Who might kill Ipswich's Park and Ride?
The recession brings many changes: some things slow down (or stop), others grow. An example of the latter is the number of development sites that have applied for and been given planning permission for temporary car parking - usually for two or three years which, if there is no development use for the site, are frequently renewed for a further three years. The Ipswich Society generally objects to the granting of planning permission for temporary car parking on the basis that if the developer receives an income stream from the car park taking the long term risk on development is less likely to happen, and limited time permission means the site operator is less likely to screen the site, plant trees or add lighting.
However, there are currently some 1500 spaces close to the Waterfront on temporary permissions, with parking fees as low as 50p per hour. This means there is little difficulty in finding a parking space in Ipswich which has led to a reduction in the use of the Park & Ride facilities, particularly for those drivers who intend to stay less than five hours (i.e. shoppers and visitors). Long stay commuter parking is not permitted in these temporary car parks, or at least the fees charged are prohibitive.
These short stay visitors are the very people who should be using the Park & Ride facilities during the working day. The consequence is that buses travel into and out of town after the morning rush hour with very few passengers. Ipswich's Park & Ride scheme is a Suffolk County Council subsidised facility, whilst the planning permission for temporary car parking is by Development Control of Ipswich Borough Council.
I cannot foresee the subsidy continuing indefinitely, so what's the future for the Park & Ride? In the long term the building sites will be developed and the drivers looking for a parking space will move elsewhere (into the 700 space Tesco car park, which is promised to be free for short term parking).
Service buses could marginally change their routes to serve the Park & Ride car parks. Ipswich Buses service 13 to Tesco Copdock for example is just yards away from the P & R terminal, and the 66 route between the railway station and Martlesham could divert to the P & R. This would put a lot more flexibility into the P & R service; currently they cannot pick up passengers other than at the P & R site, or the town centre for the return journey. What \ye cannot afford as times get tough is to run empty buses along the main corridors for the majority of the day.
John Norman Vice-Chairman