Park and ride could open in winter 2014

editorial image

Bicester’s new park-and-ride service to and from Oxford could be open in time for next year’s Christmas shopping, it was revealed last week.

The proposed service between Bicester and Oxford would be based on the south side of Bicester, between the A41 and the new Kingsmere estate.

It is hoped the 500-space facility, which would be the county’s first park-and-ride site outside the immediate Oxford area, will be open by Christmas 2014.

A planning application is due to be decided by Oxfordshire County Council’s Planning and Regulations Committee next month.

Councillor Michael Waine, of Oxfordshire County Council’s Bicester Town division, said the scheme could bring two main benefits.

He said: “Firstly, the money will come from a Section 106 agreement over Bicester Village’s expansion into the Tesco site, and it will help alleviate congestion at peak times.

“The other aim is that it will relieve congestion on the A34 between Bicester and Oxford through greater bus use.”

The park-and-ride will not charge for parking when it opens, and it is expected there will be two bus services – a seven-days-a-week Oxford to Bicester service, and a shuttle bus to Bicester Village on weekends, as well as bank holidays and other special days.

The Oxford to Bicester park-and-ride will make use of Stagecoach’s S5 service.

Project costs have not yet been finalised, but Oxfordshire County Council says the park-and-ride service would be funded by Bicester Village.

The idea of a park-and-ride service in Bicester was raised several years ago as a way to help cope with the large volume of visitors heading to Bicester Village, especially around Christmas and New Year.

The move is designed to improve the flow of traffic and cut congestion, making life easier both for Bicester residents and shoppers visiting Bicester Village.

A new road layout to be created around the entrance to Bicester Village should also help ease any traffic problems at peak shopping times.

Ben Jackson, president of the Bicester and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “I think in theory it should be a good thing for the town.

“It’s one of those things that’s quite difficult to judge, but it will certainly relieve some of the traffic challenges at peak times.”

He said he did not think the park-and-ride service would draw customers away from businesses in Bicester town centre.