City Science was commissioned by Hampshire County Council (HCC) and Winchester City Council (WCC) to carry out a Study that assessed the operating model of the existing Park & Rides (P&Rs) in Winchester. As patronage has dramatically reduced and travel patterns have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, our Study sought to understand the impact of changes to payment mechanisms, pricing, bus routes and frequency, and electric bus fleet replacement on patronage and revenue.
We assessed, both qualitatively and quantitatively, several future operating model options and provided a set of clear recommendations. Our recommendations directly informed the upcoming P&R bus contract process, with the current contract due to expire in 2024. It was also required to reflect the City of Winchester Movement Strategy; to reduce vehicular dominance in the city centre. A key emphasis of this Study therefore included exploring a suitable pricing strategy that could make Winchester’s P&R more attractive to non-commuters and diversifying patronage.
City Science Response
Our options assessment was underpinned by an extensive baseline evidence, including local authority and bus operator engagement and a literature and best practice review. This helped us understand how similar authorities have adapted to changes to P&R demand.
We also utilised existing data including parking intercept survey responses and P&R ticketing data. To quantitatively assess options, we utilised a number of in-house tools to:
- Predict P&R patronage changes based on pricing adjustments to the P&R fare and the city centre parking tariffs. This is a cost model that considers the holistic cost of travel options, such as wait and journey times for the P&R passenger.
- Calculate the viability of an electric bus fleet through consideration of the charging requirements and therefore fleet requirements of buses based on the existing route and timetable. We also considered the whole life cost of the fleet compared to diesel, calculating maintenance, operating and capital costs.
- Assess route and frequency adjustments, through calculating required changes to fleet sizes and the impact on wait time and journey times for P&R passengers.
The Study was delivered on time and to budget, to allow for the timely preparation of the upcoming contract renewal process. Based on the assessed options, the Study broadly recommended:
- The development of a pricing strategy that makes P&R much more attractive than city centre parking through changes to parking tariffs
- Encouraging short stay and weekend users of the P&R, who have not traditionally been the target audiences of P&Rs, through targeted pricing strategies
- Providing specific off-peak P&R fares for key employees served by the route
- Allowing a range of payment mechanisms at the P&R sites to reduce barriers associated with convenience
- Improved targeted marketing and advertisements for the P&Rs