If We Build It Will They Come? Does Providing Car Parking at Railway Stations and Bus Park & Ride Unlock Public Transport Demand?
Karl Johnston, Transport Scotland
This paper investigates the effect of providing parking spaces at railway stations, and of bus park and ride (P&R), on public transport patronage.
It is often claimed that a lack of parking availability at stations is a barrier to use of public transport. This paper investigates the effect of providing parking spaces at railway stations, and of bus park and ride (P&R), on public transport patronage. The impact of different charging rates is assessed, along with the factors which influence the use of facilities, alternatives used in the absence of these, and the impact on modal shift, emissions and congestion. The study was undertaken through secondary and primary research with surveys at locations in Scotland and (for rail) econometric analysis combining these results with ticket data.
This is the most comprehensive study into this topic we are aware of, and the first to find any relationship with rail demand. The key finding for rail was of a modest impact of parking on demand, most spaces being filled by people previously parking elsewhere, though results varied locally. Modal shift was negligible, with mileage removed through drivers switching to rail offset by more current rail passengers driving to the station. For bus, most journeys would otherwise have taken place wholly by car, with associated modal shift and congestion benefits. However, in terms of the total trips to the city centre locations assessed, bus P&R comprised only a small percentage.
Stated intention work predicted a net rail revenue loss through mode switch if charges increased. For bus, short term price inelasticity was found but this would be lessened in the longer term scope.
Policy implications are that parking is not a magic bullet for unlocking rail demand and securing modal shift, but relevant issues will vary locally. Bus P&R achieves some modal shift, but integrating schemes into an overarching demand management strategy including the cost and availability of parking in the destination location improves effectiveness.
Association for European Transport