The UK’s top Park&Ride service opens new sites

The UK’s top Park&Ride (P&R) service has officially opened two new sites today, including a fully electric P&R fleet at the new Poppleton Bar site.

In partnership with First, the new sites will further increase York’s successful portfolio to six P&R sites – making this one of the largest Park&Ride services in the UK.

The £22.7 million pound project – 70 per cent part funded by the government – has been created in partnership with contractors Balfour Beatty and designers CH2M Hill to develop a new Park&Ride at Poppleton Bar and a larger facility near to the previous Askham Bar Park&Ride.

Congestion levels along the routes into the city centre will be cut by increasing the parking capacity to 1,100 vehicles at Askham Bar and introducing a new 600-vehicle facility at Poppleton Bar, and by offering free parking and low price 15-minute journeys into York. Major improvements are also being made to the A59/A1237 roundabout to help alleviate congestion.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “It is great to see joined up journeys in action in York. These cycle-friendly Park&Ride schemes, supported by green buses, will bring significant environmental benefits to the city. They will also help boost growth by reducing congestion and making the city centre more accessible. We are happy to support these schemes which help deliver the government’s long-term economic plan.”

Cllr David Levene, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The £22.7m project represents one of the largest single investments in York’s transport infrastructure since the northern ring road was built in the 80s. This has been our stated priority for the last three years and builds on our existing portfolio of Park&Rides sites. This is critical for York’s future economic prosperity and environmental wellbeing and we are delighted to be delivering this major improvement today.”

Eddie Tribe, North East Delivery Unit Managing Director, Balfour Beatty said; “It is a great pleasure to hand over these fantastic new Park&Ride sites to City of York Council. Working closely with our customer, these challenging projects were successfully completed in heavily trafficked areas, with Askham Bar having the additional challenge of being constructed on a reclaimed landfill. These new Park&Ride sites will ease congestion and provide people with improved journeys into York city centre.”

Local business Optare was procured to manufacture the new electric buses and the new sites will continue to be operated by First bus.

Ben Gilligan, managing director of First in York, said: “First is proud to operate the successful Park&Ride service in partnership with City of York Council. As a member of the York Quality Bus Partnership, First works closely with partners to provide public transport that supports communities and the local economy. The investment by First of nearly £1m in these new Optare Versa Electric Vehicles in York demonstrates our commitment to improving the quality of life by lowering air emissions & congestion and offering low-carbon travel options.

“We look forward to welcoming customers on board from the new Poppleton Bar and improved Askham Bar sites and join the increasing number of people who are travelling on First buses in York.”

Enrico Vassallo, CEO of Optare PLC, said: “York Park&Ride is yet another example that electric vehicles, the introduction of which Optare has pioneered in the UK, have a place in the public transport system. We are particularly proud to be able to contribute to the local economy by supplying buses that are running on routes local to where they are manufactured in Sherburn in Elmet near York.

“Optare’s electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity, with orders so far this year totalling 34 vehicles. The new vehicles for York will be in addition to another Optare electric vehicle already operating at the University of York on the campus shuttle service and other Optare electric vehicles already in service in Harrogate, Scotland, Nottingham, Coventry, London, Heathrow Terminal 5, Switzerland and Holland, bringing the total of Optare electric vehicles currently in service to 59.

“The vehicles are proving reliable, resulting in lower maintenance costs, and running costs are significantly lower than an equivalent diesel engine bus. Payback on the additional cost of an EV is well within the lifetime of the vehicle and technological developments that have increased the range that an EV can achieve make them commercially viable across a wider spread of operations”

To position York as one of the best digitally connected cities in Europe by 2015, all six Park&Ride terminals and on-board services across the city are set to get free Wi-Fi. This follows on from the success of the free Wi-Fi access pilot in the city centre.

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