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Translink asks Belfast council to end free Christmas car parking

By Jonny Bell

Published 11/10/2016

Free parking had a
Free parking had a "significant impact" on city centre traffic, Translink said.

Northern Ireland bus operator Translink has asked Belfast City Council to end its free car parking incentive at Christmas.

Last year the council offered free parking at its sites after 6pm through the week and over the entire weekend. Over 1,500 spaces were available.

Translink said the incentive was a primary factor in having a "significant impact" on its services.

Instead it is asking the council to work with it on providing offers for people to use its park and ride facilities, the BBC reports.

In a letter to the council, Translink chief executive Chris Conway said free parking spaces were taken up quickly during the festive period last year resulting in long queues of cars waiting on spaces to be freed up or motorists circling the city in hope of a space.

It also added to rush hour delays, he said.

He outlined how 2,000 journeys were recorded as not operating last December due to service disruption. Punctuality was at 84% and complaints about the service rose by 28%, he said.

The operator estimates costs incurred because of the disruption to be around £250,000.

"We want to make Belfast an attractive, vibrant city for shopping and socialising not only all year round, but particularly at Christmas."

Belfast City Council's Growth and Regeneration Committee is to discuss the matter on Wednesday.

A Translink spokeswoman said: "Planning for Christmas parking and traffic are part of the discussions we have each year with Belfast City Council and other partners to help keep Belfast moving during this extremely busy period.”

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