Fringe Box



Talks Go Ahead on Reopening Onslow Park & Ride Service

Published on: 29 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 28 Apr, 2023

The Onslow Park & Ride has not been in operation since the pandemic. At one stage it was used as a Covid testing centre.

By David Reading

Plans are being drawn up to restart the Onslow Park & Ride service, on the outskirts of Guildford near the Royal Surrey County Hospital. But no decision has been made on whether there should be direct access from the A3 – which many people still believe to be essential.

The service has been out of operation since the beginning of the pandemic and even before then, the number of users was low.

Surrey County Council said in a statement that up until now there had been no strong business case to restart services from Onslow, given the passenger numbers at Guildford’s other Park & Ride sites, but talks had been held on how to move ahead.

A county council statement said: “It is the ambition of the Stagecoach bus operator, SCC and Guildford Borough Council that a service does restart at Onslow. There has been discussion on what this will look like, how it will be resourced, funding of the service and so forth. There are no timelines at present but we would expect a way forward in the coming months.”

Following recent talks with Stagecoach, SCC said firm proposals from the operator were expected in the next few weeks.

The statement said: “This is a positive step forward with the hope that Onslow could come back on stream in the coming months.”

The Onslow Park & Ride was constructed by SCC in 2013 using government funding. GBC has a lease for the land with the University of Surrey, and manages the car park.  Stagecoach operates the Park & Ride bus service network on a commercial basis.

But the pandemic took its toll on Guildford’s Park & Ride service and usage plummeted. SCC said that even now it was only around 35 per cent of pre-Covid levels. Artington and Merrow are operational at present, with Spectrum suspended and Onslow yet to return to operation following the Covid testing that took place at the car park.

SCC says that with the downturn in demand for Park & Ride – caused by numerous factors including change of working practices and less footfall in the High Street – Stagecoach was unable to maintain the full network. And bus frequencies fell as the operators sought to match driver availability against service provision.

At a public consultation meeting in 2012 SCC representatives were told by local residents that the Onslow Park & Ride needed direct access from the A3 to work well.

At the time the car park was being planned, local residents warned that without direct access from the A3 it was unlikely to attract motorists as they would have to spend time driving through the busy Egerton Road to get to the car park, then wait for a bus, which would take them back over part of the same busy route on its way to the town centre. That issue still has to be resolved.

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Responses to Talks Go Ahead on Reopening Onslow Park & Ride Service

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    April 29, 2023 at 8:31 am

    Direct access from the A3 could only be possible if the A3 improvement scheme is resurrected. Unfortunately, National Highways currently has no such scheme lined up.

    I have suggested such a scheme in my document that can be found by searching for ‘A3 widening sequence copy_compressed (1).pdf ‘

  2. Ramsey Nagaty Reply

    April 29, 2023 at 11:10 am

    Yet again residents have been proved right.

    Without direct access from the A3 it was unlikely to attract motorists as they would have to spend time driving through the busy Egerton Road to get to the car park. This then adds to the congestion on Egerton Road.

    We do need a joined-up realistic Park & Ride policy. With the Local Plan bringing a 25 per cent increase in homes mainly outside the town centre and car-dependent our overloaded roads will grind to a halt.

    Ramsey Nagaty is a GGG candidate for Shalford in the forthcoming GBC election

  3. H Trevor Jones Reply

    April 29, 2023 at 8:00 pm

    When Onslow Park & Ride did operate, I always thought the P & R buses, which I saw passing along Guildford Park Road, were generally lightly loaded. So I used to think it would make sense to combine the P & R with one or more of the local bus operators’ routes, which in those days also included Arriva as well as Safeguard.

    I have no personal interest in the operation as I don’t drive and do live quite near the railway station.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    April 30, 2023 at 9:28 am

    Part of it should be used for hospital visitors, with a shuttle bus.

  5. Julian Lyon Reply

    April 30, 2023 at 12:17 pm

    There are a few important points to note – and I am aware there is some history wrapped up in legal agreements between GBC, the university and the hospital from ten years ago and more.

