TO mark the return of the Upton Park and Ride from Chester Zoo on Monday (September 28), all fares across the entire service will be half price until the turn of the year.

Cheshire West and Chester Council says it is acting on feedback from residents and businesses on how to improve travel options into the city centre, and to help protect the environment.

The clear message during both the 'Stronger Futures' and 'Walk. Ride. Thrive.' consultation was the need for more active travel opportunities, reductions in speeding and to tackle the climate emergency for a greener and sustainable future.

To help more commuters and visitors to travel into Chester city centre using environmentally friendly transport, the Upton Park and Ride from Chester Zoo will reopen on Monday.

It will operate as a shuttle service to and from the Chester Bus Interchange via the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Between September 28 and January 4 next year, free travel will be provided for NHS employees travelling to the Countess of Chester Hospital from the Upton Park and Ride site (by showing their ID badge).

During this same period, the price for all of Chester’s park and ride services are also being halved.

The council says its park and ride service provides the most cost-effective form of transport into the city centre.

Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said: "We are supporting commuters, businesses and visitors by halving the cost of parking for Park and Ride users for three months, including the festive period which is a particularly important time for the city.

"We have previously facilitated free parking for NHS staff during the Covid-19 outbreak and our appreciation continues.

"I am therefore pleased to provide free use of the Park and Ride services operating from the Upton site for NHS staff until the New Year.”

"By increasing the use of Park and Ride we can help to reduce the congestion on the roads leading into Chester city centre. This has three effects; journey times will be quicker; savings can be made on parking and more importantly we will be reducing car usage to improve air quality and reduce emissions helping to meet our climate targets."

New COVID-19 safety measures are in place to protect both customers and bus drivers, including screens to separate passengers from the drivers, compulsory wearing of a face covering and contactless payment.

Park and Ride buses operate a frequent service (every 15 minutes from Chester Zoo and every 12 minutes for Boughton and Wrexham Road):

  • Monday to Friday between 7am and 7pm
  • Saturdays between 8am and 7pm
  • Sundays and Bank Holidays between 9.30am and 6pm

The council says it has consulted with residents on plans for active travel initiatives, including trial active travel lanes across the borough.

The A51 and A5116 were both identified as immediate suitable corridors for this purpose and the council received funding of £161,000 from the Department of Transport for these and other active travel schemes.

Less than 10% of journeys are currently taken by public transport. To achieve the council’s target of being a carbon neutral area by 2045, almost a third (29%) of journeys will need to be by public transport by this time.

The new active travel lanes on the A5116 between the Dale Camp roundabout and Upton Grange crossroads, and on the A51 in Boughton by The Bars roundabout, start from October 5 in order to make cycling a safer option and increasing the speed of public transport.

The Government’s ‘Gear Change’ vision, highlights that there is a once in a generation opportunity to accelerate active travel.

Councils have been told to re-allocate road space for significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, with some streets becoming bus and bike only.

Councillor Shore added: "The new active travel lanes are in place to address massive challenges including improving air quality, combatting climate change and improving health and wellbeing.

"There is no easy answer, the issues we are facing require a step change in cycling, walking and public transport. This is very much an experimental process, and we will continue to listen and learn. We will be monitoring both roads carefully. The scheme can be changed and adapted at every stage."

The Council is also establishing a Sustainable Transport Taskforce to consider what the opportunities and barriers may be to deliver ambitious inclusive walking, cycling and public transport projects and what can be done to secure positive outcomes.

These dates are subject to any future announcements from the Government in relation to Covid-19 and may therefore be changed at short notice.

  • To have your say on the new routes, please send comments to: