County hopeful of saving park and ride to Ipswich town centre

Ipswich Park and Ride. Martlesham.

Ipswich Park and Ride. Martlesham. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Detailed talks on a proposal to save the park and ride services to Ipswich town centre are expected to lead to a deal to continue running the buses during the summer.

Suffolk County Council said last year that it could not afford to carry on subsidising the two remaining park and ride sites, at Copdock Mill and Martlesham, and would be looking at ways of cutting its losses or closing them.

Since then there have been talks with Ipswich Buses, which runs the service as a single cross-town route, to look at ways of cutting the subsidy which totalled £712,000 in 2014-15.

The county has also been talking to First Eastern Counties, which operates the Superoute 66 service from Martlesham and Kesgrave to Ipswich.

It is thought that the council is looking into ways of integrating the car parks at either end of the service into other bus routes to enable the subsidies to be reduced.

The current contract with Ipswich Buses is due to run until 2018, but there are break clauses, and it is aiming to introduce a new way of running the service later in the year.

Cabinet member for transport James Finch said: “Discussions up to this point between the partners involved have been very positive.

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“The work undertaken in the last three months has given confidence that the Ipswich Park and Ride service could be remodelled to operate at a much lower cost to the tax payer.

“The project has now moved into the more detailed planning phase and the partners hope to consider a fully worked up proposal in the next few months.”

A new model for running the service is due to be agreed by the county’s cabinet in the summer and be in operation by the autumn – well before the Christmas shopping period.