Uncertain future for town’s park and ride

IPSWICH: Big changes could be made to the town’s park and ride service in the new year, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The contract to run dedicated park and ride buses from parks at Bury Road, London Road, and Martlesham is currently held by First Group and is due to run until 2013.

The Star revealed earlier in the summer that the county council, under pressure to spend much less, may look at the future of the park and ride.

Now county councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor has confirmed that the service is likely to come under the microscope – but not until after the Christmas and sales period.

He said: “We do have a contract that runs until 2013 but it is possible to change that before then and we will have to take a long hard look at this.

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“We are aware that park and ride buses do duplicate normal services on all the routes and we will have to consider whether we really get value for money.”

Mr McGregor said he was aware that the town’s park and ride service offered very high quality with dedicated buses running every ten to 12 minutes.

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But he admitted the development of an increasing number of cheap spaces in temporary car parks in the town had made the service less attractive.

He said: “We would look at a number of ways of reducing the costs of the service – possibly integrating some of the services with normal routes.”

The county was keen to retain the current level of service over the next few months when Christmas shopping will pick up and hopefully see busier buses.

Former Labour county council leader Bryony Rudkin, who was at the helm when the Bury Road and Martlesham services were introduced, warned against making major changes.

She said: “Our aim was to provide a high-quality bus experience to encourage people to use the bus. It was important that the park and ride services were easily identified because they would be used by people from outside the town who would not be familiar with bus services around Ipswich.

“Any attempt to merge them with existing services would be a backward step.”

n Is park and ride worthwhile? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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