Accessing the high street
Transport considerations are among some of the most important for town centres. With limited amounts of space, busy roads quickly become congested bringing hazards and pollution to open spaces. Yet car users are a large and profitable market segment, thanks to shifts in consumer lifestyles in recent decades.
Therefore, town centres have to balance being car friendly with preserving an open, clean and safe environment for cyclists, pedestrians and users of public transport.
- 13. Borrowing private car parks
- 14. Park and Ride
- 15. Replacing Pay and Display car parks with barrier-operated systems
- 16. Displaying real time parking information
- 17. Linking a town centre together
- 18. Case study: Manchester Metroshuttle
- 19. Unifying public transport
- 20. Shopmobility
- 21. Maximising Gateway opportunities
13. Borrowing private car parks
Town centres often struggle to meet the car parking needs of shoppers. They could, however, consider borrowing well-located parking space from businesses and institutions at times when these organisations are closed.
This measure can be used during busy shopping periods such as weekends and bank holidays.
14. Park and Ride
Park and Ride helps alleviate car parking pressures in the town centre by promoting commuter parking on edge-of-town and out-of-town sites. This ensures that shoppers parking requirements can be met.
A successful Park and Ride scheme offers customers a suitable alternative to in-town parking. They should be located on the main routes into the town and must be prominently signed. The cost of Park and Ride should be competitive compared to town centre car parks and the bus service must be frequent.
Park and Ride routes should also be integrated with railway stations and other major public transport interchanges to offer commuters a viable alternative to driving and parking in the centre.
15. Replacing Pay and Display car parks with barrier-operated systems
A significant percentage of car crime happens in car parks. To improve the security of vehicles, Pay and Display car parks could be replaced by barrier-operated ones. This removes the need for car owners to publicly display a return time on the windscreen which opportunist thieves may take advantage of. This also reduces the chances of a vehicle leaving the car park without its owner and their ticket.
Furthermore, if a customer uses Pay and Display they must predict how long their shopping trip will take. An enjoyable visit could be brought to a hasty end to avoid a parking fine which results in loss of income for town centre businesses. A barrier-operated system allows the customer greater flexibility.
A barrier-operated system would not necessarily incur costs from employing a car park attendant. A 'payment on foot' policy, where the customer obtains a ticket on arrival and then pays at a self-service machine on their return to the car park, removes the need for barriers to be manned.
16. Displaying real time parking information
Real time electronic parking information, can significantly assist the flow of traffic and lessen customer frustration. These systems could promote alternative car parking as popular and convenient parks reach capacity.
17. Linking a town centre together
Helping people to move around inner town and city centres quickly and easily can be a good way of encouraging visitors and increasing footfall in areas which might not be a regular destination for many. This can be especially helpful in larger centres where people may be put off carrying shopping longer distances.
18. Case study: Manchester Metroshuttle
Manchester city centre is linked together by its free city centre bus service, the Metroshuttle. In operation since 2002, the Metroshuttle consists of three routes that traverse the city centre, linking the city's major thoroughfares and stations with its main commercial, financial and cultural districts.
The Metroshuttle is a partnership between the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, Manchester City Council, National Car Parks and the property developer Allied London, and is partially supported by advertising. The service is completely free and does not require any tickets or passes. It costs approximately £1.2 million a year to operate. Similar smaller scale schemes are in operation in nearby Bolton and Stockport.
Manchester's Metroshuttle - on the Manchester City Council website
19. Unifying public transport
A holistic review of public transport followed by genuine integration on everything from infrastructure to branding could offer visitors a viable alternative to the car. A unified transport system for the town centre depends on high levels of cooperation between transport operators but can have a significant affect on convenience for shoppers and commuters.
Transport for London (TfL) have utilised this method to great effect with the introduction of the Oyster Card - a pay-as-you-go card which can be used to travel on any public transport in London by simply scanning it as you enter and depart stations or vehicles.
The Oyster Card offers cheaper transport than standard fares and makes it easy for people to move around the city without the need for numerous paper tickets. While a scheme of this nature requires significant planning and investment, for larger cities a similar incorporative transport card could be something to consider.
London Oyster card - on the Transport for London website
Shopmobility is a service that can help those who consider themselves to have mobility problems make the most of the town centre experience.
Whether a person suffers from a disability, injury or illness, Shopmobility can help them get around a town centre as well as take advantage of the local services on offer.
A Shopmobility scheme can work well when integrated with public transport and disabled car parking spaces.
Information on Shopmobility - on the Shopmobility website
21. Maximising Gateway opportunities
Bus stations, train stations, car parks and key pedestrian routes into the high street are all 'gateways' to the town centre. Use these entry points to promote what tourist, cultural and retail attractions your town centre has to offer.
Town maps and visitor information should be made available at these points.
2 May 2012