Park and ride

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A road sign for park and ride in Oxford, United Kingdom.

Park-and-ride (or incentive parking) facilities are car parks with connections to public transport that allow commuters and other people headed to city centres to leave their vehicles and transfer to a bus, rail system (rapid transit, light rail, or commuter rail), or carpool for the remainder of the journey. The vehicle is stored in the car park during the day and retrieved when the owner returns. Park-and-rides are generally located in the suburbs of metropolitan areas or on the outer edges of large cities. Park-and-ride is abbreviated as "P+R" on road signs, and is also mentioned as P&R in colloquial speech and writing.


In Sweden, a tax has been introduced on the benefit of free or cheap parking paid by an employer, in situations in which workers would otherwise have to pay.[1] The tax has reduced the number of workers driving into the inner city, and increased the usage of park-and-ride areas, especially in Stockholm.[citation needed] The introduction of a congestion tax in Stockholm has further increased the usage of park and ride.

In Prague, park-and-ride carparks are established near some metro and railway stations (ca 17 parks near 12 metro stations and 3 train stations, in 2011).[2] These carparks offer low prices and all-day and return (2× 75 min) tickets including the fare for the public transport system.[3][4]


In theory, park-and-ride facilities allow commuters to avoid the stress of driving a congested part of their journey and facing scarce, expensive city-centre parking. They are meant to avoid congestion by encouraging people to use public transport as opposed to their own personal vehicles. They do so by making it easier for people to use public transport in an urban area with traffic congestion, and often to reduce the availability of car parks to encourage this behaviour.[citation needed]

Park-and-ride bus in Carmarthen, Wales.
Park-and-ride car park in Prague-Opatov near the metro station, with a ticket machine offering integrated fare.
Typical park-and-ride sign in the United States, this one located at the interchange between Interstate 79 and Pennsylvania Route 488 in Portersville, Pennsylvania north of Pittsburgh.

There is a relative paucity of research on the benefits and disadvantages of park-and-ride schemes, which are often marketed as a way to avoid the difficulties and cost of parking in the city centre, but it has also been suggested that there is "a lack of clear-cut evidence for park-and-ride's widely assumed impact in reducing congestion".[5]

Park-and-ride facilities serve the needs of commuters who live beyond practical walking distance from the railway station or bus stop which offers service to the city centre.[citation needed]

Park-and-ride facilities may suit commuters with alternative fuel vehicles, which often have reduced range, since the facility may be closer to home than the ultimate destination. They also are useful as a fixed meeting place for those carsharing or carpooling or using kiss and ride (see below). Also, some transit operators use park-and-ride facilities to encourage more efficient driving practices by reserving parking spaces for low emission designs, high-occupancy vehicles, or carsharing.[citation needed]

Most facilities provide services such as passenger waiting areas and toilets. Travel information, such as leaflets and posters, may be provided. At larger facilities, extra services such as a travel office, food shop, car wash, cafeteria, or other shops and services may be provided. These are often encouraged by municipal operators to improve the attraction of using park and ride.[citation needed]


British research suggests that the impact on congestion may be limited. Looking at both the UK policy background and evidence from an award-winning scheme in Cambridge, Jonathan Manns notes "an Hellerian 'Catch‑22' situation, whereby the survival of local politicians is dependent upon its continuation, irrespective of its actual successes".

In Cambridge, it is suggested that "there does not appear to be evidence of an overall drop in vehicle flow within the city" and thus that "while cars parked at the park-and-ride sites are themselves no longer contributing towards the congestion externality, traffic flows are being generated elsewhere – for example, flows between car parks and homes from locals at whom the park-and-ride was not targeted but who nevertheless are attempting to commute to the service. This is significant in that while certain cars are removed from the flow, new flows are stimulated net of other individuals, thereby significantly negating the overall impact of the service".[5]

Bus park and rides[edit]

A park-and-ride bus in Exeter, England.

