New Park and Ride at Lancaster opens on Friday with free parking
People will be able to park for free at Lancaster's new Park and Ride service when it first opens to encourage drivers to give it a try, and appeal to Christmas shoppers who want to avoid city centre congestion. The new facility at junction 34 of the M6 has been delivered as part of the Bay Gateway project, which provides a direct link from the motorway to the Heysham peninsula.
The 650-space site is due to open on Friday 9 December, with the first bus leaving for Lancaster at 6.50am.
Pay and display facilities will be installed in February 2017. However, until then, parking will be free, giving people the chance to pay just £1.50 for a return bus ticket, or use the site at no cost to park and cycle, walk, or car-share.
County Councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The new Park and Ride is a key feature of the Bay Gateway and aims to boost Lancaster's economy by improving access to the city, and reducing congestion which also has wider environmental benefits.
"Parking at the site will be convenient for people who want to use the bus, or the River Lune Cycleway to complete their journey. It's also a good place to meet for anyone who wants to car share on their way into Lancaster.
"Parking will be free to begin with, which we hope will be a good incentive for people to start using the Park and Ride. With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, the timing is particularly good for people who are visiting the centre of Lancaster for shopping or social events.
"The Park and Ride will continue to offer good value when we begin charging to park in February, with all-day parking available for just £1, and £1.50 for a return ticket on the bus."
The Park and Ride will operate from Monday to Saturday, with buses running every 30 minutes between the Park and Ride and Lancaster Bus Station via George Street. On weekdays, services will begin at 6.50am at the Park and Ride, with the last service back to the site leaving Lancaster Bus Station at 7.35pm. On Saturdays the first bus leaving the Park and Ride will be at 7.50am, with the last return service leaving Lancaster Bus Station at 6.35pm.
When fully up and running, people will be able to pay and display to park, or pay on their mobile phones. There will also be a variety of ticketing options, including a weekly ticket for £6, a family day ticket (up to 2 adults for 3 children) for £3, and a group day ticket (up to 4 adults travelling together) for £4 . Facilities include a fully enclosed bus shelter with seating and CCTV security.
The site will be open 24-hours a day so will also be ideal for people wanting to car share to longer distances, without needing to worry about their car being locked in. Whilst no buses will operate on a Sunday, the site will be open making it a good option for anyone who wants to cycle or walk along the river Lune.
County Councillor Fillis added: "At first buses will run from the Park and Ride every 30 minutes, which is the longest anyone will have to wait. This is the level of service we can afford at the moment but we're already exploring opportunities to fund more frequent services.
"The Park and Ride is an excellent facility which will complement one of the benefits provided by the Bay Gateway in reducing congestion in Lancaster. The proposals outlined in our Highways and Transport Masterplan for Lancaster show how we will work to build on this in the future by managing city centre traffic more closely to ensure Lancaster continues to be a great place to live and work."