A guest blog post from Green councillor Josh Williams on park-and-ride car parks:
What’s the evidence on park and ride car parks?
A quick look around the web shows that there is now a growing body of evidence for the impact of a ‘park and ride’ carpark in or near a town.
You can look at the Wikipedia entry if you like, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_and_ride where one study notes that ‘the survival of local politicians is dependent upon [a car park's] continuation, irrespective of its actual success.’
Or if you don’t trust Wikipedia you could look at blogs written by actual people like this one about how park and rides encourage car use: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2013/03/how-park-and-ride-encourages-car-use/5034/.
Or if you prefer a more academic study, you could have a longer read showing that two thirds of park and rides have no effect or increase car journeys: http://www.historictownsforum.org/files/documents/consultation_documents/The_effectiveness_and_Sustainability_of_Park_and_Ride.pdf
Perhaps it’s worth considering how one of our fairly close neighbours, Bath, have been looking at a proposed park and ride recently, where they note that ‘Academic evidence seriously questions the assumption that Park and Rides reduce vehicle use’: http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/BPT-East-Park-Ride-consultation-response-15-10-15.pdf
How does it increase use? More journeys are made as people make a car trip to the new car park that they otherwise wouldn't have. More bus journeys are taken from the car park, and as more people consider that congestion into town might have eased, they too make a new car journey into town that they otherwise wouldn't have. Traffic into town remains in the same awful congested state, plus the park and ride traffic.
What do we think about the East Reading park-and-ride (and link road into Reading town centre)?
We think that the evidence shows that it is possible to use a limited park and ride scheme in a really integrated transport solution. That solution needs great cycling infrastructure. It needs cheap, reliable, frequent public transport (both buses and trains). It needs 20mph limits across town to encourage walking and cycling in relative safety, and it needs a whole host of other measures like closing town centre parking (in an ideal world this would make way for good quality social housing) that the Labour administration for some reason refuse to implement.
Without that; it’s just another car park, just more congestion, and just more pollution in our already polluted air. Any car park mustn't just tarmac over our precious green space. We need to preserve the space by the Thames as a natural resource for our children and our children’s children. Even in a well-integrated scheme, location is everything.
Instead of putting a park-and-ride on the Thames-side and a link road over Kennet Mouth into the town centre, surely a more sensible option would be to introduce an integrated transport system as described above. Then we could put another level on the new Winnersh park and ride (meaning no loss of green space), and removing that number of parking spaces from Reading town centre would truly cut car journeys into town.
The Labour party in Reading call all of this evidence the ‘big lie’. We call it the ‘big question’: why do they think it’s a good idea to cover over our precious green space with tarmac and increase car journeys to and through Reading? This is a question they have yet to answer.
What do you think?
Unlike Labour, we’re listening. Let us know what you think.
PS: if you’re interested, a news item on this appeared on the getreading website in November 2015 http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/thames-valley-park-park-ride-10369329 and a petition has been raised by concerned local residents here: https://www.change.org/p/no-park-and-ride-on-the-thamesside