    1. There is a latent demand for parking spaces in that area – at the Research Park, hospital, and university, among others, yet the P&R was run on the basis of free parking and pay per passenger on the bus at a rate that would have allowed a couple to park in town for several hours rather than use the P&R. The parking spaces were taken up by people who largely did not use the P&R bus (explaining the ‘lightly-loaded’ buses referred to by H Trevor Jones.

    2. There was no signposting to the Onslow P&R on the A3 for a long time after it was created, and then when one got to the Tesco roundabout, there was a sign in the opposite direction to the University P&R (Saturdays only) – poor signage is a major reason for people to bypass the P&R altogether.

    3. Many of us residents groups and the Guildford Society lobbied for the P&R to have its own slip off the A3 and for the new road infrastructure to make a connection to Beechcroft Drive, avoiding that challenging access off and onto the A3 for the residents there. A dedicated slip for the hotel and P&R would have helped to deliver a much stronger solution.

    4. The P&R buses could have called at the hospital for drop off and pick up, which would have helped to alleviate the problems for staff and visitors when driving to the hospital. The pay-to-park approach would mean that there was a clear parking price and effectively a shuttle bus between the hospital and the car park.

    5. If the P&R also took away the need for the Guildford Park Road car park, that would mean there was no requirement for more parking spaces there; this would need to come with longer hours of operation – which would also benefit the hospital. Longer hours of operation would also help to reinforce the dwell time in the Town Centre so that shoppers could stay in town for an early dinner before going back to their cars.

    6. It would not be beyond the wit of man for the BID District funding to be used partly to help create a shopping pick-up service where shoppers can park at the P&R, come into town and arrange for their shopping to be delivered to the P&R for collection – making shopping (and actually buying things) much easier in Guildford.

    7. One of the other challenges we have in Guildford town centre is the peak hours traffic (and no, I am not aware of any party that is actively considering a congestion charge). This is largely caused by school traffic (aside from the queues on the A3), and maybe there would be scope to set up after-school and breakfast-club facilities at the P&Rs so that parents could drive to the nearest P&R, drop their children off and the children could be bused to school.

    8. It may also be appropriate to consider a cycle scheme where people could drive to the P&R (pay to park) and pick up a bicycle to ride into town.

    9. Finally, there should be scope for the P&R buses to drive through the town from one P&R to another – with enough frequency to make them convenient enough. This should mean that a family could pay to park in the P&R, receive a (free) ticket each when getting onto the bus which would allow them to hop on and off the P&R buses around town, a little like a shuttle bus, hopefully making access to the forlorn areas of the Upper High Street much easier and more desirable.

    There also needs to be a thorough rethink of local buses, pricing and frequency; and of parking spaces and charging. I am committed to trying to promote change by bringing as many different stakeholders together as possible to solve this challenging problem with a sustainable and viable solution.

    Julian Lyon is a R4GV candidate for Stoke ward in the forthcoming GBC election

    • Lottie Harding Reply

      May 1, 2023 at 8:16 am

      I have to take issue with the notion that morning and after-school clubs at P&R sites will ease congestion.

      Most, if not all, schools have these anyway and they provide a vital income stream to cash-strapped school budgets. A high proportion of children who attend state schools live within one to three miles of the school and can often walk, cycle or get normal buses to school.

      In my view, a significant proportion of the school traffic issue is caused by the fact that those who could walk or cycle or get normal buses don’t.

      In addition, there is a high percentage of private schools in Guildford whose families live nowhere near to the school and so have no alternative to using their cars. On top of that, the majority of people who work in Guildford can’t afford to live here and so commute.

      • Julian Lyon Reply

        May 2, 2023 at 5:36 pm

        That’s a fair comment from Lottie Harding.

        Perhaps this should be aimed more at those who do travel some distance to schools – and it is perfectly possible the idea doesn’t work at all. The main aim of throwing thoughts out there is to get valuable feedback just like yours, so many thanks for taking the trouble to reply.

        Julian Lyon is a R4GV candidate for Stoke ward in the forthcoming GBC election.

  6. G Duerden Reply

    April 30, 2023 at 10:32 pm

    It’s ridiculous that this site remains closed whilst people have to fight for space at RSCH. RSCH is within easy walking distance for many and if the cost of parking there was half that of RSCH it would provide the additional spaces required for hospital visitors and give regular users a cheaper parking option.

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