The Effects of Park and Ride Supply and Pricing on Public Transport Demand

2 Introduction

Background to the study

2.1 Transport Scotland jointly appointed Arup, with Accent and the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds to conduct a study that examines the relationship between car parking availability and the resulting levels of public transport demand. The study is intended to fill a research gap in this area, with the outputs used to inform the development of future policy. The conclusions can then help to appraise opportunities for park and ride in other locations. Previous studies for Passenger Focus2 and the Association of Train Operating Companies3 have helped to answer this question, but further work is required.

2.2 There are opportunities to develop park and ride to encourage modal shift from car to public transport. Car parks serving major bus and rail services have a role in helping passengers access these journey opportunities and help to increase demand. These overarching objectives are reflected in other policy frameworks, including 'Park and Ride for Buses: A National Framework'4 and the 'Strategic Transport Projects Review' (STPR)5. The STPR includes a commitment to make public transport more competitive by providing highly visible and accessible park and ride. The National Transport Strategy (NTS)6 was also published in 2006 and the three strategic outcomes have been endorsed by the current Scottish Government.

2.3 The primary objective of this study is to assess the impacts of changes in parking supply, quality and pricing on the demand for public transport and how this varies depending on location and passenger behaviour. The findings will help to identify the optimum locations for new or expanded sites and can be used to inform future rail and bus park and ride strategies. The main research aims are:

  • to investigate the extent to which (if at all) changes to park and ride supply and pricing affect public transport patronage and what alternatives would be used in the absence of formal parking facilities (Objective 1)
  • if a relationship is found for the above, to assess the extent to which park and ride can influence modal shift to public transport, and what the wider impacts are, for example on emissions and congestion (Objective 2)
  • to assess the relative importance of the factors which influence and drive the use of park and ride facilities (these may differ between rail and bus based sites so each should be considered separately) (Objective 3)
  • to establish whether, and to what extent, park and ride leads to undesirable outcomes including an increase in car usage (as more passengers who previously walked, or made a journey entirely by public transport, begin to drive to a park and ride site, or drive further to make use of parking facilities) (Objective 4)
  • based upon the analysis to support the above aims, to provide metrics to assist the development of guidance for appraising the impact on rail and bus demand and revenue of changes to park and ride parking policy and provision (Objective 5)
  • to identify the optimum pricing policy to maximise rail station car parking revenue (Objective 6)

Structure of the report

2.4 The report describes the methodology, results and recommendations for the three aspects of the study, rail, bus and Cross Forth. The main findings from the secondary research collated from other examples in Scotland and the rest of the UK have been integrated with the primary research to prepare a series of conclusions.