Park-and-Ride: Good for Cars, Bad for Transit

A new study out of the Netherlands finds that contrary to their intended function of encouraging a mode shift to transit, and away from autos, such facilities might actually increase car use, to the detriment of alternatives.

"On paper, park-and-ride facilities seem like the ultimate transport compromise," writes Eric Jaffe. "Free or cheap parking near transit stations should, if the theory holds, make partial transit riders of metro area residents who used to drive the whole way into work. The system acts like a nicotine gum for daily commutes — weaning people slowly off the single-occupancy car."

However, following up on prior studies that called into question the benefits of such facilities, an article in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Transport Geography, by Dutch researcher Giuliano Mingardo, "reports that park-and-ride facilities in two major metro areas create four measurable 'unintended effects' that not only limit the benefits of transit but may even increase vehicle travel in the metro area."

"Across both metro areas he found evidence for four unintended effects of park-and-ride facilities — two of which (asterisked) had never been documented:

  • Abstraction from transit. People who had once made the entire commute by transit now drove to the transit station.
  • *Abstraction from bike. People who had once made some or all of the commute on their bicycle now drove to the station.
  • Trip generation. People made more trips in general because the overall cost of transportation was lower.
  • *Park and walk. People parked at the station but walked somewhere nearby and didn't use transit at all — potentially displacing transit riders and disrupting the area parking market."

Full Story: How Park-and-Ride Encourages Car Use

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