Shrewsbury's Oxon site could be relocated entirely as part of Shropshire Council’s planned overhaul of the service, according to a report to be considered by the authority’s cabinet next week.
Branded ‘Shrewsbury Connect’, the new park and ride will see waiting times for buses halved from 20 minutes to 10, and additional stops included such as Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, the Flaxmill and Theatre Severn added in a bid to increase passenger numbers.
A ‘North Connect’ Line will travel out of the Harlescott site, ‘South Connect’ out of Meole Brace and ‘West Connect’ out of the site currently at Oxon.
The three routes, distinguishable by buses branded in different colours, will converge in the town centre and share multiple stops allowing passengers to switch routes.
Each park and ride site will include indoor seating areas, a cafe, toilets, ticket machines and electric vehicle charging points. Electric buses will “feature prominently” on the service, according to the report to cabinet.
Fares will also be reviewed in order to make the service “commercially viable”.
The report, by transport commissioning manager James Willocks, says: “Shrewsbury Connect is a re-imagining of the tried and tested park and ride formula.
“The current service provides passengers with a semi-express link from three strategically placed sites across the outskirts of Shrewsbury to the town centre, ultimately giving passengers one choice in destination, and whilst there is plenty for Shrewsbury town centre to offer, a change in customer demand requires more choice and potentially access to more destinations across the entire town, outside of the river loop.
“A new network is vital for its revival and encouraging the public to access this service rather than park in the town centre.
“In the concept, Shrewsbury Connect will now expand upon the existing park and ride model by providing cross route travel. Passengers boarding at one site can now access every stop along the whole network and continue to access the service as a ‘hop-on-hop-off’, Monday to Saturday, 6.30am to 7.30pm.
“To improve upon this, additional strategic stops have been added along all three routes, and this can be adapted as Shrewsbury and the Town Centre develops and people’s travel habits change as a result.
“These currently include, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Shrewsbury Business Park, Flaxmill and Theatre Severn to name a few.
“This new service can be marketed at tourism, visitors, residents and commuters alike.”
The report says the Oxon site is “not currently seen as being in a suitably strategic location”, and suggests an alternative location would provide better links to the hospital.
Passengers boarding at any interchange will have the choice of purchasing a ‘line ticket’, allowing them to use the service as before by only accessing stops on their route, or a ‘connect ticket’, which can be used on any of the three routes.
Cabinet members will be asked on Monday to agree to formally launch the park and ride transformation programme. Future reports will be brought back to cabinet following detailed assessments of the proposals.