Portsmouth’s park and ride could be extended for daily commuters

NOT BUSY Portsmouth's park and ride could open in the week
NOT BUSY Portsmouth's park and ride could open in the week

Morning weather and travel: Bleak start to the day

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COMMUTERS could be asked to park and ride to get into Portsmouth every day under new plans by the city council.

The city’s current scheme is only available on Saturdays and public holidays – and only runs at 20 to 25 per cent of its capacity.

Despite this, transport chiefs hope a midweek commuters’ scheme may help cut congestion and pollution.

It is now consulting with businesses to see if there’s a need.

Simon Moon, the council’s head of transport, said: ‘We’re doing an informal survey to see if there would be any initial interest from commuters in using a park and ride during the week. We’re also asking if they have any feedback on what would encourage them to use it. The information will help us decide whether to pursue the idea.’

The council launched its Saturday scheme, in which buses run between the Lakeside car park and the city centre between 9am and 6pm, in April 2009.

People pay £2.50 per car to park at the site, and can travel to Edinburgh Road or The Hard.

But despite a rise in user numbers – from 128 per week on average in July 2009 to July 2010, to 146 per week in the last 12 months – figures are well below the capacity of 400, or even the council’s target of 300, each week.

And on May 30 this year, just 37 cars – roughly four per hour – used the service. Numbers increased in January this year, reaching 232, which the council’s transport team believes was the result of improved advertising.

Preliminary consultation on the midweek plan, which would run between 7am and 7pm from Monday to Friday, also at a cost of £2.50 per car, will end on Friday.

The scheme has already won support from the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

Its director of operations, Maureen Frost, said: ‘We’d definitely welcome this scheme. The cost of parking in the city is increasing, and will soon be unaffordable for many workers, so this is a good alternative. We hope it’ll also reduce congestion in the city, improving the environment for everyone.’

To take part in the consultation, visit surveymonkey.com/s/7LVQ7NJ.