Ipswich park and ride set for relaunch to save service

Ipswich Park and Ride. Martlesham.

Ipswich Park and Ride. Martlesham. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ipswich’s park and ride service is likely to get a major relaunch later this year in a bid to cut its subsidy and reverse a long-term drop in user numbers.

The number of passengers using the service has fallen by two thirds over the last eight years – leading to the current debate over its future.

But officials at the county council are increasingly confident that the two remaining park and ride centres, at Copdock Mill and Martlesham Heath, will be able to stay open with a radically-different operating model.

Details of a proposed deal are expected to be revealed later in the spring, but the council is keen to reduce the current subsidy of £3.27 per passenger using the service.

County council cabinet member for transport James Finch said the number of passengers using the service per week was currently about 5,000 – although this had gone up during the run-up to Christmas.

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Between 2007 and 2009 the number of passengers using the service (not the number of cars) had averaged about 15,000 a week with spikes of up to 30,000 a week in Decembers of those years.

Mr Finch said: “We are now subsidising every passenger using the service to the tune of £3.27 and we cannot continue at that level. We have to find the best possible use for public money and that means looking at ways of cutting this subsidy.”

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The council is talking to current park and ride operator Ipswich Buses and other bus operators about changing the way the service is run to allow both the car parks to remain open but cutting the cost to the council taxpayer.

Mr Finch said he was “increasingly confident” that a deal would be agreed which could be announced once the new financial year has started in April.

The council has been in talks with its partners on the Ipswich Vision board and with Ipswich Hospital, which is on the park and ride route from Martlesham Heath, to try to find an agreement about a new way to operate the service – and attract new business in the future.

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