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Parking charges at Station

From Nina Smith

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

According to today's Yorkshire Post (25 February), the Department for Transport is allegedly seeking to impose car parking charges at 18 stations in West Yorkshire, including Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Todmorden and Brighouse, as part of the extension to the current franchise that they are currently negotiating with Northern Rail.

If this is true, this is a severely retrograde step which will have a number of detrimental consequences:

  1. An unknown number of travellers will decide to drive to their destination instead of using the train. The impact of this is more air pollution on a road that already has very high levels, and more carbon emissions thus contributing further to climate change. It will also add to congestion on already congested routes.
  2. Achieving modal shift from cars to trains will become more difficult, which means that those vehicles's emissions will continue.
  3. There will be an increasing amount of on-street parking.
  4. The cost of going to work will further increase at a time when rail fares are rising faster than inflation.

Please can people write to our local MP, Craig Whittaker, asking him to urge the DfT to drop this proposal.

From Paul D

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Could you not turn that argument on its head? That is, parking charges might encourage more people to walk to the station or use the fairly extensive bus connections thereby having a positive environmental impact?

The current parking is for a particular kind of rail user, namely daily commuters who leave by 7:30 or so, after which it's full and so not available to other rail users at all. So we're really just subsidising commuters whose journeys are already subsidised. Employment locally doesn't alway bring such perks.

But the point about these subsidy and/or carbon junkies finding free alternatives is crucial. All our roads are clogged with payment avoiding parkers, shelf road is almost lethal. Keighley road ridiculous. They park in drives, abandon their cars at the top of mayroyd lane,or at the tunnel. As close as they can waddle it seems. Any new charges need careful thought. These commuters don't seem to care too much.

From Kez Armitage

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

I think we need to go even further. As it is, cars are parked nose to tale from Machpelah towards Walkley's Clogs, so much so that I sometimes wonder whether those parking at the Mytholmroyd end would be actually better off walking to Mytholmroyd station.

Quite simply, there isn't enough car parking space for rail commuters in Hebden Bridge at the moment. The free station car park, and the pay car park by the gas works fill up by 7.30, so anyone arriving after that, even if they're willing to pay, has no choice other than to park on the main road.

One enterprising local resident was, I understand, prepared to turn an area off Mayroyd Lane into a car park (this was the land to the East of the station, where an application for housing was rejected some time ago). This resident was going to tarmac, sign, and manage the site. Yes, there would have been a charge, but, for whatever reason, Calderdale said no.

The glaring choice for additional car parking is the coal merchants to the West of the station. This would more than double the existing station car park. The reason for the coal merchant being there in the first place is purely historical - coal used to be delivered by rail. But there's no reason why this site couldn't be used for car parking.

But, to get back to Nina Smith's point, we should be encouraging, not discouraging, people to use public transport. How any government, either at national or local level, and how Metro can even contemplate putting an additional cost on those of us who have put our faith in our rail and bus network, is quite simply beyond me.

From Eleanor Land

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Parking for the station affects many residents. I live at the bottom of Palace House Road. There is nose to tail parking opposite the terrace where I live, Monday to Friday. I have to reverse over my garden, on to a steep hill, trying to avoid hitting the cars permanently parked opposite my house in icy weather. It is an absolute nightmare between the hours of 8 am. to 6pm.

Deliveries to my house or visitors have absolutely nowhere to park. I also have to run the gauntlet of parked cars on Shelf Road, which start shortly after the corner of Hebble End right up to the traffic lights. This causes real problems for cars coming on and off the bridge on Palace House Road.

It is about time the council started to address the problems caused by cars parking for the station, a few more double yellow lines in some areas are needed.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 2 March 2014

As always Nina makes sensible and well informed points about the daft proposal to impose charges on rail users using the car park at HB station.

My only minor quibble would be her suggestion we write to 'One Term' Whittaker as judging by his woeful performance as an MP it would just be a waste of time.

Sadly, Paul D just trots out the usual anti-commuter stuff without understanding we are already paying through the nose for our tickets. Imposing parking charge is simply another stealth price rise with any discernible improvement in the service.

Commuters are now in the majority in terms of local employment. I'm sure most of us would prefer not to have to do two hours travelling every day but the sort of jobs we do aren't here in Paul's HB utopia.

