Newcastle’s popular Park and Ride will continue with a family friendly tweak, starting the afternoon service to McDonald Jones Stadium earlier to support parents who need to pick their kids up from school or childcare.
Keolis Downer Hunter has been awarded the contract to continue operating Park and Ride until at least 30 June 2020, beginning Monday 29 July 2019 with a new fee of $4.60.
City of Newcastle has kept the service running since Transport for NSW pulled its funding earlier this year and during that time surveyed current and prospective passengers on cost, preferred running times, and barriers to use.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Park and Ride plays an important role in freeing up around 200 car parks in the city centre each day by giving commuters a convenient and affordable alternative to driving and paying for all day parking.
“Since taking over Park and Ride in April, the City has assessed passenger feedback, running times and patronage to determine whether the service should continue and how it could be improved,” the Lord Mayor said.
“We’ve heard from the community, city businesses and major employers, and the message is clear; Park and Ride is making the daily commute easier for more than 1,000 regular weekly users, keeping cars out of the CBD, and should be continued.
“For a person who switches from parking in the city each day to using the Park and Ride express bus from Broadmeadow, they will be on average $900 a year better off.”
New Lambton resident Jenni Payne, a graphic designer who works in the city, takes Park and Ride three days a week and said the earlier afternoon return service would make her life easier.
“I’m always in a mad rush to get back to the car and pick the kids up from school,” said the mother of two New Lambton Public School students. “So, getting the return bus at 2.25pm will definitely take the pressure off and make Park and Ride a more convenient option for me.”
City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said the price increase, along with in-kind support from Venues NSW and McDonald Jones Stadium, and a competitive agreement with the operator, made continuing the service viable for the City.
“The return price of $4.60 for an express service is substantially cheaper than the $7-return Opal bus fare or the $8.50 all-day city parking,” Mr Bath said.
“Venues NSW must be thanked for throwing its support behind Park and Ride by agreeing to waive the parking fee it previously charged City of Newcastle to locate the Park and Ride at McDonald Jones Stadium.
“There have been more than 120,000 passenger trips on Park and Ride since it commenced in November 2017, and with the future of the service now secured, the City of Newcastle is committed to further increasing passenger numbers by ensuring the service is convenient and reliable and saves its users time and money.”
Venues NSW CEO Paul Doorn said Venues NSW was keen to continue its support for the park and ride.
“Venues NSW is happy to work with the City of Newcastle to deliver Park and Ride and ensure assets like McDonald Jones Stadium benefit the Newcastle community outside of event days,” he said.
New Lambton's Jenni Payne boards the Park and Ride bus before embarking on the busy school run
Park and Ride continues from Monday 29 July. For more information visit www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/parkandride
Lambton commuter Jordan May loves how afforadable the service is