By a County Press reporter

Thursday, April 10, 2003



The empty Somerton car park, designed to take park and ride users' vehicles. Pictures by CHRIS THWAITES.

By Richard Wright NOT a single motorist used the new Cowes park and ride scheme for days after it was set up by the IW Council.

The shuttle bus laid on to take commuters to the Red Funnel terminal and shoppers into town stood idle in the first days of the £12,000 scheme, which started on Wednesday last week.

The IW Council transport portfolio holder, Cllr Ernie Fox, said there was a need to change attitudes, encourage people on to public transport and get car park prices right to make park and ride successful.

He told a meeting of the watchdog IW Area Environment Group: "I am old enough to have a bus pass and do occasionally use it but only when it is convenient to me.

"We have to find ways of improving the frequency of buses and that means increasing the number of people that use them."

He told Monday's meeting: "The car has become king but you need more of the king's subjects to control it.

"Cowes park and ride has not been well advertised but we haven't had a single customer yet."

Cllr Fox toured the town's car parks on his way to the meeting and said it was not surprising that park and ride was unused when he found there were 20 spaces left in Brunswick Road car park, which cost people £2.55 for 24-hour parking. That was reduced to something like £1 a day on an annual permit.

"It is very difficult to persuade people but it has to be considered that people who park all day are robbing shoppers of the opportunity to use spaces."

After the meeting Cllr Fox said: "It cost us £12,000 to put in the park and ride, which was within our capital programme. Charges for parking on the Esplanade do not come in for a couple of weeks yet and we anticipate when things become busier and the word gets round that park and ride is there, people will start to use it."

Park and ride was set up at the former council depot at Somerton Industrial Estate after the loss of in-town parking at the Denmark Road site, which is being developed.

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