'It would not be commercially viable': Alnwick park and ride feasibility study results
A study has concluded that a park and ride scheme for Alnwick is not commercially viable.
The idea of a seasonal park and ride to help cope with the summer influx of visitors was explored at the request of Northumberland County Council.
A feasibility study carried out by AECOM concludes: “The results of the appraisal suggest that the park and ride site would be unlikely to deliver revenue from the bus service to cover the operational costs of the service.
“Intervention from Northumberland County Council in the form of parking charges within Alnwick would deliver additional revenue, but this would come with increased cost in terms of enforcement of parking charges.
“It is also likely to be met with some resistance from current car park users who do not pay to park, and therefore could result in a loss of trade to the area.”
The findings of the study, commissioned on the back of a car parking action plan developed last year, were discussed by Alnwick Town Council.
Clerk Bill Batey said: “A number of sites have been looked at around the town. The costs of putting a brand new park and ride have been established along with the costs of using an existing car park, in this case the one at the Hog’s Head, and the revenue costs have also been looked at.
“It appears that to run one bus costs in the region of £300. It is suggested the minimum to operate a park and ride would be two buses, so £600 a day.
“Various scenarios were then worked through, looking at the costs of the scheme and car parking charges in the town, but essentially the conclusion is that unless the bus is free and there are car parking charges in the town then there isn’t going to be any incentive for people to use the park and ride and the overall conclusion is that it would not be commercially viable.
“I think it’s a conclusion that a lot of us would probably have come up with.”
Coun Gordon Castle commented: “It would be a bit absurd to have parking charges to make the introduction of a park and ride scheme more cost effective. It would be a bit insane.”
Coun Martin Swinbank remarked that there was no information in the study to reveal how many people would have to use the service to make it viable.
The study assessed that a site on the Lionheart Enterprise Park was the best location for a new park and ride. This could accommodate 250 vehicles at an estimated cost of £2.7million.
A shared car park at the Hog’s Head Inn, which has 130 spaces, would cost an estimated £480,000 to deliver. The study notes there is undeveloped land next to this site which could be used to create additional capacity if there was demand.
The study concludes: “Whilst the appraisal work undertaken suggests the park and ride site would not be commercially viable, it does not account for the benefits marketing of a park and ride site could bring, particularly when the targeted audience is tourists, who will not be familiar with the car parking facilities currently available within the centre of Alnwick.”