Park and Ride the Dutch way
Getting off the motorway at Eindhoven is the first challenge, the city’s motorway box which doubled as a ring road has been upgraded to two parallel routes with the only access from the motorway to the ring road at the points where radial motorways join. Local and through traffic is effectively segregated but miss the motorway junction and it is a long way to the next opportunity.
Once on the ring road, the Park and Ride site is quite well signposted until the final approach road. This gave the impression of being in a provisional condition for some years but eventually the entrance barriers to the car park came into view. These are equipped with number plate recognition technology and the ticket issued had the vehicle registration plate printed on it. It appeared to have no problem with a UK plate and presumably, on leaving, the barriers would only open if the numbers on the card and vehicle matched.
The parking area was spacious with very few spaces occupied so it would not have been difficult to find a space close to the main building even if I did not have a disabled colleague with me. The car park has a stepped tariff depending on length of stay and there is a separate charge of 50cent per person return for the bus to the city centre. Two transactions were therefore required at the on site machine and both had to be with a card as no cash option existed.
The site’s building houses a small café and pay toilets, it wasn’t very busy which probably had something to do with there being a large McDonalds on the opposite side of the road where the toilets were free.
One of the main roads into Eindhoven runs adjacent to the site and the Phileas bus service runs in the central median strip, inbound involves crossing one carriageway from the car park. The return stop is less customer friendly, being situated on the far side of a crossroads after the bus leaves the median strip, so two carriageways and a side road to cross. There is no local road access to the Park and Ride.
Several routes serve the site, primarily the 401/2 on which the Phileas vehicles operate although they are interspersed with a batch of MAN Lion’s City artics. These were left to pass whilst waiting for a Phileas vehicle. Finally one arrived, boarding is required at the front and the driver checks the park and ride ticket to ensure that the correct number of people have been paid for – not easy from the forward high driving position of the Phileas.
The ride into Eindhoven was smooth, mainly on segregated busway through former industrial areas that are being regenerated and past the new PSV Stadium. There is a stop on the very edge of the central shopping area before the route disappears to the opposite side of the railway line and proceeds to its terminus on the north side of Eindhoven station. Here there is a traditional Dutch bus station with single vehicle lanes alongside the loading islands and passengers streaming across the bus departure area to reach the railway station and subway to the city centre.
Another Phileas provided the journey back to the Park and Ride. Despite being nearly ten years old, it rode well and made good progress on the segregated roadways. Loadings on both Phileas vehicles travelled on were good, with many luggage laden passengers from Eindhoven airport. Perhaps they could be even better if the Park and Ride was easier to access and less complicated to use.
By David Cole