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Park and ride axe leaves us 'stuffed', say public transport users
ANGRY park and ride users in Worcester say they have been left “furious” after plans to scrap the services were revealed - and are pleading with council chiefs to change their minds.
Commuters using the Perdiswell park and ride say a controversial move to axe the site from September will increase congestion and leave many of them stranded.
Your Worcester News can also reveal how drivers at the site have launched a petition which already runs to 16 pages of signatures, pleading for an “11th-hour reprieve”.
As your Worcester News revealed last week, the council will close the site from September as part of a plan to cut £1.6 million from public transport.
Wayne Johnson, 20, of Claines, uses it daily to commute into Worcester to work at a retail store.
He said: “When I heard about it my jaw hit the floor – it doesn’t make any sense at all.
“I don’t drive and this is the only service which I can rely on to get me into town and back regularly, the 144 isn’t good enough (another bus heading in the same direction).
“The council say they’re short of money but if you can’t make this a priority I give up.”
Fellow passenger Jim Woodward, 68, who also lives in Claines, said: “I use it every single day.
“The city is congested enough, surely this will add to it.”
Wife Nancy Woodward, 71, said: “We think it’s terrible they are getting rid of it.”
Many passengers told your Worcester News they didn’t drive and the park and ride has become a firm part of their lives.
Maureen McCabe, who lives in Fernill Heath said: “I haven’t got a car and this is the best way to get into town.”
The county council’s leadership say the “difficult”
decision was taken because of dwindling customers.
Back in 2008 it peaked at 450,000 customers but fell to 274,935 last year, leading to a subsidy of £186,955 to keep it going.
The typical number of cars using the site is around 200 per day, less than half what the council aims for.
Some of the drivers blame the council for not promoting it enough but Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transport, said he felt they were fighting against the tide.
“The figures are down year after year, the only real peak periods for us now are Christmas and other special events,” he said.
“On that route the 144 is still going, so it’s not as if we have abandoned them – we are having to make difficult decisions but we are trying to do what we can.”
SIXWAYS PARK AND RIDE COULD BE SAVED - BUT ONLY FOR HOSPITAL STAFF
THE second park and ride due to be scrapped in September could continue in some form – after Worcestershire Royal Hospital raised concerns over its staff.
From September the Sixways facility, which goes to the hospital, is due to close.
The total cost of the loss-making site was £109,915 last year and the county council has an agreement in place where Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust contributes money as many of its employees are customers.
Although the council is scrapping all of its subsidy, the NHS held talks last week over continuing to invest in a scaled-down service to get staff into work.
The negotiations are ongoing, with the county council saying they are open minded about still running a lesser service for the staff as long as it doesn’t pay anything towards it.
Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The health authority is talking to the council and although nothing is definite yet, discussions are going forward.”
The acute trust says it is “looking into various options” for getting staff into work.
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