Revolution for Bath’s Park & Ride service
The biggest upgrade in 25 years of Bath & North East Somerset Council's Park & Ride service was hailed today by Government Transport Minister Norman Baker MP who inspected eight new state of the art low carbon double deck buses that will be run by First from Lansdown, Newbridge, and Odd Down under contract to the Council.
Nearly 50,000 cars enter Bath every single weekday. The Government predicts that this will increase by 15% over the next 10 years – equivalent to an extra 7,500 cars per day.
To help tackle the traffic congestion that these numbers will cause and provide the infrastructure to help revitalise the local economy, encourage greater investment and create new jobs, the Park & Ride service is being significantly improved. A combined total of around £30 million investment is being made by the Council, the Government, and First.
Councillor Roger Symonds (Lib-Dem, Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Transport, said, "The city is witnessing a revolution in the standard of Park & Ride and the most significant upgrade since the service started a generation ago, starting with these excellent new, environmentally-friendly buses.
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"Bath & North East Somerset Council is working with the Government and First to encourage more drivers coming to the city to park their cars on the outskirts. Local businesses are telling us that an improved public transport network is essential if our area is to create new jobs for local people. A combination of more spaces, better and more fuel efficient buses, and a Sunday service will help us provide the infrastructure for economic growth and new jobs, whilst also tackling both heavy traffic congestion and improving air quality for the benefit of our residents, businesses, and visitors."
The Minister was invited to see how the Government investment is being used to support:
- A 50% increase in the number of Park & Ride spaces available in total to 2,860 spaces. Construction work is well underway at Odd Down (set to complete before Christmas) and Lansdown (set to complete March 2013). Work at Newbridge will begin early 2013 with completion June 2013;
- A new £2.5 million bus fleet - paid for by First, supported by a £650,000 contribution from the Government's Green Bus Fund - which is hybrid diesel/ electric meaning less carbon emissions and a quieter, more comfortable journey for passengers. The eight brand new buses have free Wi-Fi, leather seats, and climate control to improve journey comfort. They will start running from Sunday 28th October 2012;
- A seven day a week service for the first time ever which caters for the increasing number of people who travel into Bath to work, shop, or visit on Sundays with regular Bank Holiday services as well.
Norman Baker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, said, "Effective public transport is vitally important to local economies like Bath and North East Somerset, and new infrastructure can provide the missing links that are often so crucial in getting economies moving and creating opportunities for new investment and employment .
"The Government is investing a lot of money into sustainable transport in the west of England, including over £16 million here through the Bath Transportation Package and Green Bus Fund."
Justin Davies, Regional Managing Director for First in the South West and Wales, added: "We are thrilled to be operating this service on behalf of the Council. The addition of the new buses, which were delivered in the last few weeks, is fantastic.
"They will deliver more comfortable and more environmentally friendly journeys for our customers. The trial that we undertook in Bath through the EU Civitas Project showed that the city was well suited to the use of hybrid vehicles on its Park and Ride Services as the buses are able to generate significant battery power through the regenerative braking system as they approach the city centre from the Park and Ride sites on the outskirts. This allows us to save fuel as we can capture the free energy that is created by braking and use this to help power the buses. This in turn means that the buses use less fuel, produce fewer emissions and that they are better for everyone."
Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of Council, added, "These improvements are part of the Council's plans to build a transport system fit for the twenty-first century and ensuring that services are tailored around the people who we want to use them."
For more information about the Council's Park & Ride services, including information on prices and season tickets, go to www.bathnes.gov.uk/parkandride
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