PORTSMOUTH’S new £28m park-and-ride scheme is expected to run at a loss in its first two years of operation, The News can reveal.
It’s believed Portsmouth City Council will spend £500,000 subsidising the scheme during this period once it opens in spring next year – but it should break even after that.
The cash would cover the running costs of the site, off the M275 southbound Tipner sliproad, which will include a single-storey passenger waiting area, turning bays for buses and a car park with more than 660 parking spaces.
It would also cover the cost of funding the main bus route that will go to The Hard via the city centre.
Up to £350,000 would be used in the first year and £150,000 the year after and all the money would come from the council’s parking reserve, which is made up of £1.3m in total. The money is generated from parking tickets and fines. It’s unknown how much profit the scheme is expected to make yet.
Cllr Jason Fazackarley, cabinet member for traffic and transport, said it normally takes a while for park-and-ride schemes to get off the ground.
‘All park-and-ride schemes take time to break even,’ he said.
‘There is always going to be slack at the start until you start getting everyone to use it. The principle of having to help pay for the park-and-ride scheme during its first two years is good when you think of the huge redevelopment of the area.
‘This scheme has helped a site which for years has been an eyesore.
‘The long-term plan is to make this a sustainable park-and-ride scheme.’
Operation of the bus route has been out for tender and the council’s cabinet will decide at a meeting on Monday, October 7, which company should get the contract. Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy Conservative group leader, fears the council could close car parks in the city centre to ensure people use the park and ride.
‘The council doesn’t want to have a white elephant car park along the M275,’ he said.
‘In order to get people to use it it’s likely that the council will sell off other car parks and increase the cost of car parking. Many people who live in the south and east of the city wouldn’t use it because they would have to travel north in order to get back into the city.’
The park and ride will be linked to Tipner Interchange, a roundabout going under the motorway, and connect the park and ride to the M275. The council has spent £8m on the project and the rest has come from the Department for Transport.
Portsmouth City Council said it wouldn’t confirm whether the park and ride scheme would be subsidised, and said figures couldn’t be discussed while the contract to run the buses was still out for tender.
Pam Turton, the council’s assistant head of service for transport and environment, said: ‘The procurement process for appointment of the operator is not yet complete and the award of the contract is subject to a structured process laid down by EU regulations.
‘Until this process has been completed we cannot divulge the running costs.
As previously reported, there will be four sliproads northbound and southbound which will run to and from the new interchange junction. Fifty workers are involved in the construction with another 15 to 20 office-based staff on site.
The scheme is one of the key elements of a £130m project to regenerate Tipner, with plans for 1,600 new homes, business space to support 1,500 new jobs, and a hotel.