Portway Park & Ride Station opened with much fanfare 100 days ago on 1st August 2023. Leading local politicians, GWR officials and the Secretary of State for Transport attended. The event was widely reported on local media.
Now that that the dust has settled, we review the new station to see what’s working and what needs to be improved.
How well is Portway Park & Ride station being used?
The business case for the station assumed it would attract around 70,000 passengers in its first year of operation, rising to about 130,000 over ten years. This forecast was made before COVID-19.
As of early October 2023, the station was attracting around 800 people per week. This is about 40,000 passengers per year, but usage is growing. A number of factors make figures difficult to compare at the moment. Recent anecdotal evidence suggests that passenger numbers may be recovering more strongly that expected, despite the continuing effects of strikes.
The Office of Rail and Road should have released journey and revenue statistics in early October, but has delayed them for a month. We should get a better view of the station’s performance when these figures are released. We are cautiously optimistic.
What could be improved?
The station is poorly signposted from the A4 Portway. There is no signage at all at the new pedestrian entrance.
There is a refuge island in the middle of the A4 to help people cross this busy, wide road to get to the pedestrian entrance. This needs to be improved to provide safe access to the station. Surprisingly, the planned improvements to the A4 do not appear to address this.
Real Time train information is available once you have entered the station. There is no real-time information about buses anywhere, and train information is not available at the bus shelter.
The rail operators have been slow to integrate the station into their IT systems. The station’s ticket machines were not working when it opened, and GWR have only very recently got the tap in – tap out smart card system working.
We hope that this type of glitch will not recur when other new stations open in our area!
On-site facilities are basic, limited to a toilet in the portacabin by the bus shelter.
Bristol City Council plan to change the junction with the A4 to allow buses to access the Park and Ride site from the north. Buses can only currently access the site from the south. The new access will allow shuttle buses to operate between the Park and Ride and the coming YTL Arena at Filton.
Although primarily aimed at motorists, this change will presumably allow rail passengers to access the shuttle buses too. It also enhances the Park and Ride site, making it more of a transport hub.
Looking further ahead, Bristol Rail Campaign will continue to push for services between the Severn Beach Line and Filton via the Henbury Loop. This would allow Park and Ride users to access the Arena by train.
We think Portway Park & Ride station has a bright future. As the Park and Ride site develops into a transport hub, and local rail services improve, it will play an increasingly important part in the move to more sustainable transport.