Park and ride still below target

A CONTROVERSIAL multi-million pound park and ride scheme is still failing to attract the predicted number of passengers two years after it was first opened.

A CONTROVERSIAL multi-million pound park and ride scheme is still failing to attract the predicted number of passengers two years after it was first opened.

The site, opposite the Suffolk police headquarters in Martlesham, was used by 70,080 cars between November 2004 and November 2005 - 42,320 less than was forecast and the equivalent of 227,000 single passenger journeys.

The current lower usage is reflected in less fares revenue than predicted - £203,000 against a budgeted £269,000 - but net running costs of £177,000 are below the predicted figure of £279,000.

The park and ride, which is run by Suffolk County Council, opened in November 2003 and cost £3million including a £500,000 over spend for extra construction and archaeological work.

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It was the third park and ride to open in the Ipswich area, with others already in operation at Bury Road and Copdock.

It aimed to attract 103,700 cars in the first 12 months but failed to realise even half that number with just 50,000 cars using the service in 2003/04.

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Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for roads and transport, said he was content with the progress which had been made in the last year.

“Usage is growing almost twice as fast as predicted,” he said. “We had 20,000 extra cars this year against a forecast of 10,000 so I am pleased with the way things are going.

“It certainly shows that things are moving in the right direction but we are aware that more can be done and in terms of council strategy we are hoping to improve the usefulness of the facility.

“For example we are putting on extra services for Christmas shoppers and, although there are budget constraints to consider, we are floating around a number of ideas which we are hoping to roll out in the future.”

Mr McGregor said the council was looking at introducing a sponsorship scheme for visitors to the Wolsey Theatre where they could pay an extra £2 for their show ticket and then take the park and ride to and from the town centre for the production.

He also said there was a possibility of combining fares so that passengers who bought a ticket at one park and ride site would then be able to travel on any of the three services.

He continued: “It is about making the park and ride scheme better for the people of Ipswich. We want more people to use it because then they will be attracted to the town and spend more money which is beneficial to everyone in the community.”

However Veronica Read, spokeswoman for Kesgrave Town Council, said she continued to have concerns about the park and ride scheme and was not surprised it was still failing to attract users.

She said one of the problems was too few bus lanes.

“As a town council Kesgrave has never supported the scheme. It causes more problems than it solves and does nothing beneficial for the people who live here,” she said.

“The buses are large and therefore take up more room causing traffic to bottleneck - especially at roundabouts. The problem is that the buses leave every 10 or 15 minutes but sometimes with only a few passengers so it really doesn't seem worth it - you just get more and more buses clogging everything up.”

For details of the extra services on offer during the festive period visit

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