Park-and-ride not hitting targets
By Richard SmithEMPTY buses are still using the route between the Martlesham park-and-ride site and Ipswich town centre a year after the scheme was launched.
By Richard Smith
EMPTY buses are still using the route between the Martlesham park-and-ride site and Ipswich town centre a year after the scheme was launched.
In one hour yesterday morning six consecutive buses came back without any passengers from the stops in Ipswich to the site off the A12/A1214 roundabout.
The buses turned up every 12 minutes from 10am to 11am without any passengers, during a survey conducted by the East Anglian Daily Times.
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In a three-hour period outside the rush-hours 31 buses were counted,16 going in to Ipswich and 15 coming back.
A total of 191 people, mainly pensioners on half-price tickets, travelled into town, giving an average of 12 people on the single-decker buses. Each bus can take 41 seated and 21 standing passengers.
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Bus drivers on the round-trips were also faced with empty stops in Ipswich - only 43 passengers used 15 buses in three hours, giving an average of less than three people on a bus.
Suffolk County Council is embarking on another publicity and marketing campaign to increase public awareness of the Martlesham site.
On Sunday there will be a free service to mark the switch-on of Christmas lights in Ipswich, but this initiative, designed to encourage people to use the park-and-ride scheme, will cost the county council £5,650.
Park-and-ride will also remain open until late evening on Thursdays in December for shoppers and the service will also be provided on Sundays before Christmas.
Raymond and Shirley Horrex drove a few hundred yards from their home in Martlesham to use the park-and-ride to go Christmas shopping yesterday and they praised the scheme.
“We like to use the service when we go shopping in Ipswich, although normally we shop in Felixstowe,” they said.
“We are fully in agreement with park-and-ride, but it is the most expensive of all of them we have tried. Our daughter-in-law comes from Felixstowe to Martlesham to use the service.”
Elizabeth Palmer, from Woodbridge, added: “We think the service is brilliant. The drop-off points are very convenient and they are super for the shops.”
But a year after the park-and-ride service was introduced it has still not attracted enough customers - 50,000 cars, fewer than half of the county council's prediction, parked at Martlesham in the first 12 months and the service is costing £500,000-a-year to run.
PARK-AND-RIDE SURVEY RESULTS.
November 17, into Ipswich:
9.53am: 18 passengers
November 17, returning from Ipswich: