Cutting park and ride will add congestion, but we can justify it says council (From Evesham Journal)
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Cutting park and ride will add congestion, but we can justify it says council
A SENIOR transport boss at Worcestershire County Council has admitted scrapping park and ride WILL increase congestion - but insists it is a price worth paying.
Peter Blake, who has been in charge of integrated transport at County Hall, says closing sites at Perdiswell and Sixways will add more cars to the roads but believes it won't be "significant".
He also believes part dualling the A4440 Southern Link Road - which is due to be complete by 2019 - will do far more than either park and ride could to ease traffic.
His comments come amid fresh criticism from the former Labour leadership at Worcester City Council, which has labelled the cutbacks "terrible".
Mr Blake has also refused to rule out park and ride returning to Worcester at some point in the future - but insists the onus will be on commercial providers to show some commitment to it.
"At the Perdiswell service, parking there is declining and has been for some time," he said.
"You could reduce the service and it would cost us less, but those passenger numbers would only continue to decline.
"We certainly don't sit here with a magic bullet (for dealing with congestion), bus usage is falling nationally, outside of London it's dropped remarkably.
"At the moment 200 cars a day use Perdiswell but that Barbourne corridor alone takes 23,000 vehicles daily.
"One in five cars travel through the city centre because they perceive it to be less congested than the Southern Link Road.
"I don't think you can answer the congestion issue by just looking at public transport - you need to look at highways and we're on site at the southern link now, which is used by over 30,000 vehicles a day.
"Cutting public transport will have an impact, but I'd question whether that impact is significant."
His comments come as Councillor Adrian Gregson, the former Labour city council leader, called the move "backwards".
"We need a long-term vision for easing congestion and this goes completely against that," he said.
"We are just lurching from one year to the next, we know this will increase congestion yet it's still going ahead."
As your Worcester News revealed last week, both park and rides are scheduled to close in September as part of a county council plan to cut £1.6 million from public transport.
The loss-making sites cost taxpayers £296,870 last year and have declined in popularity for several years.
The Perdiswell park and ride was used more than 450,000 times in 2008 but last year it reached a record low of 274,935.
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