A £1.4 million transformation of the Ellon park-and-ride facility has finally finished after years of work.
Aberdeenshire Council first launched its efforts to expand the park and ride way back in 2012 to encourage more people to use public transport.
And now, 10 years later, the site — which first opened to customers in the year 2000 — has been completely modernised.
Specialist up-to-date travel information is now displayed on digital bus stop flags, and new bus shelters have been introduced with solar-powered LED lights.
The first stage of the overhaul of the facility was completed in 2014, but it has faced repeated delays due to issues over land ownership, water mains, and Covid.
What all does the new Ellon Park and Ride feature?
As well as providing real-time travel updates, the digital bus stop flags use LED hardware to make sure they can be read clearly in both direct sunlight and at night.
There are also information displays which use Papercast technology, which “use no power at all to display an image and only a little power to change an image” according to the council.
Aberdeenshire Council has also installed long-life batteries to make sure screens can keep showing vital information even during power outages.
The park and ride’s new bus shelters have vegetation planted on their roofs to capture “airborne contaminants or windblown particles and prevent them from being dispelled through water running from the roof”, helping keep the air clean for passengers in the area.
How many people actually use Ellon Park and Ride?
The facility is one of the most popular of its kind in the north-east.
The number of passengers using it has slowly grown over the years, from just under 12,000 for all of the year 2002, up to heights of more than 66,000 in 2019.
In total, more than 675,000 people have used Ellon Park and Ride so far according to Aberdeenshire Council.
Although there was a recent severe impact on passenger numbers as a result of Covid restrictions on public transport and lockdown measures preventing travel, usage is showing signs of recovery.
Between and including January and August this year, there were just under 11,000 journeys recorded.
The council could only provide data for a few months of 2013, and no data for 2014 and 2015.
‘Absolutely no doubt’ Aberdeenshire is leading way in park and ride as a transport option, says councillor
Councillor Iain Taylor, chairman of the local authority’s Formartine area committee, said he finds the new green technology at the Ellon Park and Ride “hugely impressive”.
He continued: “There is absolutely no doubt that though our close partnership working with Nestrans and Stagecoach, Aberdeenshire continues to lead the way in developing and promoting park and ride as an effective and affordable transport option, enabling passengers to combine car, bus and rail journeys”.
His sentiments were echoed by fellow Aberdeenshire councillor John Crawley, chairman of the local authority’s infrastructure committee, as well as the regional transport body Nestrans.
Mr Crawley said the facility is “helping to cut congestion and emissions”, and said facilities like the park and ride in Ellon that are “convenient, accessible and well-serviced” will be a key to “encourage mode shift and reduce single car occupancy”.
He continued: “The extension to the site has been in the planning and construction stage for some time now, and so it is good to see it open for users.”
Stagecoach says Ellon site is most popular in the north-east
Peter Knight, managing director at Stagecoach Bluebird, said it’s “fantastic to see these developments”, and said they will “make travelling by bus even easier”.
“The facility in Ellon has been our most popular park-and-ride site in the north-east of Scotland for almost 10 years, and we look forward to welcoming even more passengers on board our frequent services to Aberdeen from the park and ride”.