8:16am Thursday 2nd January 2014
By Tom Edwards
A COME-and-get-us plea has been issued for Worcester’s threatened park and ride sites – even if it means operators running a worse service.
The Conservative politician in charge of Worcestershire’s public transport says the door is still open for potential operators to run the city’s two park and rides at Perdiswell and Sixways.
Councillor John Smith said they are still “up for grabs” and less frequent journeys would be preferable to none at all.
Both services cost taxpayers about £250,000 a year to run, and Worcestershire County Council is preparing to scrap the subsidy by September to save cash.
The Perdiswell park and ride costs 68p a journey, while the Sixways one is subsidised to the tune of £1.66 a trip.
The cuts form part of a yearly £3 million subsidy for public transport which is due to end, leading to heavy criticism from the public and transport campaign groups.
Coun Smith, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “We need to make the park and ride services viable, even if it means a different service being offered compared with now.
“It might mean fewer journeys during the day, but the same service in the morning, for example.
“We don’t want it to go, but it’s got to be viable and must be run on a commercial basis.
“The consultation is ongoing and I know there’s been a good response, but the whole thing is very much up for grabs.”
A report for the Conservative cabinet is due out around February and it will update them on the talks with operators.
Use of the Perdiswell site in Droitwich Road peaked in 2008/09 when 450,783 trips were made on it in a year, but it has fallen to 332,165.
At Sixways, which primarily serves Worcestershire Royal Hospital, just 63,956 journeys were made last year.
The decline in popularity led to the council revealing in September that no more park and rides would be built around the city under the current leadership.
The £3 million public transport subsidy includes 88 bus services on 43 routes, including swathes of evening and weekends pick-ups.
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