York Council finally confirms that “new” Park and Ride contractor will be First

 

Electric Park and Ride bus

Three weeks after revealing that a new P & R contract has been let the York Council has issued a statement confirming that the current contractor First York will also run the new services.

The statement says,

“The council and First York are set to extend their partnership delivering York’s Park & Ride service after the bus operator successfully bid for the seven year contract commencing in early 2018.

The new partnership agreement will see fully electric buses operating on three of the six routes, with brand new Euro 6 diesel buses completing the Park & Ride fleet. To help make journeys quicker and easier for passengers, First York have committed to complement the existing range of cash, smartcard and mobile ticket options with contactless bank-card technology.

Alongside this the new buses will also have displays providing useful information for passengers including details about the next bus stop, service data and other useful local information.

Overnight parking will also be introduced at the Askham Bar and Monks Cross Park & Ride sites giving visitors the ability to park at the site en-route to their hotel accommodation, or to access the rail network for a journey elsewhere lasting more than one day.
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Electric vehicle recharging wrangle in York

There is confusion today about whether private vehicles can access the rapid recharging points at Monks Cross and Poppleton Bar.

The points were funded from a government(OLEV)  scheme but are largely used by the  First electric Park and Ride buses.

It appears that electric car drivers have been turned away from the points although they are shown as available on a vehicle charging “app”. The Councils iTravel web site says that vehicle charging points can be found on this map (click)

Apparently the Monks Cross rapid charge points have been recorded on the National Charge Point Register has having restricted access for cars. The Council says that a third party app has been advertising these as ‘available’ which has caused confusion for local EV drivers.

In response to an FOI enquiry the Council has confirmed that the dedicated chargers were used on 1157 occasions, using 22025 kWh of energy, during the first quarter of 2017

The Council says,

“the Monks Cross Park&Ride supervisors are able to permit cars to charge where this does not impact the bus service and this does happen occasionally however the buses have charge point priority as they have no viable alternative location. For cars, the nearest rapid charger is one mile away at The Sports Village and EV drivers are recommended to use these facilities instead”

.Range  anxiety is one of the main reasons for the slow take up of electric cars. Being certain that a charging  point will be available is of major concern for drivers.

Electric vehicle public rapid charging points

There are other charging points in York many of which are located on car parks and at hotels

Mixed news on new Park and Ride service

Park and Ride network

It seems that the council has finally received a bid to run its park and ride service. When the contract was first advertised no bids were forthcoming.

In the main the service will continue at it is today.

Key changes include

  • a facility to use contactless bank cards to pay for journeys.
  • Motorists will be able to park overnights (for up to three days) at the Askham Bar and Monks Cross sites (involving the provision of barrier access).
  • New Euro VI compliant buses including the replacement of some articulated single deck buses with double deckers
  • 11 single deck fully electric buses will be retained together with 3 fully electric double deckers

New Alexander Dennis Enviro 400MMC buses proposed

However users face a fare hike from £2-90 to £3-10 with a 10 minute frequency.

A number of enhancements including a late night service are on offer but are unlikely to be accepted for cost reasons.

The new contract will reduce the council’s income to an estimated £80,000 a year.

The Council have refused to disclose the name of the proposed operator.

The new contract will start next year.

Park & Ride fare hike

From 26 March 2017 there will be a number of fare changes introduced on York’s Park & Ride network.

The Council claims, “These changes have been introduced in line with national inflation and earnings data and to help meet the operational costs of running York’s high-quality Park & Ride service”.

There was of course no fall in fare levels when the price of fuel plummeted 2 years ago.

The future of the park and ride service remains unclear following the failure of the Council to attract any bids to run the services under strict new contract rules. First has had its contract extended for a short period of time.

New fares are:

  • Day ticket (bought in multiples) to increase from £2.50 to £2.60
  • Adult returnto increase from £2.80 to £2.90
  • Adult weekly to increase from £11.20 to £11.60
  • Adult monthly to increase from £44 to £46.40
  • Adult annual to increase from £440 to £464

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Award for York Electric Park & Ride Buses

Irony lost on Council as it downgrades its “green” specification for new park and ride contracts
Electric bus fleet

Electric bus fleet

Only a few days after the York Council leadership agreed to consider tenders for new park and ride services which do not include the use of ultra low emission vehicles on most routes, its existing electric fleet won a sustainability award. The service has been run in partnership with First from the sites at Poppleton and Monks Cross for the last couple of years.

