An easy, convenient and sustainable access to the city center: Park&Ride
The access to the hystorical city center of Reggio Emilia since 2008 has been progressively reorganised by: limiting the access with cameras and mobile physical barriers; rationalising of parking spaces; improvement of the public transport offer and the cycling and walking friendliness if the environment.
In this sense, the Municipality since the last decade, has been promoting accessibility with sustainable modes of transport from parking facilities in the outskirts of the city and in the ring roads surrounding the city centre. Car drivers -people living in the suburbs, commuters and tourists- who leave the car in Park&Ride area, can access to the city center by a free of charge shuttle mini-bus service, carrying maximum 28 people.
The ultimate goal of this measure is to reduce the parking pressure in the city center diverting the long term parking demand outside the inner area, where parking areas should be dedicated to short-term parking. The key element of this action has been the introduction of parking management (paid parking areas in the city centre and the ring road) and the development of a network of park and rides in the sorroundings of the city connected by a free shuttle. At the moment, Reggio Emilia realized 7 park & rides facilities in the outskirts of the city, connected to the city centre with 3 minibus lines, connecting city center to the main parking areas and facilities (stations, hospital..)
The economic sustainability is guaranteed by parking management through a push and pull method (funding mechanism that makes use of the revenues of parking management -push-to encourage the use of energy-efficient modes of transport-pull) using the earnings of the parking fees in the city centre
Evidence of success
Currenlty 3 bus lines connect the city centre with the park & ride areas. From 2008, an increase of 16% of passengers have been recorded. Moreover a survey carried out during May 2017 shows that in the morning peak hour, 5 out of 7 parking areas are 100% or even above occupied. Monitoring the results since 2008, a clear trend has emerged also thanks to the enformercemnt of rules to access to the city center: the use of the car has indeed dropped from 68% to 58% in 10 years.
One of the difficulty of P&R experience is related to the high utilization rate of P&R areas, that especially in the peak hour, causes overcrowding in buses. This issue was partially solved increasing the frequency of busses from 12 to 8 minutes in the morning peak hour.
Potential for learning or transfer
This initiative succeeded in promoting an easy, convenient and sustainable access to the inner city. Park and rides are mostly targeted to commuters working in the city center and for people who need to access and stay in the city center for a long period, but it is also used by all the inhabitants. In terms of transferability, this initiative, in order to be effective, must be accompanied by an enforcement of policies about city center access control: cameras and physical barriers and parking management play a crucial role in diverting the parking outside the inner area. The extension of the paid parking areas was the key factor for the success of P&R initiative. Free of charge use of buses, achieved through a push and pull mechanism, is a pivotal aspect for citizens, that highly appreciate this service to such an extent that they are asking for the extension of this service both in terms of duration and location.
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