Bristol's Empty Park-and-Ride

September 01, 2011 1:04 PM

Park-and-Ride is the mantra for spending millions of taxpayers' money on transport schemes that are supposed to be good for the environment, but what if no one uses them? In Bristol, the Stoke Gifford car park near Bristol Parkway station has been open for three months, cost £1.3 million of taxpayers' money and has been used by precisely 139 motorists. ‘It’s gone off half-cock,’ said one councillor, ‘and made the council look stupid.’ Surely not?

[caption id="attachment_40138" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Another busy day at Stoke Gifford"][/caption]One of the reasons it’s not busy, apparently, is that it wasn’t promoted. ‘Nobody knows it is there,’ said the same councillor, presumably wanting more taxpayers’ money to advertise it. Another councillor blamed the fact that increased parking regulations had not been brought in at the same time in the surrounding area. That is, he wanted more double-yellow lines painted on residential streets so that local drivers would be forced to park there, paying £5 a day for parking that would have been otherwise free on their own streets. That doesn’t seem quite right either and is an additional needless cost to the taxpayer.

Of course, it doesn’t help that there is no bus service running from the car park. But that needs more taxpayers money too, some £250m of funding to link the car park into the Bus Rapid Transit route to take people into the city. In the meantime, South Gloucestershire Council’s own figures for 2009-2010 reveal that the amount of people using park-and-ride is on a downward trajectory, while overall patronage of city centre bus services is down as well.

It is always interesting to note on occasions like this how councils justified the enormous expense in the first place. At a South Gloucestershire Council meeting earlier this year, when one councillor expressed his own doubts, saying ‘I am not sure what the benefits of having a Park & Ride at Parkway Station is,’ he was slapped down by a council officer saying: ‘Parkway North Park & Ride contributes to continued economic growth in South Gloucestershire and specifically reducing traffic congestion.’ Well, the one place there is definitely no congestion is in the road leading to the Stoke Gifford Park-and-Ride!Park-and-Ride is the mantra for spending millions of taxpayers' money on transport schemes that are supposed to be good for the environment, but what if no one uses them? In Bristol, the Stoke Gifford car park near Bristol Parkway station has been open for three months, cost £1.3 million of taxpayers' money and has been used by precisely 139 motorists. ‘It’s gone off half-cock,’ said one councillor, ‘and made the council look stupid.’ Surely not?

[caption id="attachment_40138" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Another busy day at Stoke Gifford"][/caption]One of the reasons it’s not busy, apparently, is that it wasn’t promoted. ‘Nobody knows it is there,’ said the same councillor, presumably wanting more taxpayers’ money to advertise it. Another councillor blamed the fact that increased parking regulations had not been brought in at the same time in the surrounding area. That is, he wanted more double-yellow lines painted on residential streets so that local drivers would be forced to park there, paying £5 a day for parking that would have been otherwise free on their own streets. That doesn’t seem quite right either and is an additional needless cost to the taxpayer.

Of course, it doesn’t help that there is no bus service running from the car park. But that needs more taxpayers money too, some £250m of funding to link the car park into the Bus Rapid Transit route to take people into the city. In the meantime, South Gloucestershire Council’s own figures for 2009-2010 reveal that the amount of people using park-and-ride is on a downward trajectory, while overall patronage of city centre bus services is down as well.

It is always interesting to note on occasions like this how councils justified the enormous expense in the first place. At a South Gloucestershire Council meeting earlier this year, when one councillor expressed his own doubts, saying ‘I am not sure what the benefits of having a Park & Ride at Parkway Station is,’ he was slapped down by a council officer saying: ‘Parkway North Park & Ride contributes to continued economic growth in South Gloucestershire and specifically reducing traffic congestion.’ Well, the one place there is definitely no congestion is in the road leading to the Stoke Gifford Park-and-Ride!

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