Portway Park & Ride Station: The first 100 days

Train about to depart Portway Park & Ride heading for Avonmouth

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.

Pedestrian entrance to Portway Park & Ride station
Pedestrian entrance to Portway Park & Ride station. There are no signs here to let people know there is a train station.

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.

Pedestrian crossing on A4, seen from pedestrian entrance to Portway Park & Ride station
Pedestrian crossing on A4, seen from pedestrian entrance to Portway Park & Ride station, There does not appear to be any plan to improve this crossing.

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.

Portway Park & Ride bus shelter information board, November 2023
Portway Park & Ride bus shelter information board does not mention the train service, or how to get to the station.

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.

Portway Park & Ride facilities cabin, November 2023
Portway Park & Ride facilities cabin could best be described as ‘functional’

What’s next?

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.


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4 responses to “Portway Park & Ride Station: The first 100 days”

  1. Teresa Mcgill avatar
    Teresa Mcgill

    Thanks for progress report. Plenty forBRC
    to get its teeth into as usual.

    Has BRC any comment on ticket offices success?

    1. Tim Weekes avatar
      Tim Weekes

      Yes – we’re very happy that these plans have been withdrawn. It seems hardly anyone thought closing ticket offices was a good idea, which makes one wonder why it was proposed in the first place.

  2. Ash Samville avatar
    Ash Samville

    I don’t like it. I hate it for many reasons. Why celebrate the mediocrity of something basic need that the city has asked for for decades yet it could even do that, right? I don’t media post about new bus stops with major opening and having cake.

    The fanfare and media coverage are just pathetic and sad to watch. I see more like an old man finishing the race years after the race is done in the wrong direction.

    People in the city need every station, every platform, and every track restored, and expanded based on the city’s historical rail map. Public transit is the most important thing a city needs which it never meets. The fact city still couldn’t surpass railway abilities a century ago. A city old rail built with a lower population is even more embarrassing.

    This station is nothing more than a car park with train tracks that exist to support outdated car dependency city planning inspired by the US. We all know how that went.

    The city hasn’t improved changed for better for decades. Without good quality public transportation people refuse to support the city and each other. It used to be there. Connecting communities, creating support expanding jobs, and reaching places never before, turning the worthless path of green into a busy town, creating tourism, escaping the city, transporting troops, supporting industry, and much more.

    I have no faith in the city delivery of quality transport after waiting too long. You’re not convincing anyone to give up their car and I don’t blame them. The city has created a toxic car culture similar to the US but worse. Pollution, congestion, parking on pavement, an eyesore, crash more. Drivers are beyond horrible and you give them nothing to replace them with. And no cycling isn’t the solution people are only doing that because they are hippies who think they’re saving the world with huge egos and environmental agenda

    The city is beyond out of touch. Changing Colston Hall is a worthless gesture of sunk cost fallacy. Cities in the UK have already done better for decades by undoing Beeching axes and more. There’s nothing we can do

  3. Willie Williams avatar
    Willie Williams

    I’ve been to 2nd world cities with more reliable, more efficient public transport than Bristol. Try crossing the north of the city without going into the centre , your head will explode with frustration.

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