WinACC's reply to the consultation:

Many thanks for the opportunity to respond to your proposals. 

We hope  that you will consult with potential users as well as users. It would be important to explore thoroughly how the facility can be made more relevant for those who do not use it, so that its future can be put on a firmer footing by attracting a wider range of users. Too many of the buses that run in the off-peak have fewer than eight passengers.

We would like to see full integration of the service into town services. The Oxford system of a very low parking fee, charging for the buses, and making the buses an integral part of the town bus service would provide benefits for everybody wishing to travel into Winchester Town centre, and would help increase the frequency for both P&R users and everybody else. It  would not make journeys take more time because the main impact on timing is traffic congestion.

We welcome the proposals to:

·         increase peak frequency

·         increase off-peak frequency, provided that more is done to encourage greater use of the P&R through better signage and greater price differentials with central parking. Otherwise this would not be a good use of resources. 

We do not support the proposal to close the service at 19:30 in the evening. We often work into the evening, partly because many of the people who work for us are volunteers, and even the current end at 20:30 means we sometimes cannot use the service on days when we have evening meetings or have to work late. Generally people do not use the ‘last bus’ on  any service because they do not want to be stranded if the bus fails to turn up. Even if the last bus were at 19:30 it might still run empty because of this. We believe you should accept that the final bus is bound to run almost empty.

We worry that the 19:30 last bus will make the service unattractive to London commuters and the whole service less viable in the long term. We would like more effort to be put into actively attracting London and Southampton commuters and the later buses retained.

We think this is an important opportunity to upgrade the buses used well beyond the Euro 6 standard you are proposing. Winchester has a serious pollution problem and any additional expenditure to reduce emissions would be well worth it. We hope you will be able to apply for and receive funding through the government’s brand new Low Emission Bus Scheme. It will fund 90% of the extra cost of low emission buses, and 75% of the infrastructure (e.g. inductive recharging equipment). so it makes electric buses feasible and affordable. 

The City Council's consultation:

As you may know the Council has been reviewing the operation of the existing Winchester Park and Ride service in preparation for a tendering exercise that will lead to a new contract starting in 2016. The  process so far has included a comprehensive survey of all Park and Ride users to establish their views on a range of ideas and options.  The decision on what parameters to include in the tender will be for elected Members to decide upon. The Park and Ride service exists to serve the needs of the town and we wish to make it as effective as we can within the inevitable financial constraints.

Based on the survey data and our own evaluation of the existing operation, and taking into account the financial constraints that exist, the principles on which we may make our recommendations to Members are as follows:

  1. Passenger capacity: Bus size & Frequency (timetabling)

that the inclusion of contract tender options which would allow for increased capacity and more regular buses by –

  1. the use of large single decked buses rather than double decked (as more double decked buses are required to provide the same bus frequency)
  2. increase peak time bus frequency from 10 minutes to 8.5 minutes
  3. increase off-peak bus frequency from 15 minutes to 12 minutes

2. Bus Route Variations & options

We are not likely to propose any changes to the existing routes. The existing routes work well and we know that part of the attractiveness of the Park and Ride facility to customers is that the service is direct and reliable.

3. Air quality & Environmental Considerations

We intend to include options in the tendering process that include both re-using the existing Euro V buses and the provision of new Euro VI buses which produce even lower emissions.   The use of hybrid vehicles, of which the bus operators have relatively little experience, would appear to require funding beyond our likely budget capabilities whilst producing small additional environmental benefits but may be included as an option to ensure that this is tested

4. Additional or ‘Extra’ Park and Ride services

That permanent provision of extra buses for enhanced Christmas operations and special events will be incorporated into the tender specifications.

5. Evening Park and Ride Bus Services

Our current thinking is that the Park and Ride service will operate until 19:30.  After this time the level of use is so low (only 2 or 3 passengers are usually carried per bus) that given the need to limit contract costs it is hard to justify the cost per passenger.

6. Use of Park and Ride buses for regular passenger transport use

It is suggested that the Park and Ride buses will allow carriage of non-Park and Ride users so long as the additional passenger loadings do not affect the reliability of the bus service or the capacity of the bus to carry Park and Ride users.  In practice this means that we will continue operations with this flexibility but may withdraw it if it becomes problematic.

7. Sunday Operation

Except for Christmas peaks and special events the Park and ride service will not operate on a Sunday.

8. Ticket Costs, Fees and Discount levels

Our current thinking is that pricing would be based upon the following principles:

  • the current two-part basic ticket method is continued.
  • the maximum daily fee is kept at approximately half the price of the cheapest full day town centre charge
  • the off-peak ticket price be set at the same level or below that for two hours parking in town
  • discounts be continued on the basis of 10% for smartcards and 20% for season tickets
  • That the maximum discount given to large organisations is set at 30% of the daily charge

As an organisation which will have park and ride users amongst your employees or service users I would be very grateful for any observations or comments you would like to offer on these points, or any other aspects of the park and ride operation so that we can consider these before reporting to Members. 

Please provide your responses to DMassey@WINCHESTER.GOV.UK by the 17 March 2015.