Park and ride centres stay open – but costs are set to be slashed

Ipswich Park and Ride. Martlesham.

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

Ipswich’s two remaining park and ride sites are to remain open after Suffolk County Council reached a deal with two bus companies to change the way the service is operated.

The single park and ride service linking the park at Copdock Mill with that at Martlesham Heath via the town centre and Ipswich Hospital will be scrapped.

Instead the two services will be run as separate operations in a bid to save most of the £700,000 a year it costs to run the service.

Ipswich Buses will absorb the Copdock Mill service, based on the park next to the Tesco superstore, with its Route 13 service through the Chantry estate to the town centre.

And the Martlesham Heath park and ride service will be taken over by First Group, which already operates the Superoute 66 service to Kesgrave and Martlesham.

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for Transport James Finch said the change would mean longer journey times as the buses will no longer go non-stop to the town centre or hospital.

But there will be more buses so users will not have to wait so long before getting on to the bus.

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Mr Finch said: “At the moment we run every 12 minutes from Copdock (five buses an hour). What we are talking about with Ipswich Buses is running nine buses an hour.

“The journey may take a bit longer, but many people won’t have to wait as long for a bus. Overall there should not be any difference for travellers.”

At present bus passengers in the Chantry area of Ipswich also have five Route 13 bus services an hour – so they will also see a increased frequency. Service patterns to Martlesham still have to be agreed.

The principle of the changes will be discussed by the county’s cabinet next week. There will then need to be formal talks with the bus companies and six-months notice will need to be given before the changes can be brought in.

The earliest the changes can be brought in is during the early months of 2017. There still have to be decisions made about the future ownership of the parks themselves.

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