Park and Ride wobbles?
It appears that Colchester's Park and Ride is not doing as well financially as had been hoped. The figures after the first year of operation are not promising. It is common practice that a commercial investment, such as the Park & Ride service should ‘pay-back' the initial outlay over a period of ten years. Given that the Colchester operation cost £6.2 million it needs to recover an absolute minimum of £620,000 per annum. It does of course need to recover an income much greater than this to pay for its daily outgoings, (fuel, wages, bus lease payments, etc.).
However with passenger numbers at only 77,000 over the first year (May 2015 to April 2016) it is well short of break-even!
77,000 annual users equates to some 300 people per day, an average of less than ten on each bus! The service is run by the TGM Group, a company within Arriva plc one of the largest commercial transport organisation in Europe, but the operating losses are met by Essex County Council.
Using the ‘gaps'
The Society and other organisations have long regretted that there is insufficient linkage between the town centre and the Waterfront, particularly in the Turret Lane/Lower Brook Street area. The principle of having many more people living there is a good one, so proposals for building new retirement homes on the Archant (EADT) site sound promising. The proximity to the town centre is important for residents. But to make it more appealing, for those who would also like to go to the Waterfront, better crossing facilities at Star Lane and Key Street would help - as they would for all pedestrians.
New trains, at last
Abellio's nine-year contract has brought the promise of new trains on every service, starting in early 2019 and to be completed by October 2020. In addition to the new InterCity trains, there will be hybrid trains (electric and diesel) for routes like Ipswich to Cambridge which are only partly electrified, and Bombardier Aventra commuter trains. Doubling the service to Peterborough, making it hourly, should greatly encourage more passengers travelling north and north-west. The future prosperity of Ipswich will be enhanced by better transport.
Whether you ever go into the shop or not, it is quite clear that Primark is popular, as could be expected in a relatively low wage town. By taking over the splendid building next door, vacated by Gap, Primark is now double in size. Its future success seems more guaranteed than the presence of the many new restaurants.