As "Bus Users" we wouldn't expect to make much use of Lancaster's new Park & Ride service. It's aimed at motorists in an attempt to keep cars out of the city centre and, of course, you need a car to be able to use it in the first place. But one of our members has given it a try and here is his report:
"This morning at 8am I drove to the Park & Ride. The car park was empty save for my car and two others, which the bus driver said was a three-car share: two cars are left at the site and the occupants continue their journey in the third without using the bus. I waited in my car for about 20 minutes before a single decker Kirkby Lonsdale bus drew up.
The bus shelter had a pretty purple silhouette of the Lancaster Skyline on it but little else. There were no toilets , no heating, and no visible CCTV. The gates were open but had no locks so the main car park 1 seems to be open 24/7. Car park 2 overflow is locked and is clearly not needed at present. There was no Tourist information whatsoever.
There was a price list of fares and a family ticket for two adults and three children was £3 which seemed reasonable. I had to pay £1.50 as it was before the Bus Pass watershed. The car park charge will be £1 but is currently free until February as there are no ticket machines.
I was the only passenger. The driver said he had had 4 people yesterday and 40 on Saturday. The bus was new but did not have LED or audio announcements to indicate the route or stopping points.. The driver was friendly and told me he felt that stopping at George Street for the Hospital was pointless.
I asked the driver what tourist attraction he would recommend to a visitor to the city. With typical Lancaster realism he said " The Castle - but it is shrouded in scaffolding" . Perhaps what he should have said is " The Castle and there are fantastic tours of the dungeons inside" I don't know what training the drivers get in promoting tourism but I am quite happy to take them on tours of Lancaster and the Castle. (Our member is a tourist guide in the city).
Something that rail passengers should note is that Virgin Trains has hugely increased the daily rate for parking (It's now £12 on Mondays to Fridays and £4 on Saturdays) and it would be much cheaper to use the Park & Ride and get off at China Street for the short walk up Meeting House Lane to the station. But why does the bus not go to the Railway Station any way and then on to the bus station before going to Caton Road?"
The above is, of course, only one user's view (and not necassarily that of the Bus Users' Group, although we would agree with much of what it says). Perhaps the County Council and the operator would like to take up our member's offer of a tour of the city's attractions for the driver(s) and perhaps they might consider re-routing via the railway station if there is sufficient free time in the schedule.