I suppose we can console Paul with the fact we pump millions of pounds into the local economy when we spend our filthy commuter lucre.

From Paul D

Sunday, 2 March 2014

But commuters don't pay 'through the nose' for anything. People who choose to live 20, 30 miles or more from their place of work pay what that choice results in - the going rate to get there and back every day and one that enjoys significant state subsidy.

I'm not anti commuter but free parking for them and not the pensioner off to Bradford for an appointment, the family taking the kids to Blackpool, why? Why do those in receipt of subsidies every working day demand more?

From Paul Clarke

Monday, 3 March 2014

Hmm...so it is only us greedy commuters who enjoy these 'significant' state subsidies not the pensioner who chooses to go to Bradford or the family who chooses to go to Blackpool.

Paul, you clearly don't pay for a season ticket which despite these 'significant' state subsides takes up a 'significant' proportion of my income,

I would also point out there is nothing to stop the mythical pensioner or the mythical family going to Blackpool from parking at the station. Commuters don't have reserved parking spaces,,,it is first come, first served.

Finally, enlighten us...can you clearly outline to me as a taxpayer the size of these 'significant' subsidies and how they might apply to my zones 1-5 annual travel pass?

From Graham Barker

Monday, 3 March 2014

The points both Pauls make have validity. Commuters are easy targets for price hikes, so their loss is the off-peak traveller's gain. But at 12.30 today there wasn't a single free space at either the station or Station Road car parks. Assuming that's a daily occurrence, many off-peak rail users can't park at all, or certainly can't rely on finding a space.

A solution could be to use the land between the station and the former Walkley's Clogs. There is presumably too much flood risk for it to be built on, so it would be ideal as a large landscaped car park. The fly in the ointment is access, but demolish the mill - surely inevitable anyway given its poor state - and it should be possible to create safe access from Burnley Road.

Doubtless it would have to be pay and display, but with a little goodwill - or a lot of campaigning - the fee could be refundable in some way for rail season ticket holders.

From Anthony Rae

Monday, 3 March 2014

In 2007 and taking forward proposals that emerged out of the Traffic Review I had a number of discussions with Metro and the various rail partners with a view to expanding the station car park: not just because the parking demand created by commuters had by then already filled the spaces available, and thereby created the overspill problem on the A646, but also as part of a longer term plan to create an 'integrated transport hub' for Hebden: the station is the right location for private, public and active transport users all to interchange – so that includes coach parking as well, and any additional long stay parking for the town should that be necessary – and there is space there as well. Detailed scheme layouts, which would add either another 60 (option 1) and 125 (option 2) spaces to the existing 85 – so 145 and 210 in total – were drawn up but the sticking point they said was the absence of a revenue stream in the form of parking charges to pay for ongoing maintenance. Despite my repeated prompting, in the end they gave up – citing that Metro would not take a policy decision in favour of charging where appropriate or necessary - and so 7 years later the problems are still there although other car parks along the Calder Valley line have been extended in the meantime.

As part of the work on the Hebden Bridge Partnership 20:20 Vision document the idea of a Transport Hub and enlarged station car park has been revived, an encouraging discussion was held with Ian Gray, Calderdale's Director of Economy & Environment in October, and his colleagues are once more chasing Metro. But my reading of the Yorkshire Post article is that the impasse of 2007 is being reinvoked, with Metro 'urging Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to shelve the idea' of charges.

I don't think the arguments against charging in this thread are particularly strong. The notion that train users will switch back to their cars seems less than likely: although only a trip length survey would provide the evidence I suspect that most of these train commutes would be over quite some distance so not practical to reassign back to road, and in any case the driver would then be faced with the difficulty and greater expense of parking at the other end. Therefore it's unlikely that there would be an emissions impact either. As to 'willingness to pay', we already have the experience of users of the Town Council's Station Road car park – never intended as an overflow but in practice used as one – who seem prepared to pay £1.50 a day, and it would always be open to the rail franchisee to give a concession to season ticket holders etc.

Ian Gray told us that Calderdale knew that the problem of on-street parking on the A646 would have to be tackled at the same time so were developing proposals to do that; and I'm grateful to Eleanor Land for pointing out that the overspill has spread to Palace House Road, which I've subsequently inspected and it's true. It's certainly the case that train fares are rising faster than RPI and car costs (for the latest figures, look here page 43) but Paul D's general argument does apply – that 'people who choose to live 20, 30 miles or more from their place of work pay what that choice results in', and also receive the benefits – and at the moment the social costs arising from their decisions are being imposed elsewhere.

