Madness at Ashton Gate!

Ashton Park and Ride and Ashton Gate stadium traffic.

These are my views on the ridiculous fact that the Ashton Park and Ride is often closed when football and rugby matches are taking place. For example, this happened at the recent high profile match with West Ham when the Park and Ride (with 1500 empty parking spaces) was closed at the same time as hundreds of cars were cruising around Southville and Ashton looking for parking spaces. The entrance looked like this. Mad!

closed gates

The context to this is that:

  • Currently the capacity of Ashton Gate is around 13,000 because of the current building works and many games are sold out.
  • A refurbished Aston Gate will have a planned maximum capacity of 27,000 when it is completed in 2016/17 i.e. nearly twice the current capacity and so potentially twice as many cars.
  • Bristol Rugby have been playing at Ashton Gate since the start of this season which has greatly increased the number of days where extra traffic has needed to park in the area.
  • Both the football and rugby teams have a good chance of promotion to the Championship and Premiership respectively which would lead to significantly more sold-out matches.
  • There is a serious problem for residents in the area during match-days. Residents right through Southville and Ashton feel ‘under siege’ at these periods.
  • The proposed hours of the RPS in Southville will not help the situation, as it does not apply during any of the match times for either the rugby or the football (despite representations made by local residents).
  • The timing of the home games for the rugby and football this season has been:
    • 14 Saturday afternoons (generally 15.00)
    • 13 Sunday afternoons
    • 8 Tuesday evenings (generally 19.45)
    • 7 Friday evenings
    • 1 Wednesday evening
    • 1 Friday evening
    • 1 Thursday daytime (New years Day)
  • The Park and Ride has a capacity of 1,500 cars and currently opens from 06.15 until about 21.00 Monday to Friday and 07.30 until about 19.00 on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
  • This means that it is effectively not available for 30 out of the 45 home matches (partly because it closes too early to be useful for the evening matches).
  • It is also completely closed for the 13 Sunday matches.
  • Passenger usage is showing a small decline. The latest full year figures show a reduction in usage of 1.35% from 2012/13 to 2013/14 which suggests that there is spare capacity at the site.
  • The Park and Ride receive a public subsidy from City Council funds and therefore should be responsive to public needs.

My suggestions are that:

  1. The Park and Ride hours be extended to 22.00 on the date of evening kick-offs.
  2. Match day traffic be allowed to park there for a fixed fee.
    1. They would not need to use the bus service from the park and ride as it is a short walk to the ground.
    2. I recognise that this could be a problem on Saturday afternoons because of capacity issues but on other occasions my visual inspection suggests there would be spare capacity.
  3. The Park and Ride should be opened for Sunday matches from say midday, and drivers be allowed to park there for a fixed fee.

The advantages of this proposal are that it helps the local residents, it generates extra money from the Park and Ride and it starts to address the huge extra parking issues which will happen when the stadium redevelopment is complete.

I also really support the efforts to get Ashton Gate station open which seems a complete no-brainer to me.

Stephen Clarke.

Green Party Candidate for Southville in May’s local election. 29/1/15