Norwich park-and-ride users face higher fares and fewer buses as part of cuts package
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 February 2011
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Passengers using most of Norwich’s park-and-ride sites will see services starting later and finishing earlier while ticket prices are to go up by 15pc as part of a package of cost-cutting measures.
"We calculate the proposals, combined with some site management changes, will save us over £1m a year and we believe will continue to offer the public very good value for money."
Norfolk County Council has unveiled a package of changes to services which will see services running every 15 minutes instead of every 10 minutes.
But from April the first morning bus will depart at 7am, 20 minutes later than now, at all sites except Thickthorn and Norwich International Airport.
And the last evening buses from the city centre will leave an hour earlier at 6.30pm, with the exception of Thickthorn.
The two least sites, Costessey and Postwick, will also no longer operate on Saturdays and concessionary bus users will also be charged a £1 for a return trip.
The changes, which also include closing the waiting areas, toilets on site, and site offices, and scaling back on maintenance work, are likely to affect the jobs of 16 staff employed by the council’s commercial offshoot Norse, which runs the service.
The council says it has no choice but to make changes as it seeks to wipe out a £2m subsidy to keep the six sites going as part of a package of cuts to save £155m in the next three years.
But John Woods, spokesman for Norfolk Buswatch, said he was worried that some passengers could be caught out by the changes and may be tempted to switch to their cars if they can no longer get to and from work.
And he said he would like the council to look at areas where park-and-ride routes duplicate with some commercial routes to see if more stops could be added.
“It could disadvantage people who have learned to rely on them,” Mr Woods said. “We are very disappointed about that.
“They do duplicate to a certain extent, and you often see the park-and-ride buses going in and out empty, while the normal bus routes are running less frequently with older buses” he added. “All in all the bus services in Norwich are very disjointed.”
Graham Plant, cabinet member for travel and transport, said: “Council taxpayers are currently subsidising the Norwich park-and-ride sites to the tune of more than £2m a year and in the light of the need to save something like £155m of savings over three years we have had no choice but to review the situation.
“I’m very pleased to say that we will be able to continue to operate all six park-and-ride sites, but that from April there will be a slight reduction in the frequency of services and some services will start a little later and finish a little earlier than at present. At Thickthorn, which is our busiest site, buses will depart at 6.40am and continue to operate until 7.30pm.
“We calculate the proposals, combined with some site management changes, will save us over £1m a year and we believe will continue to offer the public very good value for money. We will also be raising fares by around 15pc and introducing a small charge for concession pass holders who have previously travelled for free. The spirit of the concession pass is for use on local bus services, not park-and-ride which is clearly for car owners, so we are following the Government’s explicit guidance on this.
“We would stress that we will continue to offer a substantial park and ride service in the future, and that our park and ride network is still the biggest in England. I feel the package we are proposing is sensible in the light of the cuts in spending which we face.”
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