Monday, 7 October 2013

Cabinet Meeting - Park and Ride Car Parks

We have a few quite important decisions to make at Cabinet tomorrow, some are likely to be quite difficult politically.  Probably the one that will get the most headlines (again!!) is the decision about whether to implement a £1 charge per car to the 5 park and ride sites surrounding Cambridge City.

This is something we would prefer not ot do, but we are increasingly driven by the financial situation that Cambridgeshire faces - which means as a result of National funding cuts we have £154m of savings to find over the coming years, despite having already saved £124m.

The discussion around Park and Ride charges is complex but, to me, it boils down to the need to answer a simple question.  Given the current financial situation is it right that Council Tax payers across the whole of Cambridgeshire - whether they use them or not - continue to subsidise the park and ride sites to the tune of £1m a year?

If the answer to that question is no then there is, of course, a question of whether parking charges are the right way to cover that gap.  There are a number of arguments around that, but the only practical alternative is to increase the charges Stagecoach pay to operate buses on the site; they would inevitably pass these additional costs on to their passengers.  This is where you get into the difficult debate about whether "all users" should pay, because there are a number of people who use the park and ride site but don't use the buses - should it be free for them and thus disproportionately increasing the cost to bus users?

The other consideration is, of course, the impact on traffic in the City centre.  Here is what the response to the scrutiny committee report says about parking costs

"Off-street parking is expensive with the cost of three hours’ parking at the main city centre car parks ranging from at least £3.80 to £6.50 and for a daily stay between £12.50 and £25"

Given the cost of parking in the City, I can't see that there will be an impact of a £1 charge on traffic levels.  This is borne out from the evidence from other cities that have implemented charges for park and ride parking where they have seen short term drops in use which then quickly catch up back to previous levels of use.

Of course, these are just my thoughts, it is possible that Cabinet will defer a decision or say no.  But if the answer is "no" the question is where else do we find the money from?


  1. What has happened to Whittlesey news. For example - the controversial issue of the planning application for 249 houses East of East Delph

  2. I imagine that the contracts specifies the revenue stream for Stagecoach but is there not a way that they charging structure could be reversed so that people pay for parking and ride the bus for free with Stagecoach collecting their revenue from the parking charges? This would ensure that everyone using the Park and Ride sites would pay their share rather than bus users/tax payers subsidising free parking for those not using the bus.

    The current charge for a standard return is £2.60 or £2.90 and a day rider is £3.90. Depending on the numbers using the car park but not the bus and given that the current proposal is to charge £1 for parking on top of the current bus fare, an all day parking charge of somewhere between £3.50 £4.50 would still be cheaper than anywhere in the city centre and should allow the Council to raise the charge to Stagecoach for operating buses on the sites to help meet the £1m cost and allow Stagecoach to recover this cost from the increased number of people paying while limiting the extra cost to bus users who have so far subsidised those just parking.

  3. Ananymous. I do publish both Whittlesey and Cambridge news on here. To be honest there are others on our Town Council doing great work on the showfields development. I amvery much in touch with what is happening, but I don't want to start commenting and getting in e way of the good work of others. That said, I do also use Twitter to retweet stuff about the showfields as well.

  4. Trouble with a just a £1 for parking is that it probably will not cover the cost of collection. And the previous commenter has not experienced a) people parking in the road and using the bus for free and b) local residents waling to a free bus and not paying for local buses.

    The link needs to be that parking costs, and showing your parking ticket gets you the free ride.

  5. Martin could you create a separate blog stream for discussions re the Whittesey wash development and its progress please. Your comments are hideen under this stream