Fears about the cost of replacement batteries, led the Councils Executive last week to downgrade its emission expectations when discussing a new contract specification for park and ride services in the City.

A contract for the new services attracted no tenders when it was advertised earlier in the year.

A media release for the Council today says, “York’s Park & Ride Scheme, which is run in partnership with First York and City of York Council, is setting the standard for other Park & Ride sites across the country, after scooping a prestigious accolade for its contribution to sustainable transport, at the North of England Transport Awards.

The North of England Transport Awards reward and encourage innovation and excellence and help disseminate the very best practice throughout the north of England, and this year, York’s Park & Ride scheme received the Contribution to Sustainable Transport Award.

In particular, First York was recognised for its wider commitment to providing greener travel for the region, with its fleet of electric vehicles, helping to reduce CO2 emissions in the city.

First York operates two fully electric Park & Ride routes at Poppleton Bar and Monks Cross, working in partnership with City of York Council and local bus manufacturer, Optare. The two schemes, which launched in 2014 (Poppleton Bar) and 2015 (Monks Cross), run 12 zero tailpipe emission electric vehicles, and were one of the first fully electric Park & Ride schemes in the UK”.
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York Council stuggling with new Park & Ride tender specification

 

It looks like a lower specification for park and ride services in York will apply soon.

Park and ride busesThe Council failed to find any tenderers for a new contract offered earlier in the year.Now they seem to set to compromise on the type of vehicle that will be allowed and perhaps fare levels and frequencies.

The earlier failure by the industry to step up to the mark prompted talk of cartels and accusations of insider knowledge of the Councils “bottom line”

The Council in a statement today said,

Following dialogue with a number of bus companies which helped to better understand any issues which prevented them from submitting a viable bid for the Park & Ride contract earlier this year, City of York Council is confident that a new operator for the service will be now secured.

It’s expected that a new tendering exercise to secure an operator for the Park & Ride service from February 2018 will start shortly after the decision by the Executive (Wednesday 7 December).

In the interim, the council has negotiated a 12 month extension to the current contract with First York, whose contract expires at the end of January 2017. This will ensure that residents and visitors will continue to benefit from a high quality Park & Ride service until a new operator is in place.

As a result of the review, alterations to a number of the key specification areas have been considered and drawn together into these three main options:

Option 1 providing maximum flexibility for the bidder to tailor the Park & Ride network. For example, the operator would determine the level of service and fares to be charged.

Option 2 (the recommended option) – providing a level of flexibility for bidders whilst retaining council control and influence in a number of key areas. The service specification would identify the boundaries for fares and service frequencies but would allow greater flexibility in other areas such as vehicle type.

Option 3 – providing a level of service similar to the unsuccessful tender earlier in 2016. It retains maximum council control of the Park & Ride service in all areas except fares.

Executive Members will be asked to consider all of the options at a public meeting on 7 December. Option three is considered the least likely option to secure a compliant bid from the market. This is due to the lack of flexibility given to the bidders and the financial expectations placed upon them. However, under options one or two, compliant bids could be expected and the scoring of tenders would include an assessment of the quality of the service proposed by the operator including the proportion of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) proposed within the bid.

Executive takes place on Wednesday 7 December from 5.30pm at West Offices and is open to members of the public or is available to watch live online at www.york.gov.uk/webcasts

 

Extra Christmas Park & Ride services

There will be extended Park & Ride (P&R) services on Thursdays and Boxing Day.

Park and ride busesIn the lead up to Christmas, the council is working with First York to provide a late night shopping service on all Park&Ride routes every Thursday, with the last bus leaving the city centre on all routes at around 9.30pm. For exact timings visit www.itravelyork.info.

The extended service will run from Thursday 17 November to coincide with the biggest Christmas market in York’s calendar – York Christmas Festival (which includes St Nicholas Fair), which runs between 17 November and 23 December.

