First enduring Park & Ride bus scheme in the UK, launched in 1973

Redbridge Park & Ride, Abingdon Road, Oxford

Redbridge Park & Ride car park with dedicated bus service opened in December 1973. There had been earlier experiments in Oxford itself and in Nottingham and Leicester but the Redbridge P&R was the first in the UK to be successfully sustained from its inception until the present day. It represents a landmark in thinking on traffic management both locally and nationally. The scheme rapidly expanded to comprise five sites on the perimeter of Oxford and became a model for other cities, notably Nottingham, Leicester, York, Norwich, and Cambridge.

Redbridge Park & Ride

For many decades up to the 1960s Oxford planned to solve its traffic congestion problems by building new roads. Citizen groups had campaigned successfully against the notorious plan to build an inner relief road through Christ Church Meadow. As scheme after scheme was eventually rejected, Oxford reacted to changes in the national mood by thinking about ways to restrict car use in the city centre. Oxford Civic Society’s first publication, Let’s Live in Oxford, strongly advocated a completely different strategy. The Balanced Transport Policy was born. Park & Ride was one of the key suggestions along with bus lanes and other measures.

The first attempt at Park & Ride in Oxford was a temporary service from November 1964 to August 1965 at Fortes Motor Lodge to the north of the city where there was a ready-made parking facility. This was followed by the service starting at Redbridge (where Oxford City Council owned land suitable for a permanent car park) in December 1973. The Oxford bus scheme was the first enduring initiative of its kind in the UK. Leicester and Nottingham had earlier experimented with the idea but had not been able to sustain a scheme. (NB a Park & Ride railway station had been built at New Pudsey to serve Leeds and Bradford as early as 1967 but Oxford’s was the first bus-related scheme.)

Park & Ride in 1973Redbridge Park & Ride in December 1973, © Picture Oxon

The five Park & Ride car parks which now serve the city are: Redbridge (1973), Peartree (1976), Seacourt 1974), Thornhill (1985), and Oxford Parkway, formerly named Water Eaton (2002). These are linked up by bus services 300 (north–south), 500 (north–south), and 400 (east–west). There are currently (2019) 5,300 parking spaces. Oxford Parkway now links with the rail service to London Marylebone.

This Blue Plaque proposal came from Oxford Civic Society which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 and is especially proud of its advocacy of Park & Ride in the early years.


  • N. P. Holdstock (1973), Park & Ride: A Solution to the Urban Passenger Transport Problem
  • K. M. Fletcher (1981), Park and Ride: The Oxford Experience
  • Phil Ashworth (2006), Oxford Bus Company, the first 125 years

The plaque was unveiled at Redbridge Park & Ride by Cllr Craig Simmons, Lord Mayor of Oxford, on 1 November 2019. The speakers were Peter Headicar (former Reader in Transport, Oxford Brookes University) and Phil Southall (Managing Director of the Oxford Bus Company). Among those attending were Cllr Alex Hollingsworth (Oxford City Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport), other councillors, and members of Oxford Civic Society.

Pictures taken at the unveiling ceremony:


Speech given by Peter Headicar at the ceremony (PDF)


Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board


The first enduring P & R
bus scheme in the UK and
model for other cities
was launched here
at Redbridge in
December 1973

Oxford Civic Society

© Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board


Email: oxfordshireblueplaques@gmail.com