Park and ride price hike

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Motorists who use Norwich's park and ride system face a third set of inflation-busting price hikes this year as part of plans to cut a £1.8m subsidy from the public purse to run it.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Motorists who use Norwich's park and ride system face a third set of inflation-busting price hikes this year as part of plans to cut a £1.8m subsidy from the public purse to run it.

Norfolk County Council is looking to cut the annual bill to council taxpayers to run the six sites by £120,000 as part of a strategy to phase out the subsidy.

Under proposals to be considered by the council's ruling cabinet on Monday, motorists could pay £3.20 for a daily ticket - up 20p or 6.6pc from the current price, though that could eventually rise to £3.30.

Parking after 12.30pm on weekdays will rise 10p to £1.60 while discounts on season tickets are set to be reduced which means a six-day flexi ticket will rise £2 to £15, an annual ticket will increase by £45 to £440 and a business club ticket will rise by £7.50 to £46.

A special £2 rate for passengers travelling from Costessey park and ride and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is also being scrapped after abuse by motorists who headed into the city centre instead.

Most Read

The price hikes come amid increasing pressure on the authority's transport budget including the £500,000 costs of running Norwich bus station and the £80,000 bill to provide real-time computer information to bus passengers.

Charges for all-day parking and afternoon weekday parking were already raised in January, while the latter was increased again in April.

County Hall is also known to be considering plans to charge bus firms to use the station, though talks have failed to reach a deal.

A report to the cabinet stresses that with 36 car parks competing for trade in Norwich and providing 9,000 parking spaces, the right balance is needed between cutting subsidies and putting off motorists.

“Fares need to be set at a level to ensure park and ride is an attractive option, otherwise customers may choose to drive into the city centre, sacrificing a few more pence for the convenience of closer parking,” it said.

“The increase in the daily charge represents a 6.6pc rise, in line with transport linked inflation recognising the industry costs of bus services. There may be scope to increase the daily charge to £3.30.”

Such a move would generate a further £110,000 saving, but the report warns that “the availability of city centre parking at competitive prices means there is a degree of uncertainty about customer response” and could fail to bring in any extra revenue.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said the service was under pressure from all sides - including a price war among city centre car park owners, while transport costs were rising at a far higher rate than the standard retail price index.

“I think park and ride is a success story but we have got to keep the costs within balance given the severe financial constraints within the county council,” he said.