Canterbury City Council is to temporarily suspend park and ride services from its Sturry Road site for two months after an ongoing drop in demand.
The final day of services will be this Friday (16 July). Buses will then resume on Monday 20 September. Services from New Dover Road and Wincheap are unaffected.
Fewer than 100 vehicles are using the Sturry Road service a day at the moment, with customer confidence in public transport remaining uncertain. Suspending the service will save the council £65,000 in operating costs.
The car park at Sturry Road will remain open for use free of charge. People can then walk, cycle, rent an e-scooter or catch a regular, timetabled Stagecoach service into the city centre at a cost of £3.50 return.
Sundays FREE at Wincheap
Meanwhile, at Wincheap park and ride, the council is introducing a full and free of charge Sunday service from this weekend (18 July), paid for using money from the government’s Welcome Back Fund, which will continue into 2022.
The aim is to encourage people back into the city centre and boost Sunday takings in Canterbury’s shops, cafes, restaurants and attractions.
This expansion of the Wincheap service means the regular Sunday boot fair in the park and ride car park will not be returning. However, the council is keen to hear from anyone who would like to take the boot fair on at another location, and suggestions of potential sites would also be welcomed.
Lead councillor for parking, Cllr Barbara Flack, said: “We have looked very carefully at the figures and have concluded that the cost of running park and ride at Sturry Road cannot be justified at the moment with such a small number of customers.
“We understand this may inconvenience some people, who might have to go on a slightly longer journey in order to use one of the other two sites, and we are sorry for this, but we have to look at our overall financial position and make some difficult decisions.
“We expect customer interest at Sturry Road to pick up again in the autumn, especially as the education sector gets back into full swing.
“It is much better news at Wincheap where we are delighted to be introducing a full Sunday service every week, free of charge. Sundays are an important trading day and we hope this will encourage more people to come and spend their money.
“We know there is some nervousness about using public transport, but we can reassure people that the park and ride buses are subject to a very strict cleaning regime and they are safe to use.”