

 

Is Park and Ride the Answer to Bath’s Traffic Problems?

People often assume Park and ride (P&R) reduces congestion and air pollution. But does it really work, in the form usually used in the UK: a city edge car park, and dedicated buses? Of course, some people, who would otherwise have driven to the centre, park at the P&R (Meek, Ison and Enoch, 2011, found this was about a third of P&R users in Cambridge). However, some completely new trips to the city are generated because the P&R exists; some people on the P&R bus, would otherwise have cycled or walked to town; and some would have caught regular buses to the centre – if enough people switch from regular buses, they become unviable and may be cut (Parkhurst, 1995), resulting in further car trips. So, additional car trips are made from rural areas to the P&R, and, when combined with P&R buses running to and fro all day, may result in an increase in congestion and pollution, admittedly some of it distant from the city centre (Clayton et al., 2014).

Where new road infrastructure relieves congestion, it is known that before long, new traffic appears (suppressed demand) to fill spare capacity (Wood et al., 1994). In Oxford, after construction of a P&R, city centre congestion continued unchanged (Parkhurst, 1995), and there have been similar findings in other UK cities (Parkhurst, 1999). East of Bath (targeted by Bath and North East Somerset Council for a future P&R), academics (Clayton et al., 2014) have questioned whether population density in the outlying villages is high enough to make P&R viable.

Other designs of P&R exist, and some are better at reducing congestion and pollution. For example, car parks at stations along light rail services extending into the countryside, mean short car trips are combined with a longer public transport leg (Parkhurst and Meek, 2014). In summary, P&R only works to reduce congestion and pollution, where a design of this type is used, and where other measures are also taken to reduce car use and boost public transport.

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Sarah Warren has drafted this article on P&R for Bath Trams –

Sarah recently completed a MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation Planning, with a dissertation focusing on transport in Bath

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Note that it is well known that passenger numbers from a P&R will not economically justify a tram line. None of the tram lines shown on the Bath Trams website rely on or assume the presence of a P&R.

Dave Andrews

Bath Trams

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References

Clayton, W. et al. (2014) ‘Where to park? A behavioural comparison of bus-based park and ride and city centre car park usage in Bath, UK’, Journal of Transport Geography, 36(10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2014.03.011), pp. 124–133.

Meek, S., Ison, S. and Enoch, M. (2011) ‘Evaluating alternative concepts of bus-based park and ride’, Transport Policy, 18(2), pp. 456–467. doi: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2010.09.006.

Parkhurst, G. (1995) ‘Park and ride: Could it lead to an increase in car traffic?’, Transport Policy, 2(1), pp. 15–23. doi: 10.1016/0967-070X(95)93242-Q.

Parkhurst, G. (1999) ‘Environmental cost-benefits of bus-based park and ride systems-including a review of the travel effects of park and ride’’, ESRC TSU RESEARCH REPORT 1999/4. Available at: https://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=505460 (Accessed: 24 June 2017).

Parkhurst, G. and Meek, S. (2014) ‘The Effectiveness of Park-and-Ride as a Policy Measure for More Sustainable Mobility’, in Parking Issues and Policies. Emerald Group Publishing Limited (Transport and Sustainability, 5), pp. 185–211. Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/S2044-994120140000005020 (Accessed: 16 October 2015).

Wood, D. A. et al. (1994) Trunk roads and the generation of traffic. London: Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120830120423/http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/trunk-roads-and-the-generation-of-traffic/trunk-roads-traffic-report.pdf (Accessed: 9 March 2017).