Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong has welcomed the introduction of new high-tech buses between Newtownards and Belfast but added she is disappointed there has been no progress on a park and ride for the town.
Ms Armstrong was speaking after Translink announced eight new vehicles – known as Urby – with a range of features including USB charging points and free WiFi. However, she said while the investment was good news for locals, the issue of a lack of a park and ride for Newtownards remained.
“Many more people would be able to use the Urby for the last part of their commute if appropriate car parking, such as a park and ride, was available in Newtownards. As Chair of the Multi-Agency Forum, I am aware of the impact on-street parking is having on residents there. The last thing the town centre needs is for all off-street car parks to be filled with commuters preventing customers from being able to access shops and businesses.
“I have written to Translink to ask for an update on their plans for a park and ride in Newtownards. Until there is an appropriate parking option then commuters travelling from the Peninsula or Comber area do not have an incentive to shift from car to public transport.
“Translink have said ‘smarter’ travellers will use the Urby service. I find that somewhat patronising. I am a smarter traveller. I’m also smart enough to know there isn’t a park and ride option that suits me, a rural commuter. I look forward to receiving an update from them on their proposals for a park and ride that will serve commuters from the Ards Peninsula and other rural areas.”