This is not making the case that parking charges should be imposed in isolation, and they shouldn't be introduced without expansion as the other half of the deal; but if it's the difference between car park enlargement taking place or not then charging needs to be considered. So if people were to write to our MP I hope it's not to ask DfT to stop the charging proposal but to urge that the car park extension scheme actually and finally happens.

From Paul D

Monday, 3 March 2014

Again not being anti-commuter but yes I can shed some light on the subsidy enjoyed by local rail users, 7.3 pence per mile direct from the state. See this web page

So to Leeds or Manchester I'm guessing about 3.00 to 3.50 a day for free. Factor in the free parking, even at local rates of 1.50 nearby and a fiver a day for not working here seems pretty generous.

But Anthony's point on creating more parking is a bit spurious even though the hub isn't. The old gasometer jams up before 9:00. Usually Sheard's are seen as in the way and their coal yard earmarked for parking, not likely without a large carrot. But more tarmac is just the usual madness, more car use, not less, more parking for about a month, that encourages more commuting which is like watching collective environmental suicide through a dirty train window. The solution is more incentive to create local employment, more home working, more flexible working and less travel.

It's a bit like online supermarkets, they make the old ones seem like strange places to spend one's valuable time and scarse resources getting to and from. That's commuting, not very odd now but should be and will be. Sorry if that's an attack on what seems normal - but working nowhere near you live isn't.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 3 March 2014

Just to clarify my earlier post, I meant the strip of land between railway line and river that was once the Walkley's car park. Thinking about it a bit more, that's probably high enough to be built on but would still be better as a car park.

The lower-lying land along roughly the same stretch between canal and river is more of a flood risk and so might only be viable as a car park.

Either way, there's enormous parking potential in those few acres. There's nothing original in any of this, so I wonder why both strips of land are still unused after many years.

From John Smithson

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

I think it worthwhile linking a couple of current threads on the HebWeb discussion forum; Parking charges at Station and Bus Changes. Car parking at the station is a problem – too much demand for the available resource. A proposal to charge for this provision will do nothing to address the problem unless the revenue raised is used to provide alternative provision. Potentially there are opportunities to expand the existing surface car parking to land occupied by the coal merchant and land between Walkley Clogs and the station. An alternative would be to build a mutli-story car park on the existing station car park. I'd be against these proposals on cost, environmental and capacity grounds. Costs are unlikely to be serviced fully by revenue from users, so requiring state subsidy. The environment is unlikely to be enhanced by tarmacking additional land and encouraging further car use. The capacity of additional car parking is likely to be exceeded over a short period of time.

It is time to think about alternatives to car parking at the station.

The local bus service is under considerable pressure from reduced state subsidies and declining passenger numbers leading to reduction/combination of bus routes. I've yet to see a full local bus, most seem to be carrying a handful of passengers at a time. I'd suggest the local bus service as currently operated is in terminal decline.

It is time to think about alternatives to the local bus service.

Peak transport demand is associated with travel to work arrangements. Currently hundreds of local people choose to travel to and from the station (often alone in 4/5 seater cars) in order to get to work. They do this at defined periods of the day, 06.30 to 09.00 and 16.30 to 19.00. Within these periods people arrive/depart the station at defined times associated with train movements. You would have thought this to be a golden opportunity for a local bus service to take people to and from the station, however, I rarely see more than a couple of people using the local bus service in this way.

Could a transport survey be undertaken with station car users to determine their needs with a view to adapting local bus service provision to meet such needs?

From Anthony Rae

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Brief responses to the postings since my earlier one -

Paul D: 'Anthony's point on creating more parking is a bit spurious even though the hub isn't.' It's not spurious because there was and still is an actual proposal to do just this; and it's there in answer to a longstanding but unresolved problem. We can't leave such problems hanging about in the hope that people will take up our preferred bigger solution (in this case: stop commuting).

Graham Barker: the Walkley's car park and Mayroyd aren't suitable for more parking because the access is unsuitable or impossible, they're too distant, and both sites are Green Belt (not that, as it happens, that designation entirely prohibits car parks), but more importantly they aren't needed either. There is more than enough space at the station itself simply by extending the existing car park partly or wholly into the coalyard.

