Development of Shrewsbury’s Park and Ride takes big step forward
Plans to develop the existing Shrewsbury Park and Ride service into a ‘next generation’ transport system have taken a big step forward, after winning the support of Shropshire Council’s Cabinet yesterday (Monday 5 October 2020).
At their meeting Cabinet members agreed that the remodelling, preparation and assessment works associated with creating a new transport model – under the name ‘Shrewsbury Connect’ – should begin.
This work will include a review of the existing Park and Ride sites and the identification of possible alternative locations that would provide passengers with new, modern, interchange facilities.
Service frequency, the fare structure, use of electric buses and the cost of any changes will also be considered, along with opportunities to integrate the wider public transport network into the Park and Ride service.
Formal discussions will be held with partners and stakeholders, and work carried out to understand how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the transport industry – and how passenger and stakeholder requirements may have changed as a result.
Subject to the outcome of a formal consultation it is hoped that the phased introduction of the Shrewsbury Connect transport model would start in 2021, along with a phased modernisation of the existing sites and the introduction of electronic buses into the operation.
Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport, said:
“Shrewsbury town centre is on the cusp of some major changes that may need to see a greater reliance on a remodelled and integrated Park and Ride service that is intrinsic to movement within the town.
“Evidence from other successful Park and Ride services around the country has shown that a successful Park and Ride service should have a number of key elements, including an attractive price, convenience, quality and a travel time that is at least as equitable to a similar journey by car, to encourage car drivers to switch from town centre car travel. It’s fair to say that we don’t offer all of these at the moment and, indeed, we’ve seen Park and Ride use halve in the past few years. That’s why these changes are so important, and much needed.
“Officers have developed an exciting vision to address all the key drivers of demand – cost, time, quality and convenience, with the aim of attracting commuters, shoppers and visitors to the town. We now need to develop and build on this to make sure we have a Park and Ride service that is fit for the future, and that we can all be proud of. I’m also discussing our future plans for Shrewsbury Park and Ride with ministers, and hope that these talks will help us to identify possible national funding opportunities.
“We know that the coronavirus emergency may continue for some time. But, as and when the pandemic begins to subside, the world may look a very different place and it’s important to plan ahead to maximise the post coronavirus resurgence of economic and social activity.”
The timescales for delivery of these proposals will be dependent upon a number of other strategies such as the Big Town Plan, movement and parking strategies, redevelopment of the Riverside, and the construction and completion of the North West Relief Road, to ensure that the maximum complementary value is achieved.
Further reports to Cabinet will be required as the detailed assessments are completed.
Shrewsbury Connect is a reimagining of the tried and tested Park and Ride formula. The current service provides passengers with a semi-express link from three strategically placed sites across the outskirts of Shrewsbury to the town centre, ultimately giving passengers one choice in destination, and whilst there is plenty for Shrewsbury town centre to offer, a change in customer demand requires more choice and potentially access to more destinations across the entire town, outside of the river loop.
A new network is vital for its revival and encouraging the public to access this service rather than park in the town centre. In the concept, Shrewsbury Connect will now expand upon the existing Park and Ride model by providing cross route travel, Passengers boarding at one site can now access every stop along the whole network and continue to access the service as a ‘hop-on-hop-off’, Monday to Saturday, 6.30am to 7.30pm.
Best practice study
In Autumn 2019 Shropshire Council made a number of visits to other English Park and Ride sites and held meetings with the council officers responsible to seek their help, advice and support in helping Shropshire Council in its development of shaping a reimagined Shrewsbury Park and Ride service.
The Park and Ride visits included: