People using Bath’s Park & Ride service are set to experience significant improvements to their journey from September 2012 in an investment package worth an estimated £2.5 million.
The Council has also responded to requests by local business and secured a commitment of Sunday and Bank Holiday operating times as standard for the first time ever. The Cabinet will consider approving an 8 year contract with First Group that would result in:
- All year round Sunday and Bank Holiday operation (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday) and special event and Christmas services;
- New environmentally-friendly 75 seater hybrid diesel/ electric buses;
- Better passenger comfort and convenience, including Wi-Fi, leather seats, climate controls for the upper decks, and next stop display information;
- No fare increases before April 2013 and when they do go up they will be index linked to the last increase in September 2010 to ensure value for money for customers;
- Minimum 15 minute services at all sites at all times.
The proposed improvements are hot-on-the-heels of the Council securing £32 million to deliver the Bath Transportation Package that will see hundreds of extra Park & Ride spaces relieving pressure on capacity all year round.
Councillor Roger Symonds (Lib-Dem, Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Transport, said, “The standard of Park & Ride services run by Bath & North East Somerset Council will be revolutionised over the coming years. Increasing the use of Park & Ride is a crucial part of the Council’s plans to cut congestion in the city centre as we attract out-of-town commuters, shoppers, and workers into our Lansdown, Newbridge, and Odd Down sites.
“In addition to the number of spaces being increased by nearly 50% so that drivers can find a space at our sites at all times, the quality of service people receive to connect them to the city centre back will also play a big part in persuading them to use public transport. Passengers are set to enjoy 21st century standards of convenience and comfort on a service running seven days per week for the first time ever. The hybrid vehicles would be low carbon and fuel efficient making the journey environmentally friendly.
“The proposal would also deliver action on a long-standing request from local businesses for a Sunday and Bank Holiday Park & Ride service that will help their customers and staff access the city centre quickly and conveniently on these days.”
The business community have welcomed the Council’s intention to improve its Park & Ride service. Andrew Cooper, Bath Business Improvement District (Bath BID) Manager, said, “Businesses through the BID have been campaigning for Sunday Park and Ride for some time and we welcome this proposal. It would make it more convenient for staff to travel to the city centre on a Sunday, which has become an increasingly busy trading day. A new Sunday and Bank holiday service would also differentiate us regionally as a shopping and visitor destination that has a 7 day a week Park and Ride service.”
Nick Brooks-Sykes, Chief Executive of Bath Tourism Plus, added “As we seek to grow the visitor economy of the City, we will increasingly focus our activity to highlight ‘off peak’ periods. As a significant tourism destination, any aspect that highlights that facilities are open all week long and all year round will find resonance with our target audiences. A seven day Park & Ride operation would also assist with visitor management and help alleviate the congestion which can potentially spoil the visitor experience.“