09 December 2013

Park and (no) Pride

Another entry on VOSA that's worth a comment or two…

  4 December 2013


Variation Accepted: Operating between George Interchange Park & Ride and Derriford Hospital given service number PR3 effective from 03-Feb-2014. To amend Timetable.

Plymouth park and ride campaigners slam  catastrophic  charging plan   Plymouth Herald

This service is the Derriford Hospital Park & Ride service linking Derriford with Tamar Science Park and The George Park & Ride site. I had heard that there would be some service reductions next year as funding is reduced but I have no idea if this is the case with this change. As usual we will hear in due course…

Of course it does not help that they are also in competition with First who offer a special fare between Derriford & The George although most regular passengers seem very happy with the Target Travel service which at peak times often has standing loads.

Of course the PR3 is not the main service which uses The George site, thats the PR1 operated by First Devon & Cornwall. We have seen how the council were not happy with the way First were running the service (a commercial service) complaining about using older buses and also not having them in a special livery. This last week though has seen more people complaining about the council who do seem to have got themselves in a bit of a mess with things…

Its all down to how to charge for the service especially at a time when savings have to be made but it does not help the council when they had so recently denied any such plans:

“In October, 2013, having read a confusing consultation notice posted in the George park and ride car park, I asked the council to confirm whether it was their intention to introduce a £1 an hour charge at Milehouse, George and Coypool,” he said.

“Their response was to say there were no proposals to charge for parking at the George park and ride site.”

The reply:

A spokesperson for Plymouth City Council said: “The council has not made any decisions to introduce charges at Plymouth’s park and ride sites or change the way these services are currently run. “One of the council’s scrutiny panels has been reviewing the operation of the three park and ride sites to see if there are ways the service can be improved and costs reduced (operating these sites currently costs the taxpayer around £130,000 a year).

This is clearly a PR mess for the council who do not appear to have handled this at all well. It is of course right that all options are looked into when it comes to finances but to admit this is happening so soon after such a committed denial is not making anyone look good at all.

So we now have much older buses running a reduced service in a plain bus livery with a council looking at reducing costs even further. Is there a real future for Park & Ride in Plymouth?

It all seems so long ago now…

First 33411 WA56FUB


Plymothian Transit: it seems to be aimed fairly and squarely at Target Travel who already operate the Derriford Hospital Park & Ride PR3 service.

Plymothian Transit: Council bosses say they pleaded in vain with First to bring back state of the art buses bought partly with taxpayers’ cash in 2006

Plymothian Transit Docs: Archived copy of the Herald News Article

Andys Bus Blog: konectbus & anglianbus will be making a number of changes to their networks

Andys Bus Blog: Emblings TCO 531 is a 1960 Leyland Atlantean originally with Plymouth Corporation

Bus World Photography:It's fortunate in our novice days many of us didn't quite stick to the rule book and took correct photos

Dark Roasted Blend:As for some of the better-looking and creative bus stop designs.

Public Transport Experience: Change the appointment? It's taken over 6 months to get the NHS to sort out the change of address; so better not.

Transport Illustrated After taking an Olympic-sized (no, not Leyland) break in 2012 the Bristol Rally returned to the Harbourside this year,

Public Transport Experience fbb rejected bus all the way from Seaton to Exeter for his 1020 hospital appointment yesterday; and has been looking at Park and Ride

Public Transport Experience: The good news is that the driver of fbb's departing bus (showing D but becoming H) anxiously asked the corpulent one whether he wanted a D or an H. Well done that man!

Random Streets A narrow-gauge steam railway operating a regular service, 365 days a year.  Sometimes I'm surprised by what I find!

Circle of London While we enthusiasts scream out for more variation within the bus scene, along came MBK1, Mercedes answer to a conventional midibus

Public Transport Experience: Was the stop outside the station also suspended? Dunno, but possibly;that infomation was a closely guarded secret.

Public Transport Experience: Last weekend Plymouth City Bus linked their 43A (Saltash) route to the existing 5/5A to Plymstock. As part of the on-going battle for custom, First have introduced bargain fares on the city end of their routes along the same corridor

I have just switched to a new RSS ‘Reader’ which meant having to trawl through over 5000 articles over the last few days to get back on track and make sure I didnt miss anything. Hopefully now my new system will mean I can bring these links more regularly again.


  1. target travel are best bus service on the pr3 bus the should keep it get ride of the pr1

  2. Well the only way it will have a future is one for it to become more profitable(I.e. getting in passengers for Christmas) and secondly maybe even charging for a days parking, To be honest the council was silly to make the P&R commercial as part of the bus fare went as a subsidy to the council, now their running it for free. I think give it time first will get fed up and PCB will take it over!