John Smithson: 'a golden opportunity for a local bus service to take people to and from the station'. Indeed but what is undermining this happening – in addition to high bus fares and the absence of integrated bus+rail ticketing, which are other issues beyond this immediate discussion - is that there isn't a charge for parking: why pay the bus fare when parking is free and the only car costs are for its marginal use? Putting on a reasonable charge, thus reducing the gap between the two costs, ought to encourage some car drivers to make the modal shift, and thus also boost the revenue of this vital bus network.

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Commuters use a bus instead of their cars? You are having a laugh. It amazes me that this selfish band of travellers drive to and from the station, one per car, park on the road and even pavements, causing obstruction, traffic delays and pollution. All so they can sprint out of the station, hop in their cars and cause a bit more smog on the way home.
Car sharing doesn't even come into consideration.

From Larry Kin

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

What are the owners of the coal yard's views on their longstanding business premises being compulsorily purchased and turned into a car park?

From Martin C

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

If you look at the spreadsheet linked to by Paul D, you will see that the total subsidy for Northern Rail is actually 40p per passenger mile, not 7.3p - six times the national average. I doubt the subsidy on the well used Calder Valley line is that high but I'm afraid its hardly surprising that the government are trying to drive a hard bargain with Northern.

Car parking charges are the tip of the iceberg, other sources suggest 'significant' fare increases and/or reduction in services will result from the Northern franchise extension.

We have actually been very lucky for years with low WYMetro regulated fares and free station car parking.

From Andrew B

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

I cannot believe what I have read, no matter how many times I read it; people are suggesting that a business should have to move to make room for people who can't be bothered to walk or get a bus?

The new bus service has revised prices and a much better timetable for many, and is reliable - I haven't yet known a bus miss. Perhaps people could trial using the bus then if they find it OK, think about adding the 'bus' use onto their season ticket?

As Paul D has already said, anyone who needs to park from 7.30am onwards doesn't have a chance anyway - they have to either park elsewhere or make alternative arrangements.

Suggesting that a business should have to move because you can't park is ridiculous. Why don't we force all the businesses on Valley Road to move and build a supersize multistory car park there. After all, town centre parking isn't too good!

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 6 March 2014

To deal with the points Anthony Rae and John Smithson make:

Access to the Mayroyd and Walkley's sites is difficult but need not be impossible. And while both may be green belt, neither can be regarded as high quality green belt. I did in any case suggest landscaping; that and permeable grassed paving rather than asphalt could make both sites environmentally acceptable as car parks.

As for parking on that scale not being needed, I see this as a solution for the whole of Hebden Bridge, not just the station. Much is made of using the coalyard, but as Larry Kin and Andrew B suggest, the coal merchant might take a dim view of that. If Hebden Bridge wants a once and for all solution to its parking problem, the Mayroyd/Walkleys options really are the only ones.

Are they really too far away? If I drive to the White Rose Centre or Trafford Park on a busy Saturday, chances are I'll have to park much further away from the shops I want to visit than that. Park and ride could be provided if necessary, but the distances involved aren't excessive. And anyone who is scared of a little walking perhaps shouldn't be living in Hebden Bridge in the first place.

John's idea about bus links is, I fear, a non-starter. Buses can't get everywhere, they won't always be punctual, getting to the station will take longer and it won't be cheap. Buses will also have to be available for the return journey. That's before you consider commuters who might have children to drop off or collect. I can't see either commuters or bus companies seeing much promise in this idea.

From Kez Armitage

Thursday, 6 March 2014

It may not be a case of forcing a business to move, but persuading them to move by offering them premises more suited to their operations. In the case of Sheard, which delivers coal throughout the valley, I'd have thought they might jump at the chance of a nice easy access site, rather than having to negotiate the station approach and junction with the main road.

The fact is, of course, that imposing charges will do absolutely nothing, other than annoy the commuting public. Most will pay up and, as it is now, the car parks will be full by 7.30. Residential roads, and the main Halifax road will continue to be congested by later arriving commuters. As as Hebden Bridge grows, as it is scheduled to, the problem will only get worse.

Yes, it's a lovely idea that people abandon their cars and use the (in my opinion, fabulous) local bus network, but I'm afraid people are wedded to private transport. If you own a car, you're going to use it - the less you use it, the more per mile it actually ends up costing you.

