By Richard Wright THE ISLAND'S first park and ride bus scheme was launched this week.
The IW Council, Red Funnel and Southern Vectis teamed up to launch the 85-space car park created by the IW Council's highways department at the former council depot at Somerton Industrial Estate.
Park and ride will take people to the Red Jet terminal and Cowes town centre on weekdays.
Aimed at commuters, as a response to the town losing its Denmark Road car park, parking is free for the first month with the bus costing just £1 return.
Chairman of Cowes Business Association Andy Willard said: "It won't solve the problem but it will certainly help and should stop the mad commuter dash for spaces in the mornings.
"It has been talked about for five or six years now and losing Denmark Road was the catalyst that has made it happen.
"But we still need better parking provision in town for day visitors, coaches and local people and that should include creation of a multi-storey on the St Mary's Road car park."
IW Council head of engineering services Steve Matthews appealed to the public using the new service to leave a little extra time for journeys in the first few days to allow for teething troubles.
"This has the potential to be a great boon, not only for those who commute to the mainland but for the whole of Cowes. It will help ease the parking situation and allow some of the much-needed residents' parking schemes to be implemented."
Executive transport spokesman Cllr Ernie Fox said: "We now need the travelling public to use and support the scheme, which will allow us to develop it further in Cowes and at other locations on the Island that suffer similar parking challenges."
From April 13, bus services 1, 2 and 3 will call at the council-built bus shelter at Somerton, providing a 15-minute interval scheduled service but until then, a temporary shuttle service subsidised by Red Funnel and timed around morning and evening peaks, will be in place.