Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fart and Ride with Delme Bowen .

And the front page of today's South Wales Echo reveals...

A FLAGSHIP park and ride scheme, part of Cardiff’s carbon-busting travel scheme, is losing £50,000 a month, the Echo can reveal. The Pentwyn facility in the east of the city costs five times as much to run as it brings in from commuters in an average month. Cardiff council created the £4m purpose-built park and ride last year as part of the city’s attempt to beat congestion and promote public transport. The council today said it had only been open for six months and it would take time for car drivers to change their habits.

Delme Bowen, Cardiff council’s executive member for transport , added Pentwyn was not intended as a money-making scheme but as a means of reducing congestion and bring down the city’s carbon footprint. Its costs are covered by income from pay and display parking in the city centre. The park and ride figures, obtained by the Echo under the Freedom of Information Act, show the Pentwyn scheme costs £56,894 to provide buses, maintenance and staffing over a four-week period. But the site’s monthly income has fluctuated between £4,532 and £21,556 in the peak Christmas shopping period, although most months the average is around £10,000. In total, over the past five months – 22 weeks – the site has cost almost £313,000 to run but has taken in just £63,400 – a loss of £250,000, or £50,000 a month. The 320-parking space site has been busiest on Saturdays and Sundays with shoppers. Cardiff council is planning to expand it to 700 spaces to cater for its popularity.

...What were you thinking Delme? Are you living in the real world? I think NOT. As regular readers of this blog will know, I have worked with buses and coaches for over 30 years. Once people get the use of a private motor car they are extremely reluctant to use public transport. The private motor car offers such convenience and independence that it cannot be beaten by public transport. Delme Bowen has this pipe dream, in the comfort of his office, that people will be happy to abandon their car on the outskirts of our city and queue up in the cold for a 15 minute frequency bus service. Then they will have a 20 minute bus journey with complete strangers to the edge of our shopping district in Dumfries Place. This maybe the wrong side of our City Centre for them and they can look forward to a trek across town to their destination. When they have finished their business in our city they can look forward to the trek back to Dumfries Place, a wait at a bus stop for a 15 minute frequency service and hop back onto a bus for another 20 minute journey with more strangers. This is assuming that they are happy to return before 20.30 Monday to Friday, 19.00 on a Saturday and 17.30 on a Sunday. Yeah right!

In the real world people do not want a park and ride service. People want the convenience, independence and fast journey times that private motor cars offer. Once people have invested in a car they do not want to trade down to public transport. If public transport was so wonderful they would never have bought a car in the first place. Car users quickly go to exactly where they want to go, park up and enjoy. That is the real world and that is why this park and ride project has failed. It was a big surprise to me when the Pentwyn Park and Ride started. I never thought it would be successful because of the demographics of our city and the convenience of the car. Once people get the use of a car, they never go back to the bus.
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