Council supports commuters and visitors with half price Park and Ride

Council supports commuters and visitors with half price Park and Ride

To welcome back Park and Ride to Chester Zoo, all fares across the service will be half price from 28 September 2020 to the 4 January 2021.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is thanking residents and businesses for their feedback to improve travel options into the city centre and help to protect the environment.

The clear message from residents during this summer’s Stronger Futures consultation and the Walk. Ride. Thrive. consultation was for more active travel opportunities, reductions in speeding and to tackle the climate emergency for a greener and sustainable future.

To help more commuters and visitors to travel into Chester city centre using environmentally friendly transport, the Upton Park and Ride from Chester Zoo will reopen on Monday 28 September.  The Upton Park and Ride will operate as a shuttle service to/from the Chester Bus Interchange via the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Between 28 September and 4 January 2021, free travel will be provided for NHS employees travelling to the Countess of Chester Hospital from the Upton Park and Ride site (by showing their ID badge).  During this same period the price for all of Chester’s Park and Ride services are also being halved.

The Park and Ride service provides the most cost-effective form of transport into the city centre. Dedicated bus lanes and fewer stops than local buses mean quicker access to the centre of the city. Using Park and Ride helps reduce the number of cars coming into Chester meaning improved air quality and faster journeys for everyone. All Park and Ride buses provide free Wi-Fi and USB charging, all the buses have the latest low emission engines.

The Council consulted with residents on plans for active travel initiatives, including trial active travel lanes across the borough. The A51 and A5116 were both identified as immediate suitable corridors for this purpose and the Council received funding of £161,000 from the Department of Transport for these and other active travel schemes.

Less than 10 per cent of journeys are currently taken by public transport. To achieve the Council’s target of being a carbon neutral area by 2045, almost a third (29 per cent) of journeys will need to be by public transport by this time.

The new active travel lanes on the A5116 between the Dale Camp roundabout and Upton Grange crossroads, and on the A51 in Boughton by The Bars roundabout start from 5 October to make cycling a safer option and increasing the speed of public transport.
Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said: “We are supporting commuters, businesses and visitors by halving the cost of parking for Park and Ride users for three months, including the festive period which is a particularly important time for the city.

“We have previously facilitated free parking for NHS staff during the COVID-19 outbreak and our appreciation continues.  I am therefore pleased to provide free use of the Park and Ride services operating from the Upton site for NHS staff until the New Year.”

“By increasing the use of Park and Ride we can help to reduce the congestion on the roads leading into Chester city centre. This has three effects; journey times will be quicker; savings can be made on parking and more importantly we will be reducing car usage to improve air quality and reduce emissions helping to meet our climate targets.”

New COVID-19 safety measures are in place to protect both customers and bus drivers, including screens to separate passengers from the drivers, compulsory wearing of a face covering and contactless payment. Park and Ride buses operate a frequent service (every 15 minutes from Chester Zoo and every 12 minutes for Boughton and Wrexham Road):

  • Monday to Friday: between 7am and 7pm
  • Saturdays: between 8am and 7pm
  • Sundays and Bank Holidays: between 9.30am and 6pm

The Government’s ‘Gear Change’ vision, highlights that there is a once in a generation opportunity to accelerate active travel. Councils have been told to re-allocate road space for significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, with some streets becoming bus and bike only.

Added Councillor Shore: “The new active travel lanes are in place to address massive challenges including improving air quality, combatting climate change and improving health and wellbeing.

“There is no easy answer, the issues we are facing require a step change in cycling, walking and public transport. This is very much an experimental process, and we will continue to listen and learn. We will be monitoring both roads carefully. The scheme can be changed and adapted at every stage.”

The Council is also establishing a Sustainable Transport Taskforce to consider what the opportunities and barriers may be to deliver ambitious inclusive walking, cycling and public transport projects and what can be done to secure positive outcomes.

These dates are subject to any future announcements from the Government in relation to Covid-19 and may therefore be changed at short notice.

To have your say on the new routes, please send comments to:  transportstrategy@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.

Published 22nd September 2020