You could certainly make it difficult for drivers. Ultimately you could rip up the station car park, put double yellow lines on all local roads, and make the approach to the station bus and taxi only. But coercion isn't the best way - persuasion is so much better. If only the parking fees could be used to further subsidise local buses. If indeed all local public transport was free - now there's a radical idea which might persuade some of those drivers.

But, to end on a downer, I don't think anything will change. If anything does, it'll be people deciding to use their cars all the way to their place of work. Rather traffic jams and congestion in the comfort of your own vehicle with its in-car entertainment, than having to endure those over-crowded and increasingly expensive cattle wagons they call trains! But that's another matter...

From Anthony Rae

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Some further brief responses –

Closure of the coalyard business?: The reason why two layouts were drawn up in 2007 (see my posting on 3rd March) was that the first one only took part of the coalyard, allowing the business to continue. As Kez Armitage points out, another option would be relocation. The business is on a lease, with Network Rail the freeholder.

'Imposing charges will do absolutely nothing, other than annoy the commuting public. Most will pay up and, as it is now, the car parks will be full by 7.30am': Basic economics (increased supply + increased price reducing demand for a previously free good) suggests this is not the case.

'If Hebden Bridge wants a once and for all solution to its parking problem, the Mayroyd/ Walkleys options really are the only ones': This mirage of a 'giant car park' that is repeatedly invoked as a solution to Hebden's claimed transport problems – on these flat sites, Calder Holmes, or a multi-storey either at the station or in the town centre; previously we had the Garden Street near disaster, thankfully averted – really ought to be abandoned in favour of sensible and incremental improvements to the management of the town's total parking stock (which is not at all the same as simply adding large numbers of physical spaces) on the one hand, and further moves in favour of public and active transport. Reasonable parking charges at the station, combined with some more spaces directly at that particular location which would also be available for Hebden's visitors at the weekend, and modal shift to and greater use of the local bus network, would all contribute to that approach.

But I repeat my original point: the Mayroyd/Walkleys sites are non-starters; the access doesn't work and they are too distant either from the station or the town centre.

Dismissive attitudes to commuters: It simply is a fact of life that many people who live in Hebden and use its station are commuters, travelling to Manchester or Leeds and places in between and beyond. If they didn't rail patronage would plummet, subsidies would increase (see the next point) and the case for Calder Valley line electrification, which I'm pleased that the Council is now mounting viguorously, would be undermined. So it's better that we concentrate our efforts on increasing the sustainability of that travel (in terms of the mode of travel used for the main leg of the journey) whilst also responding sensibly to local problems that can inevitably arise. And it's Metro's failure to do the latter, and better ensure the integration of the bus-to-rail connection, that has originated this and other Hebweb discussions; against the background of national transport policy that systematically inhibits integration.

- Subsidies to the rail operator: This is not really central to the local issue but the reason why rail subsidies in the northern (and other) regions are at the level they are is because subsidies on the London and South East networks are relatively so much less. Why? – because of the huge flows of comparatively better off commuters in/to the SE and the relentless investment over decades in those networks, all producing large economies of scale. Consequently SE costs per passenger are so much less, so less subsidy is needed. Pointing a finger at the subsidies given to regional rail services leads you either back to Dr Beeching's solution (closure) or the need to invest as much per head in the North as in the South; again a bigger question, for which Robert Peston's current TV programmes on regional imbalance provide the illuminating context.

From Martin C

Saturday, 8 March 2014

I have to disagree with Anthony's comments on subsidies. Whether or not it is central to the local issue depends on what you consider the local issue to be. However reduction in the current high subsidies is the reason for the original story - the possible introduction of parking charges.

It is also incorrect to state that Northern's subsidies are at similar levels to the rest of the country (excluding London & the SE). As the link shows, there are other Train Operating Companies in the South West, Midlands and East Anglia that run similar rural networks that operate at a fraction of Northern's 40p per passenger mile subsidy. The next highest subsidy in England is Trans Pennine Express at 16p per mile.

Even Scotrail and Arriva Wales, which arguably have more rural networks than Northern, only have passenger subsidies of 18p a mile.

See also

Yorkshire Post: Yorkshire rail commuters face new parking charges (25 Feb 2014)