Author Topic: Stagecoach says Cambridgeshire Park & Ride parking charges have cost it £500,000  (Read 1536 times)

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Stagecoach says Cambridgeshire Park and Ride parking charges have cost it £500,000

Passengers queue to pay the new parking charges which came into force at St Ives this week

Bus firm Stagecoach has lost £500,000 since the £1 parking charges were introduced at Cambridge park and ride sites.

Passengers have been abandoning the service and boss Andy Campbell fears the cut in numbers will continue with the introduction of parking fees at the St Ives and Longstanton sites which are pick-up points for the guided busway.

Mr Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach East, said the firm had lost 13.9 per cent of its park and ride business since the charges came into effect last year.

"I would estimate that this has cost us half a million pounds. If it continues we will have to look at ways to try to reduce the cost of the service," he said

Mr Campbell said the impact of the £1 charge at St Ives and Longstanton was likely to be lower than at the Cambridge sites, but he was concerned that there would be a negative effect.

Passengers at St Ives were paying the additional charge grudgingly yesterday on the first day of charges, but some were planning to go back to their cars.

Mr Campbell said he understood why Cambridgeshire County Council had introduced the charge, but felt it went against the principle of park and ride which kept traffic out of congested Cambridge.

He said: "When we agreed to use the busway and committed ourselves for 10 years, nobody said anything about charging people to park."

Pat Taylor, from Alconbury, said: "I am not very happy with it. It mounts up by the end of the week. I am going to work and it works out quite expensive but you have to pay it."

A passenger who did not want to be named blamed the council, saying: "They are already charging the bus company £11 every time a bus goes along here. They are having their cake and eating it and then going back for another slice."

Another passenger who also did not want to be named, said: "I can understand why they are doing it, but it is against the principle of park and ride."

Melissa Janes said: "I was angry at having to pay more to get on the bus. It will add £5 a week to the £24.50 ticket."

Tony and Jennifer Poyser, who live near Ramsey, were shopping in Cambridge using a senior citizen ticket. They said the £1 charge was reasonable compared to a normal car park, but Mr Poyser said it was a different story for commuters.

"It is an extra £20 a month which doesn't seem right," he said. "I know the council is short of money but it is not the operator's fault, it is down to politics."

Nurses Amanda Dawson and Karen McAulay said the extra £1 made the use of a car more viable.

Millie Scott, 17, a student at Long Road Sixth Form College, said: "I am already paying £24 a week and this is another £5 a week. I only work part-time."

Rachel Donnelly said: "I think we are paying enough anyway."

She said the buses were always full and she often found herself having to stand, which meant the extra charge would make the use of a car more attractive.

But Anne Bidwell, 78, from Bluntisham, who uses a senior citizen card and gets her husband to drop her off for her weekly trip to Cambridge, said: "It costs less than it would to park in Cambridge. A pound is only about half a cup of coffee."

A spokesman for the county council said they had to make a further £30 million in savings this year.

Joseph Whelan, head of passenger transport at the council, said: "In an ideal world we would not charge. But every year the council has to find an extra £1 million to look after the Cambridge sites as well as making millions of savings while protecting frontline services."


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