Disclaimer: Prices were correct at the time this article was published.
The bus driver I spoke to was really quite competitive - and proud. In a couple of minutes, he’d explained that the service would be much quicker if it wasn’t for all the cars in the way and that, actually, at nearly 20 years old the Shrewsbury Park and Ride was the biggest and the best in the county.
“You know there’s three?” I did. “I normally do Meole Brace,” he continued, having alighted from his cab initially only to enquire why someone was taking pictures of his bus.
“Working for the Daily Express or something?” No…I told him I was hoping to put together the complete guide to Park and Ride in Shropshire. And this, I hope, is it…
So what is it, this Park and Ride? Think of it like taking your car to the bus stop and going into town rather than just, well, driving your car or catching the bus.
For a small fee - or even for free in some cases - you get to park the car for the day, or an hour or two and let the bus take the fuss out of getting to the centre of attraction. Usually, the routes are circular, which means you can hop on and off at the most convenient points.
And the logic, as the proud driver of Shrewsbury’s Harlescott service so rightly pointed out, is that if more people stopped at the edge of town and caught the bus, there would be fewer cars in town centres. They would be less congested and much more pleasant places to visit.
The counterpoint is that being stuck on a bus in heavy traffic is no less frustrating than being stuck in a car in heavy traffic. And at least in a car you have the option to change your route in order to find newer, even more frustrating congestion.
Shropshire has Park and Ride services in Shrewsbury - three routes; Ludlow; Ironbridge; and Bridgnorth, but they’re not consistent and they’re not consolidated. Shropshire Council run the Shrewsbury service in conjunction with Aviva; The Ironbridge service has Telford and Wrekin Council, the Department for Transport and the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site as partners; Ludlow is a Shropshire Council contract with Minsterley Motors; and Bridgnorth has been a pilot scheme running through the summer of 2015, a private initiative involving the town’s Chamber of Commerce and a number of local sponsors.
Prices differ, hours differ, availability differs. And to some extent you can understand that. The service has to respond to local needs. The Ironbridge service, for instance, is open April to October, but only at weekends, bank holidays and summer holidays. That said, the view from the Park and Ride car park is a fabulous.
Park and ride locations in Shropshire
Operates from Harlescott (nearest postcode SY1 4HA, next to the Tesco Extra store),
Meole Brace (SY3 9NB, to the south of the Meole Brace Retail Park, close to Toys R Us) and
Oxon (SY3 5AD, behind the Bicton Heath Co-operative and Vets 4 Pets).
The buses themselves have low-floor access at the front - ideal for pushchairs and a ramp for wheelchair access. There are pick up and drop-off points around the town centre, although only the Oxon service goes via Frankwell island and only the Meole Brace service goes via Old Potts Way. The service is available Monday to Friday after 9.30am and all day Saturday and the cost is £1.60, although that’s half-price for bus pass holders. English concessionary bus pass holders can travel at half price after 9.30am Monday to Friday and all day Saturday for 80p. Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and Shrewsbury High School students can get a half-price discount Monday to Friday during term time. The return fare is 80p for students aged 16 or over with a valid student ID. Season tickets are: £6.40* per week, £24.00* per month; Smart rider tickets £2.10*; Ten tripper tickets £14.40* (valid for three months). A group ticket for five adults travelling 9.30am Monday to Friday and all day Saturday is £2.50. Accompanied children under 16 years go free, but if you lose your ticket it will cost you £1.60. Phew… Except for the pooch. Dogs can travel with you - at the driver’s discretion.
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The Ludlow service (Bus Number 722) operates Monday to Saturday from the Eco Park site to the town centre from 7.15am and then every 30 minutes until 5.45pm. The first bus to the town centre is at 7.15am Monday to Saturday and the last bus leaves the car park at 5.45pm arriving at the Assembly Rooms at 6pm where the service ends. First bus from the town centre to the Eco Park (SY8 1ES, just off the A49 at Sheet) is at 7.30am Monday to Saturday and the last bus leaves the town centre at 5.30pm. The route from the Eco Park goes via Sheet Road, Parys Road, Tollgate Road, Green Acres, Steventon New Road, Temeside and Castle Square. Ludlow park and ride services operate around the town Monday to Saturday. Parking is free all day and there is on-site CCTV and cycle parking. The bus fare is £1.20 return from the Eco Park site.
The car park is situated at TF4 3QE off the A4169, not far from the Jiggers Bank island. The service runs at weekends and bank holidays from Easter to the last Saturday in October, as well as Monday to Friday during the Telford Schools summer holidays. Car parking is free and English national concessionary bus pass holders and children travel free. Otherwise it’s £1 for adults. There are buses every 12 minutes and in Ironbridge there are connections to all of the Gorge Museums including; Blists Hill Victorian Town, Coalport China Museum and Jackfield Tile Museum via the Gorge Connect bus service at the Museum of the Gorge bus interchange.
Bridgnorth Park and Ride is the latest addition to the family, having run a pilot service throughout the summer of 2015. The service was due to finish at the end of September, so it will be interesting to see whether it continues, although the Bridgnorth Town Crier website reported on July 24: “ The Park & Ride run by the Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce from April to the end of September 2015 is a success . Although in the very first week in April (at 9.30am ) we had one passenger on the 16 seater coach ….oooer… We thought . We have made a Horlicks of this! “Then at around 10.30am in the first week the passengers began to come in and a queue started for the bus and we were up and away.” Which all sounds very hopeful!
The limited service was free for the duration of the trial, running every 20 minutes from Tasley Auction Yard and Old Smithfield Road.