Doncaster’s controversial park and ride sites should be scrapped, it was claimed today, after fresh concerns over the scheme were raised.
The express 638 bus service linking the two park and ride sites in the north and south of the borough is set to be halted, sparking fears about the long-term future of the scheme as cutbacks bite.
Calls to scrap the sites come as it is revealed less than half the anticipated passenger numbers are using the facility in the north.
South Yorkshire transport chiefs, looking to make big savings from April, say the two car parks at Scawthorpe and Rossington will not be closing, but use of them is still well below the anticipated targets when they opened more than five years ago.
But Doncaster’s former elected Mayor, Peter Davies, a vocal opponent of the park and rides from their inception, has again called for them to be ‘axed’.
The express 638 bus service in Doncaster, which runs weekday peak times between Doncaster North and South Park and Ride sites via the town centre, is proposed to be discontinued from the end of April.
The cutbacks, which are due to be considered on Thursday by councillors, come as South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority aim to make savings of around 10 per cent to their annual budget.
The 638 service runs from both South and North park and ride sites between 7am and 9.30am and 4.20pm and 6.15pm on weekdays only, with 10 buses in the morning and eight in the evening.
Mr Davies said: “Why would anyone want to use this bus service anyway? They already have buses serving the two park and rides.
“The 638 appears to be a complete waste of time, and a further example of bureaucratic waste.”
A spokesman for the passenger transport executive confirmed the sites would ‘remain open and will be served by the remaining commercial services, which are 55 from the South and 50/50a from the North, operating every 10 minutes’.
Doncaster North is still the least used site, with only 1,285 cars last November compared to anticipated usage of 2,900 a month.
Doncaster South started in September 2008 with an anticipated monthly usage of 2,200 and has slowly risen from 1,115 in October 2008 to 1,960 in November 2013.
Mr Davies, who repeatedly expressed concern about the costs of the scheme when he was in office, said: “The whole park and ride should be axed. It is subsidising the rich car owner who parks there and hops on a bus for £2, while the poor are penalised because the fare from somewhere like Rossington is more than that.
“It is absolutely disgraceful that £70m of public money was wasted starting it up, and it has cost a lot more since.”
Over the past three years the transport executive has had its budget slashed by more than £17m and it has made deep cuts in its workforce. Cuts next year total £8.3m.
This week’s budget discussions are also expected to scale back by half an hour the OAP and disabled persons’ concessionary travel scheme so weekday free travel is available from 9.30am to 11pm, rather than from 9am.
But travel chiefs say the good news is child concessionary fares won’t go up in April, and evening, weekend and rural bus services are protected.