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A road sign for park and ride.

Park and ride (or incentive parking) facilities are car parks with connections to public transport that allow commuters and others wishing to travel into city centres to leave their personal vehicles in a car park and transfer to a bus, rail system (rapid transit, light rail or commuter rail), or carpool for the rest of their trip. The vehicle is stored in the car park during the day and retrieved when the commuter returns. Park and rides are generally located in the suburbs of metropolitan areas or on the outer edges of large cities.

Contents

Benefits

Park and ride bus in Carmarthen, Wales

The aim is to reduce these problems by making it easier for people to use public transport in an urban area with traffic congestion, and to reduce the need for more central car parks where there are competing demands for land use.

Park and ride schemes are often marketed as a way to avoid the difficulties and cost of parking within the city centre. Park and ride facilities allow commuters to avoid the stress of driving a congested part of their journey and facing scarce, expensive city centre parking. They are meant for people who do not have ideal public transport from their home either because of where they live, the time it would take, or the hours they work. Some commuters have a free parking place provided by their employer, and those usually prefer to drive all the way to work.

Park and ride facilities may suit commuters with alternative fuel vehicles, which often have reduced range, since they may be closer to home than the ultimate destination. They also are useful as a fixed meeting place for those carsharing or carpooling or using kiss and ride (see below). Also, some transit operators use park and ride facilities to encourage more efficient driving practices by reserving parking spaces for low emission designs, high occupancy vehicles, or carsharing.

Most facilities provide services such as passenger waiting areas and toilets. Travel information, such as leaflets and posters, may be provided. At larger facilities, extra services such as a travel office, car wash, bike rental, cafeteria and a staffed laundry may be provided. These are often encouraged by municipal operators to improve the attraction of using park and ride.

Bus park and rides

A park-and-ride bus in Exeter, England

Park and ride facilities, with dedicated car parks and bus services, began in the 1960s in the UK. Oxford operated the first such scheme, initially with an experimental service operating part-time from a motel on the A34 in the 1960s and then on a full-time basis from 1973. Better Choice Parking first offered an airport park and ride service at London Gatwick Airport in 1978.[1] Oxford now operates Park and Ride from 5 dedicated car parks around the city.[2] As of 2005, Norwich has the biggest Park & Ride in the UK, operating from six separate sites around the city.[3]

In Sweden, a tax has been introduced on the benefit of free or cheap parking paid by an employer, in situations in which workers would otherwise have to pay.[4] This tax has reduced the number of workers driving into the inner city, and increased the usage of park and ride areas, especially in Stockholm.

Railway park and rides

Some railway stations are promoted as a park and ride facility for a distant town, for instance Liskeard for Looe and Lelant Saltings for St Ives, both in Cornwall, England. These train services are generally less frequent than those of a park and ride bus service. Stations in the UK that are situated outside the main urban area are often suffixed with "parkway", such as Bristol Parkway, Tiverton Parkway, and Didcot Parkway. At Luton Airport Parkway and Southampton Airport Parkway, the stations are located to serve air as well as road passengers.

In the United States, it is common for outlying rail stations to include automobile parking, often hundreds of spaces. Boston, for example, has built several large parking facilities at its commuter rail and metro stations near major highways and large arterial surface roads around the periphery of the city: Alewife, Braintree, Forest Hills, Hyde Park, Quincy Adams, Riverside, Route 128, Wellington, Woburn. The local transit operator, the MBTA, offers almost 46,000 park and ride spaces.

Kiss and ride

Kiss and ride sign at a MARTA station
Kiss and ride at Alewife near Boston.

Many railway stations and airports feature an area in which cars can discharge and pick up passengers. These "kiss and ride" facilities allow drivers to stop and park temporarily, instead of the longer-term parking associated with "park and ride" facilities.

Some high-speed railway stations in Taiwan have signs outside stations reading Kiss and Ride in English, with Chinese characters above the words that read "temporary pick up and drop off zone". Most people in Taiwan have no idea what the colloquialism means.[5]

The term first appeared in a January 20, 1956, Associated Press report published in the Los Angeles Times.[6]

Car-share park and rides

Park and ride schemes do not necessarily involve public transport. They can be provided to reduce the number of cars on the road by promoting carpooling and carsharing. Partly because of the concentration of risers, and thus a reduced number of vehicles, these park and ride terminals often have express transit services into the urban area, such as a high-occupancy vehicle lane. The service may only take passengers in one direction in the morning (typically toward a central business district) and in the opposite direction in the evening, with no or a limited number of trips available in the middle of the day. It is often not allowed to park at these locations overnight. Overall, these attributes vary from region to region.

See also

References

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