'Emergency' park and ride service for Weston?
PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 May 2018
Plans for an 'emergency' park and ride system for Weston-super-Mare are being developed in the wake of chaotic bank holiday traffic, but a permanent service 'is not justifiable'.
The town’s roads were clogged as thousands enjoyed the warmest early May bank holiday on record – renewing calls for a park and ride service to reduce congestion.
North Somerset Council has stated several times a park and ride service is not financially viable – but the authority has revealed it is exploring the possibility of a temporary service for the busiest days of the year.
Elfan Ap Rees, the council’s executive member for highways, said two options are being assessed: a bus service from Weston airfield or Worle Railway Station, where trains would transport people into town.
He said: “A permanent park and ride is being looked at but at the present time it is not justifiable. The setup and operation wouldn’t be cost effective.
“We are looking at a couple of emergency options for when we have days like the bank holiday.
“It was a perfect storm, a combination of events which brought people to Weston – particularly the weather and the school holidays. Traders were doing very well and I would like it to be like that every weekend.
“In future we could have a temporary park and ride at council-owned land at Weston airfield.
“The other option is the railway car park at Worle but I have my doubts about that. The trains are already busy and most local services only have two carriages.”
The council is set to keep a close eye on traffic at the next bank holiday before developing its plans further.
Cllr Ap Rees shed light on the council’s ongoing discussions after Central ward councillor Mike Bell called for a ‘fresh approach to traffic management’.
Cllr Bell said: “Much has changed since 2009, when a park and ride was looked at in detail. On-street parking charges and enforcement have radically altered the regime in the town centre.
“There have been many homes built in the town and with more planned, again likely to affect parking supply and demand.
“This is not an issue which can be kicked down the road into the 2020s and 2030s. The council should accelerate consideration of a park and ride so we can keep Weston moving.”