Park and Ride

Joseph Bulmer

Sir - As a reasonably “frequent flyer” on the Barnstaple Park and Ride service since its inception, I have to write to express my disappointment with the reduced service now being offered.

Reduced services and a severely truncated route, introduced without any form of public consultation or proper notification, show an alarming lack of commitment to public transport by Devon County Council, and an even greater lack of understanding of the principles behind the successful operation of Park and Ride schemes.

To decide arbitrarily that the service will no longer run to Butchers Row, Green Lanes and Mermaid Cross will disappoint many potential travellers and this lack of penetration to destinations that people actually want may well result in a fall in fare revenue, and ironically an increase in the subsidy required.

The service is well used by a mixture of commuters and shoppers. Many of the latter are relatively elderly and not as mobile as perhaps they once were, so the notion that the new bus stop in Lower Boutport Street (advertised as “for Green Lanes”) seems rather optimistic. The new stop also means that there is no bus shelter available for the longer waits between services.

The new service seems to have been designed more for the convenience of the new operator as for the convenience of the public, and is wholly motivated by budget cuts at County Hall. The cuts in service are also at odds with County plans to improve traffic flows through the central part of Boutport Street – including new shelters by the Post Office.

With the Conservative County Council now looking for a further round of cuts is it too much to suggest that their hope might be that a dysfunctional service such as this will depress usage to the point that the service can be further reduced in frequency – or even abandoned completely?

Brian Macbeth