The Effects of Park and Ride Supply and Pricing on Public Transport Demand
7.1 The modelling outputs indicated that additional car parking availability would only generate a small increase in demand, with an increase of 0.35-0.43% trips. The case study examples demonstrated the overall change in demand would be relatively modest assuming there are no significant timetable changes. The relatively modest results that emerge from the modelling framework, in conjunction with stakeholder comments, highlights the importance of linking car park extensions with timetable changes to maximise the potential impacts. The benefits from additional car parking could be significantly larger, if the proposal is aligned with timetable improvements.
7.2 Although the additional parking has encouraged some users to switch from car to rail, these benefits are offset by the extra car distance generated by other changes in travel behaviour. With survey results indicating the extra parking has encouraged some users to drive to the station rather than making more sustainable travel choices. This has offset the benefits from the new passengers that have switched modes. As a result, the net change in car distance travelled using the network related to the change in parking provision at stations is negligible.
7.3 The responses from the primary research highlight the importance of 'softer' measures. For example, CCTV, lighting and a tarmac road should be an integral part of the overall station design to encourage users. Station security is also an important aspect to consider.
7.4 The analysis presented earlier highlights the limitations to achieve a robust financial appraisal that offers a payback within the typical duration of rail franchises. Assuming a cost per space of up to £10,000 (the costs for additional spaces will be higher if decking is required) means a payback period of more than 10 years would be required based on the current fare yield and income from parking charges, though this may reduce in certain circumstances. Therefore, the business case for additional spaces needs to be assessed in terms of the specific circumstances of the location. It is important to note that there are additional reasons for providing parking, e.g. to ease the burden of parking in local streets from residents.
7.5 The implications resulting from changes to the existing parking structure require careful consideration. If the parking charge is increased by £1 (either as the introduction of a charge, or a change from £1 to £2), the number of users switching from rail is 4.9%. Furthermore, about 55% of users would choose to park in an alternative location. The percentage switching modes would reduce to 3.0% if there is ample free parking available. The loss of rail revenue from passengers switching mode could exceed the income from car park charges. The reduction in revenue would be even more apparent if parking charges are already enforced and users switch to an alternative site.
7.6 In contrast with the rail data, the conclusions emerging from the bus case studies highlighted that the availability of parking was absolutely fundamental in influencing the travel behaviour. Both Ingliston and Bridge of Don park and ride sites have sufficient spare capacity (only 50% of the spaces are occupied, so motorists are confident of getting a space). However, if the parking availability was insufficient, over 60% would choose to complete their entire journey by car. Therefore, if bus park and ride was not available or constrained there would be a significant switch among users to making their entire journey by car.
7.7 The small number of users of park and ride in comparison with all trips means that the impact of park and ride on wider modal shift and emissions is small.
7.8 The review of existing park and ride sites highlighted several influential criteria to help attract motorists and these are set out below.
- proximity to the strategic road network (with adequate signing to inform drivers)
- service frequency with departures every 10 minutes to offer a turn-up-and-go bus service
- availability of parking throughout the day to ensure spaces are free for daytime users
- competitive journey times by bus, possibly supported by priority measures
- operating period consistent with the timing of commuting and leisure patterns
- competitive fares covering both bus fares and parking compared with the cost of parking in the town or city centre
7.9 Although several park and ride schemes in Scotland have been delivered, benchmarking the performance of these sites with examples elsewhere in the UK suggests there is scope to boost patronage.
7.10 Analysis of the impact of changes in fares was inconclusive in terms of being able to specify a revenue maximising fare. The findings suggested that bus park and ride demand is price inelastic, i.e. that there is scope to raise revenue through higher fares. However, this would serve to reduce the associated congestion and carbon benefits.
7.11 The movement corridor between Fife and Edinburgh is served by bus and rail-based park and ride. Surveys were conducted at Ferrytoll and Inverkeithing to understand the characteristics of the current users. This analysis highlighted that existing users are choosing to use these park and ride sites to avoid paying the relatively expensive parking charges in Edinburgh city centre. The results from the primary research indicate the choice between bus and rail is relatively inelastic, since the location of the final destination is an influential factor.
7.12 The need to enhance cross-Forth park and ride capacity will be dependent on wider considerations. These include the future parking charging strategy in Edinburgh, the likely distribution of new employment in Edinburgh and the additional capacity created by the proposed new Forth Crossing. The current rail and bus services operate as part of longer distance routes between Edinburgh and other parts of Fife or beyond, so the value for money case for delivering other public transport improvements needs to be considered. In developing proposals, the cost advantages for park and ride compared with city centre parking and the high frequency service characteristics need to be maintained.
7.13 The Ferrytoll and Inverkeithing park and ride sites offer some capacity relief benefits for congested routes in Edinburgh, particularly the A90 corridor.