  3. As usual I think there is fault on both sides yes the PR by the city council is not good but they seem to be quite adept at get it wrong these days, however Western National as it should be called not First a name that means absolutely nothing except in PR speak, also have to be blamed as well firstly the park and ride livery should be carried by buses used on park and ride services this is standard practice in any city I have visited and expected by the customer to clearly identify their service. The 56 plate enviro 400 that there was absolutely nothing wrong with should not have been allowed to be stolen by Bristol which is where First seems to concentrate a greater perportion of its spending versus the relatively aged and shabby fleet currently operated in Plymouth there should be a dedicated fleet of buses in good condition on the park and ride service or the contract should be retendered?

  4. hopefully citybus will take it over, then u will see top spec new buses in a dedicated livery. and run properly.

    1. I happen to agree it might be better to charge parking and have the bus for free but it will require subsidy from the council. Thats the only way that we will see top quality buses on a decent timetable again. The council though do have to be careful with the little money they have so I cant see them stepping in to subsidise a service currently being run commercially by First. It really does need a dedicated park & ride livery though if its going to attract passengers. The lower quality buses itself shouldnt be a problem

  5. The P&R in Plymouth is at best laughable. Coypool is too small, the car park is full quite early in the day and there is very little "churn". FDC probably make a small margin from this part of the operation. George Junction does not have enough bus priority to ensure reliable timetables, it is well underused and cannot possibly be making FDC any money. PCC had the chance to do something when the initial contract expired but saw an FDC commercial operation as a cost saving for them. Graham is right the buses should be in a dedicated livery but there is much more to it than just the livery. Wrong location, too small a size site, not enough bus priority along the route, (Tavistock Road, Outland Road), too many stops in the City Centre, Milehouse car park now mainly used by life centre patrons. There is so much wrong with Plymouth's P&R it will take more than a livery to turn it around. As to PCB taking it on, I would imagine they wouldn't want the hassle or a loss making service. PCC need to rethink P&R from the ground up but have no money, therefore the current tired product will continue.

  6. This all seems a little odd to me. I've never come across a park and ride set-up which charges for parking *and* the bus (assuming that's what the Council is proposing). One or the other, yes, but not both. If they charge for parking, the bus service may cease to be commercially viable. It will then require a subsidy if the Council want to maintain an attractive headway and period of operation.

    One has to wonder if the idea to charge parking fees is a roundabout way of trying to take back control of the bus service. If they do get control then it's going to cost them money, which may wipe out the benefit of charging parking fees. Surely the over-riding objective should be to ensure that the P&R is seen as attractive and value for money for its users and to keep the cars out of the city centre.

    I don't agree with your comment, Graham, that charging for parking is the only way to see quality buses and a decent timetable. Look up the A38 to Exeter where the P&Rs are free to park, heavilly promoted, strongly branded, run with high-spec leather seated buses bought new specially for the purpose and operated commercially by Stagecoach (or at least two of them are, not sure about Sowton these days). It needs a strong partnership between Council and bus company, not the constant bickering that seems to go on in Plymouth!

    1. The main virtue of Park and Ride is to reduce the number of car journeys going into the city centre; a subsidiary virtue is getting people who never use buses on to one. A successful P&R will get car drivers and passengers into town at least as quickly as they would get there in a car and without the hassle and cost of finding somewhere to park; the cost, even for a family of four, should be a little less than the cost of fuel and parking for the car. For the second objective, the buses should be sufficiently comfortable and pleasant inside for the car driver to feel that it is not such an inferior means of travel after all. To me, First score really well on friendliness and helpfulness of staff; they did score well on attractiveness of vehicles, but no longer do so.

      I agree that the George P&R suffers from being a long journey with insufficient bus priority - the Matford P&R has a buses-only route through the docks which makes it quicker than a car at any time of day.

      Because the P&R services in Exeter, Plymouth and Truro are registered bus services, they will accept disabled/pensioner passes for free travel; if they went over to a system of paying for parking and free bus travel, that would no longer be the case.

      I live in Cornwall and am in a wheelchair. Although I get free parking in City Council car parks, I still find the most convenient way to go into Plymouth is to go right down the Parkway from the bridge to Marsh Mills and then get the PR2 bus. This has taken as little as seven minutes to get me to Charles Street, if I want to go into Drake Circus, and I can then wheel downhill through the town and get on the bus back at Armada Way. That is why the number of stops in the city centre is welcome.


    2. To me Plymouth City Council seem to want to attract motorists into the city centre, I cannot understand why planning permision was granted to Drake Circus to allow over 1200 parking spaces!! It seems that no thought was given to the entrance to the parking facility with queues of cars trying to enter the car park holding up the buses. Also as someone mentioned earlier, the Park & Ride car parks are not fit for purpose. You cannot expect motorists to pay to park and pay to travel into the centre by bus, they will just drive to the centre and pay once.

  7. There are 5 P&R sites serving the City of Oxford. Three are run by Oxford City Council and the other two by Oxfordshire County Council. There are charges to park at all five sites of about £2 per day (although there are slight variations in the prices, the availability of season tickets and the times when they apply) and there is also a charge for the bus of £2.70 per adult return to the City Centre from each of the P&R sites


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