The cost of using the Park & Ride in Bath is set to go up from next month, with some tickets increasing by more than twice the rate of inflation. From the 1st April, the cost of a weekday return ticket is to go up from £3 to £3.20, a rise of nearly 7%, whilst a ten-journey pass will increase by over 8% from £12 to £13. Weekend return tickets will remain at £2.50 per person. Under the current agreement between B&NES Council and First, it is now the bus company and not the Council which sets the fares. The price increase has sparked renewed calls from Conservative councillors for a discounted monthly or season pass to be introduced on the Park & Rides to encourage more commuters out of their cars and onto the buses.
Shadow spokesman for Transport, Cllr Tim Warren, said: “The Council should be trying to encourage more commuters and visitors to use our Park and Rides, not put them off through above-inflation price rises. The expansion of the Park and Rides will already bolster the profits of FirstBus, so the need for these fare increases seems highly questionable. Unfortunately, when B&NES signed the new contract to run the Park and Rides it handed over control of the fares to FirstBus, so it’s hardly surprising we’re now seeing price rises. At the moment, it can work out cheaper for a group of three to drive into Bath and park in the city centre for the day than use the Park and Ride. This seems to make no sense at all. We’ve called on B&NES to work with First on introducing a multi-person ticket to make the Park and Rides more attractive for car-sharers and a cheaper monthly ticket to attract more commuters. So far we’ve heard nothing on what progress has been made on these ideas. This doesn’t appear to show much effort from the Lib Dems in promoting a sustainable transport policy.”
Once the new fares come into effect, the cost of 3 adults travelling on the Park and Ride will be higher than an 11 hour ticket in Charlotte Street Car Park. Many commuters who drive to Bath and currently park all day in and around Victoria Park will have to find alternatives from the end of May when time restrictions will be introduced. Many will be expected to use the Park and Ride instead and are cynical of the latest fares hike.