In addition to this, passengers will also be able to take advantage of travel on Boxing Day on three P&R routes (standard fares apply):

  • Askham Bar (white line – route 3) – First bus at 7am from the site, last bus back from Tower Street at 6.40pm
  • Designer Outlet (red line – route 7) – First bus at 7am from the site, last bus back from Rougier Street at 6.40pm
  • Monks Cross (silver line – route 9) – First bus at 7am from the site, last bus back from Rougier Street at 6.40pm

All three services will operate at a 15 minute frequency throughout the day for all passengers and will serve all bus stops along the route.

 

To find out more about the Christmas bus offer or to find the best bus route through York, try out the council’s  i-Travel York online Journey Planner at www.itravelyork.info

No takers for York’s new Park and Ride contract

First gets 6 month extension on present contract terms

Park and ride busesCity of York Council opened a tender process for bus operators to bid for a new contract to manage one of the UK’s most successful Park&Ride services in June.

With over four-million passenger journeys each year, the council was confident the tender would attract a number of high profile bids to continue offering the best possible deal for residents and visitors.

There was speculation that the low emission specification for the required buses, combined with a tight financial expectations, have combined to make the contract unattractive to commercial bus operators. At the moment the Council makes around £100,000 a year in revenue surplus from the service. The scale of the service means that the number of bus companies that could tender is restricted to only the largest operators.

The Council now says, “although there was strong interest in the contract, at this stage of the procurement process no responses meeting the council’s financial expectations against the specification tendered were received.

The council is confident that an operator will be secured in the coming months and following dialogue with a number of bus companies, options for addressing the concerns of potential suppliers will be developed. Subject to Executive approval on 13 October, the results of this review will be brought before the council’s Executive in December, prior to the issue of a further invitation to tender.

The council has negotiated a six month extension to the current contract with First York, whose contract expires at the end of January 2017. This will ensure that residents and visitors experience no changes to the Park&Ride and will continue to receive the same level of service until a new operator is in place.

New electric bus fleet

York’s electric bus fleet

Executive will be asked to approve this extension at a public meeting on13 October.

Councillors will then be asked to determine which elements of the specification they would wish to alter at December’s Executive.  This could include alterations to the frequency of service, type of bus used on the service and fares charged”.

Cllr Ian Gillies, Executive Member for Transport and Planning said: “We’re pleased that this tender received strong interest and we have already approached operators to establish what alterations to the Park&Ride specification might be required to enable them to bid again.

“Whilst it’s disappointing that no compliant responses were received at this stage of the process, we’re confident we will secure a new operator who will work with the authority to provide a service, which will work towards achieving its targets over the length of the contract.”

Executive takes place on Thursday 13 October from 5.30pm and is open to members of the public or is available to watch live online from:www.york.gov.uk/webcasts

To find out more about the report, or to attend, click here

York’s first Park&Ride service started in the late 1970s, operating from two free under utilised car parks just beyond the city walls, catering for peak demand for Christmas shopping and the first permanent Park&Ride site opened in 1990.

Growth in demand is shown below.

  • 1990 – 159,690 passengers
  • 1995 – 734,150
  • 2000 – 1,146,379
  • 2005 – 2,625,250
  • 2016 – now over four-million passenger journeys each year

Details of Christmas bus services in York

“Free” Park and Ride from some sites on Boxing Day

All Services
Click to access
Click to access

[5]Additional buses from:

  • (1) Wigginton at 0607, 0633, 0725 /
  • Chapelfields at 0625, 0655 /
  • (5/5A) Strensall at 0620 /
  • Acomb at 0620, 0650 /
  • (11) Bishopthorpe at 0703 /
  • Ashley Park at 0753 /
  • (12) Foxwood Lane at 0635, 0725 /
  • Monks Cross at 0658, 0728
Park and Ride
Click for full timetable

Click for full timetable

[6] Free buses on 3, 7 and 9 running every 15 minutes, calling at all stops: York Boxing Day timetable

Electric bus award nomination for York service

 Electric bus on chargeCity of York Council along with partners First York and Optare have been shortlisted for an award at the prestigious UK Bus Awards.

The nomination is for the Environment category and notes the work that the council, First York and Optare have completed by creating and running a fully electric Park&Ride service from the newly built site at Poppleton, which was opened in June 2014.

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