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Park&Ride, alternatively written as ‘Park & Ride’ or ‘Park and Ride’, is an integrated transport system enabling users of private vehicles to park in a safe location outside the town/city and travel directly into the centre via public transport. This service is also commonly used to take customers to other congested sites such as hospitals or attractions (e.g., Bicester Village) where available parking is scarce and expensive. Although other forms of public transport can be used, Park&Ride is typically centred around a high-frequency bus service that provides customers with fast, convenient, and excellent value travel.  

The key objectives of Park&Ride are usually to: 

  • Decrease urban congestion. 
  • Decrease vehicle-related pollution. 

Reducing congestion 

Using Park&Ride services reduces congestion by decreasing the number of private vehicles on the roads in urban areas. By locating Park&Ride car parks outside of the town/city in well-connected areas, service users need not venture into the city centre in their private vehicles where they will contribute to urban congestion. For example, all of Oxford’s Park&Ride sites are situated on the edge of the city near major roads: 

  • Oxford Parkway Park&Ride can be accessed from the A40, A4260, A34, and M40. 
  • Pear Tree Park&Ride can be accessed from the A40, A4260, A34, and M40. 
  • Redbridge Park&Ride can be accessed from the A34. 
  • Seacourt Park&Ride can be accessed from the A420.
  • Thornhill Park&Ride can be accessed from the A40 and M40. 

Congestion is also reduced by using high-capacity buses. For example, a typical Park&Ride double-decker bus has seating and standing space for 75 customers. When at total capacity, this reduces the number of private vehicles on roads leading into city centres, therefore helping to improve mobility in urban areas for both buses and other vehicles.  

Reducing vehicle-related pollution 

The second key objective is to reduce vehicle-related pollution. As an inevitable by-product of the combustion process, petrol and diesel vehicles produce waste emissions such as carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These emissions contribute to air pollution and can be harmful to the environment and our health.  

Park&Ride in Oxford achieves this objective in two ways:  

  • Indirectly reducing the number of private vehicles used in urban areas (e.g., via methods outlined previously). 
  • Utilising hybrid engine technology (e.g., Euro 6) in the vast majority of buses. 

To put this into context, taking the 300 bus from Pear Tree Park&Ride to the Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford City Centre would save 911g of CO2 compared to driving, the same as keeping a light bulb on for 256 hours! As bus companies are increasingly looking to implement fleets of electric buses, these positive effects will only be enhanced in the future.

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