Park & ride facilities are often said to be beneficial for the environment. Because they encourage people, and make it easier for them to use public transportation, their existence is claimed to be contributing to a more sustainable future. But is this really the case?
One of the main arguments for park & ride facilities is that they reduce traffic. However, this is not necessarily the case. Rather than witnessing the traffic in inner cities, the vehicles are relocated to suburban areas where the park & ride facilities and lots are present. Traffic levels aren’t reduced, they are simply redistributed.
Another claim in favour of using park & ride facilities is that they help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Again, however, this is not the case. Park & ride facilities are not encouraging people not to use their private vehicles. They are, in fact, encouraging the use of cars. The air pollution levels as a result from park & ride facilities might be reduced in inner cities, but in suburban areas where the facilities are located, the pollution rates might actually increase.
Furthermore, large park & ride facilities are a waste of space. Why should such a large amount of public property be devoted to parking? Parking lots are not the vision of the future; greener cities and suburbs are, where people can move freely without worrying about traffic or air pollution.
One could argue that the money spent on building these parking lots could be better distributed, towards creating a more sustainable environment. Why not spend the money on better and cheaper, more local bus lanes connecting people to the larger transits? Instead of having hundreds of people driving alone to their nearest park & ride facility, these people could take a connecting bus with the purpose of shuttling suburban inhabitants to their nearest connecting bus- or train stop. Furthermore, money spent on park & ride facilities can be used to subsidize carpooling, making it a better and more attractive alternative for everyone.
Lastly, the problem with free park & ride facilities is that it encourages people to drive. Simply put, should parking cost, in addition to the bus- or train ticket, more people would leave their car at home. That's why park & ride facilities should not be free.
Passenger is the answer to a more sustainable commute. If you live in a so-called commuter town, aim to fill the vehicles in use instead of driving alone to your nearest park & ride facility. Passenger actually reduces traffic and air pollution, as we are minimising the number of vehicles out on the roads. Carpooling is eco-friendly, cheap and social. It has never been easier finding a ride or finding passengers for your trip. Never ride alone again.
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