Park and Ride is an established low carbon approach to sustainable tourist mobility reducing congestion and improving air quality and the visitor experience.
Oxford pioneered park and ride in the UK, with the introduction of a permanent network from 1973 having trialled temporary schemes. It operates the largest Park and Ride network in the UK. Its five sites have a combined capacity of 4,930 car parking spaces, served by 20 double deck buses (capacity 1,695 seats).
Initially developed as a novel solution to a heavily congested city centre it has become mainstream policy with large scale adoption in the UK and in excess of 92 park and ride sites across England

P&R networks are well suited to tourist destinations and often found in historical towns and cities with traditional narrow streets. Protection of the historic character of the destination and its attractiveness requires reduced traffic volumes to offer low carbon solutions, improved air quality and reduced pollution, noise, and visual intrusion.

P&R forms an important component of the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS) with significant phased expansion to around 9,400 spaces by 2031. However the OTS concluded that the expansion of the current city-edge P&R sites would not be appropriate, instead identifying the need for P&R policy to evolve to capture users, including increased numbers of tourists further from the city centre at new sites.
P&R contributes to low carbon integrated sustainable transport soutions by
- Introducing hybrid buses
- Developing one P&R site as a electric mobility hub.

Resources needed

The operating costs of existing sites: £200-£270 per space per annum.
Bus services are currently operated commercially with no cost to OCC and operators keeping their farebox revenue.
Capital Costs: £11.3m- £14.1m for new P&R sites.
Development costs approximately 10-15% of the capital cost.

Evidence of success

The evidence of success is the importance placed on expanding P&R in the OTS.
Benefits of P&R include:
- Reduced the number of car trips to the city centre.
- Decreased congestion
- Improved ambience of the historic city centre
- Improved visitor experience
- Improved air quality
- Reduced CO2 emissions
- Reduced noise and visual intrusion.
- Use of low emission buses
Some benefits are subjective and difficult to measure whilst others are not given specific published values.

Difficulties encountered

- The success of P&R has increased congestion on parts of the Ring Road in North Oxford.
- Growth (economic, employment, future housing and increased visitor numbers) will exacerbate congestion.
- New P&R sites can transfer demand from existing bus services onto new P&R services

Potential for learning or transfer

The Oxford P&R provides valuable learning for Desti-Smart partners. It directly addresses two key Desti-Smart themes: Electric Mobility and Intermodality.
The OTS policy aims to
• Promote modes of travel and behaviours which minimise traffic and congestion;
• Provide an accessible city centre which offers a world class visitor experience;
• Tackle the causes of transport-related noise and poor air quality within the city.

These objectives closely mirror those of Desti-Smart to provide SMART tourist mobility and accessibility in destinations.

P&R contributes to a wider sustainable transport policy through the greening of the P&R bus addressing environmental policy goals with low carbon solutions and improving local air quality. Currently the network uses hybrid buses with scope to use full electric mobility .

The case study also demonstrates the development of P&R sites as Electric hubs with EV charging facilities.
Main institution
Oxforshire County Council
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Start Date
December 1973
End Date


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