After deciding – once again – to cut a public transport subsidy, SCC’s Conservative administration have decided to honour their commitment to Park and Ride services by trying to make the Ipswich Park & Ride self-supporting!
The dream is to get the bus companies that operate alongside it to take over P&R services: Ipswich buses at the London Road end and First at the Martlesham end. (Many of us have used this system for years. It is called “catching a bus”).
The buildings in the carparks will no longer be ticket offices but will be offered to retail companies.
At the London Road End this plan seems comparatively simple: the 13 bus runs along the same route and Park & Ride tickets can already be used on it out of hours. There are, however, problems for users to the east. I was told, as LibDem Transport Spokesperson, that the 64 & 65 are the services which will become Park and Ride buses at Martlesham. However the Labour spokesperson has been told it would definitely be the 66. Asking the Cabinet Member for disambiguation, he had no idea whatsoever. We now hear it hasn’t been decided. The choice is important: neither service is ideal: the 66 service is slow and goes round a lot of houses. The 64/65 start out as far as Aldeburgh and Leiston and can often get deleayed.
In all, I am not sure how successfully this scheme will work, or whether it is a fudge to extend the operation beyond the forthcoming elections cobbled together by an administration which does not personally use buses.
Suffolk residents need the park& ride to help deal with the increasing congestion in Ipswich. The administration requires it to be income generating. Of course, there is no reason why it should not be both if properly run. This administration has never shown much sign of wishing to run it properly.
The best way to make the P&R more income-generating would be to make it more responsive to demand and that would be to provide a speedy service for commuters to reduce the morning rush hour. This our local buses do not do.
At the moment I cannot see any very compelling reason why people should now drive to the P&R from Woodbridge rather than getting on the same bus in Woodbridge – especially as they will be able to use their bus passes in Woodbridge but will pay to sit on the same bus if they board it at the Park & Ride!
We will wait and see as more details emerge.