CHESHIRE West and Chester Council will be asked to approve an extension of Chester’s Park & Ride contract at the next Cabinet meeting.

A decision will be made at the meeting on February 7 about an 18-month extension of the contract with the current Park & Ride (P&R) provider.

This would allow continuity of the current service and allow time to begin re-procurement exercise of the service.

A full appraisal of the P&R’s operational and contractual position has been completed, also comparing, fares, ticketing, quality and operating practice against many other P&R operations across the UK.

The Council is at the early stages of engagement for the development of a new Local Transport Plan for the borough, setting out its vision and values for transport.

The P&R delivers on a number of these priorities and will be integral in the revised Bus Service Improvement Plan to be submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) in June 2024.  Both of these will help shape the future of Park and Ride service.

The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Councillor Karen Shore said: “This extension would allow Park & Ride services to continue from Wrexham Road, Upton and Boughton Heath until January 2026.

“Our P&R services are integral to the realisation of the Council’s Local Transport Plan, Bus Service Improvement Plan, Climate Emergency Response Plan, Parking Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan in Chester.

“The Park and Ride sites are convenient interchange points at the junctions of the local and national road networks, which helps us to manage our road network assets, particularly during peak times and seasons, and further enhances the borough’s tourism offer.

“This is a complex challenge.  The need for the Council to maximise value for money as well as integrate Park & Ride with the local bus network will take further time.”

The Council has introduced a new ticket pricing structure, increased the types of ticket on offer and promoted the service widely on social media, together with promotional campaigns celebrating 40 years of P&R in Chester.

Free travel in January 2024 funded from the Government's Bus Service Improvement Plan+ (BSIP+) grant has seen around a 30 per cent increase in passengers compared to January 2023 and supports the Council’s response to the cost-of-living crisis and climate emergency declaration.

With targeted campaigns both revenue and passenger numbers are on an upward trajectory.

More information about the Park & Ride, including timetables and routes are available on the Council’s website.