Something's missing from Bristol's newest £1.2m park-and-ride site
THIS £1.2million park and ride site on the edge of Bristol stands empty weeks after it first opened.
It's the newest site in the Greater Bristol area, but as our picture shows, even on weekdays the 200-space area at Stoke Gifford is hardly used.
The facility in Hunts Ground Road was provided to help encourage more people to use public transport, ease congestion and prevent commuters parking on roads near Parkway station.
But on three occasions recently when the Evening Post visited the site, not one of the 200 spaces was occupied.
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On another day a driver who planned to leave his car there while making the rest of his journey by train turned up to find one other vehicle on the site. He changed his mind and parked elsewhere when the ticket machine failed – after taking the £5 fee.
Janet Wooster, who lives next to Frenchay Hospital, said: "Every time I've gone past, it's either empty or there are just one or two cars in it. It seems to be a waste of money."
Mrs Wooster, 64, said her 11-year-old granddaughter, Tamsin, had even started a game to count the number of cars there.
The park and ride is the first to be operated by South Gloucestershire Council, which built it primarily for train passengers travelling out of Parkway, where finding a parking space is often difficult.
But it also wants commuters to leave their cars there and catch buses to places such as Emersons Green, Thornbury, Yate, Chipping Sodbury, the University of the West of England and Bristol city centre.
It said another benefit would be the removal of cars left all day on surrounding streets, which annoyed residents and caused traffic hazards.
But with no restrictions in place on those roads, drivers who can't or won't use Parkway's spaces are continuing to park on them for free instead of paying to use the park and ride.
The council is currently consulting with people living near Parkway over plans for waiting restrictions as part of a wider proposal that will also resolve parking problems outside St Michael's Primary School and possibly introduce a residents' parking scheme, if there is enough support.
Council spokesman Robert Gage said: "The council acknowledges that take-up for the park and ride site has been initially slow but it is still at a very early stage of operation. We will be increasing marketing activity to promote this site and we welcome comments from users and potential users of the park and ride facility on how it could be improved for the future."
He said the park and ride fees were cheaper than at Parkway – £5 on weekdays and £3 at weekends – and the council was investigating why the pay and display machines did not work recently.
He said: "Where malfunctions are reported, these are prioritised for repair. However, payment by mobile phone is to be introduced in the near future."