Newcastle’s Park and Ride service is set to continue for at least another month as the council examines how much it will cost to keep the popular transport option afloat.
The state government has provided temporary funding for the service since November 2017 in a bid to reduce the impact of the light rail’s construction.
However, Newcastle council’s chief executive, Jeremy Bath, claimed it had to step in last week because Transport for NSW refused to publicly indicate whether it would still support the Park and Ride.
Mr Bath added the service would continue from McDonald Jones Stadium to the CBD during April while a detailed cost analysis was undertaken.
“In a city that has traditionally refused to use public transport, the Park and Ride has proved Novocastrians will catch a bus to work when the service is affordable and reliable,” he said.
“While public transport is very clearly a responsibility of the NSW government, we owe it to the almost 1,000 passengers that use the Park and Ride weekly to do everything we can to continue the service.”
Mr Bath believed that, under the current model, the service operated at a cost of about $500,000 a year but added the council would look at ways to reduce this amount.
He claimed Transport for NSW refusal to confirm whether it would continue to fund the service had created angst and frustration for its users.
“[Council] is firmly of the opinion that it makes no sense to shut off funding to a public transport service that is incredibly popular, especially one that is a key promise in TfNSW’s own future transport plans,” Mr Bath said.
However, Transport for NSW stated funding for the Park and Ride was always linked to the light rail construction period and was never guaranteed beyond that timeframe.
It added about 135 to 225 people used the service each day and believed current timetable bus routes that service the city had the capacity to carry these customers.
“We encourage locals to consider nearby public transport options that may suit their travel needs,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson told Newcastle Weekly.
“Alternatively, customers may choose to park their car close to any frequent bus route and complete their journey into the city on public transport.”
Transport for NSW stated bus routes 13 and 26 pick up customers on Lambton Road and travel into the city, while bus routes 11, 13 and 14 travel into Newcastle’s east end with services every 15 minutes on weekdays.
Routes 12,22, 23, 24, 26, 28 and 47 go to Newcastle Interchange to connect with light rail services.