Park-and-ride facilities, with dedicated carparks and bus services, began in the 1960s in the UK. Oxford operated the first such scheme,[citation needed] initially with an experimental service operating part-time from a motel on the A34 in the 1960s and then on a full-time basis from 1973. Better Choice Parking first offered an airport park-and-ride service at London Gatwick Airport in 1978.[6] Oxford now operates park and ride from 5 dedicated car parks around the city.[7] As of 2005, Norwich has the biggest park and ride in the UK, operating from six separate sites around the city.[8]

Railway park and rides[edit]

Some railway stations are promoted as a park-and-ride facility for a distant town, for instance Liskeard for Looe and Lelant Saltings for St  Ives, both in Cornwall, England. Stations in the UK with large carparks outside the main urban area are often suffixed with "parkway", such as Bristol Parkway, Tiverton Parkway, and Didcot Parkway. At Luton Airport Parkway and Southampton Airport Parkway, the stations are there to serve air as well as road passengers.

Park and ride lot adjacent to the MTA Dongan Hills railway station in Staten Island, New York City.

In the United States, it is common for outlying rail stations to include automobile parking, often hundreds of spaces. Boston, for example, has built several large parking facilities at its commuter rail and metro stations near major highways and large arterial surface roads around the periphery of the city: Alewife, Braintree, Forest Hills, Hyde Park, Quincy Adams, Riverside, Route 128, Wellington, Woburn. The local transit operator, the MBTA, offers 46,000 park-and-ride spaces.

Bike and ride[edit]

A busy bike-and-ride facility at a Miami Metrorail heavy-rail station.

B & R (B + R) is a name for using cycle boxes or racks near public transport terminals, mostly together with P & R car parks. This system can be promoted through integrated fare and tickets with public transport system.[9]

Kiss and ride[edit]

A road sign of the Czech Republic since 14 July 2010.
Kiss-and-ride sign at a MARTA station.

Many railway stations and airports feature an area in which cars can discharge and pick up passengers. These "kiss-and-ride" facilities allow drivers to stop and wait, instead of the longer-term parking associated with park-and-ride facilities.

The term first appeared in a 20 January 1956 report in the Los Angeles Times.[10] It refers to the nominal scenario whereby a passenger is driven to the station by spouse or partner; they kiss each other goodbye before the passenger catches the train.[10][11]

Some high-speed railway stations in Taiwan have signs outside stations reading "Kiss and Ride" in English, with Chinese characters above the words that read "temporary pick-up and drop-off zone". Most people in Taiwan have no idea what the colloquialism in English means.[12]

Deutsche Bahn has announced that it will be changing the English expressions for Kiss and Ride, Service Points and Counters to German ones.[13]

Car-share park and rides[edit]

Park-and-ride schemes do not necessarily involve public transport. They can be provided to reduce the number of cars on the road by promoting carpooling, vanpooling,[14] and carsharing. Partly because of the concentration of riders, and thus a reduced number of vehicles, these park-and-ride terminals often have express transit services into the urban area, such as a high-occupancy vehicle lane. The service may take passengers in only one direction in the morning (typically towards a central business district) and in the opposite direction in the evening, with no or a limited number of trips available in the middle of the day. It is often not allowed to park at these locations overnight. These attributes vary from region to region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Skatteverkets skrivelse, Information om beskattning av parkeringsförmån" (in Swedish). Skatteverket. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  2. ^ "Aktuální obsazenost P+R | Dopravní podnik hlavního města Prahy" (in Czech). Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  3. ^ "TSK Praha - P+R" (in Czech). Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  4. ^ Petr Kvapil, Lira IS s.r.o., "ROPID-Cestujeme…-P+R, B+R, K+R (od 1.7.2011)". Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  5. ^ a b "Park-and-ride - politics, policy and planning". Town and Country Planning Association. March 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  6. ^ "BCP Company Information & Car Parks Offered". Airport Parking Shop. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Coming soon - new look Norwich Park & Ride" (Press release). Norfolk County Council. 4 April 2005. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  9. ^ "Doprava: Pražská integrovaná doprava a cyklisté". 2005-06-22. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  10. ^ a b "Transit Plan Agreement Smoked Out". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 20 January 1956. p. 4. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  11. ^ David Crystal (2003). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge University Press. p. 285. ISBN 0 521 53033 4. 
  12. ^ "Kiss and ride signs stump Taiwan rail passengers". Reuters. 5 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  13. ^ "German railways shunt English into sidings". BBC News. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  14. ^ "Park and Ride | Commuter Park'n'ride Options". Vride. Retrieved 21 September 2012.