£8m park-and-share facility where few park and few share
A new park-and-ride scheme in Belfast is still standing empty after the Government department in charge failed to secure a tender to provide the bus service.
The Cairnshill park-and-ride, which opened last month, is currently being advertised as a park-and-share as there is no dedicated bus service to and from the car park to the city centre.
Located on the junction of the Saintfield Road and Purdysburn Road, the £8m facility has already been branded “half-baked”, “doomed” and “Northern Ireland’s most expensive skate park” since it opened in August.
With the capacity to hold 726 vehicles, the car park looked decidedly empty on Wednesday afternoon, with only 13 cars. It appeared more popular with the local residents as a convenient short cut on the way from collecting the kids from school.
A bus timetable can be picked up at the terminal building in the car park, which shows three bus services available to commuters — only one of which actually stops at the park-and-ride. And even then only twice a day.
Translink has added this stop to its service to facilitate the park-and-ride until the Department for Regional Development (DRD) can secure a contract with a bus company to operate the service.
The department has defended the empty car park, saying it is operating as a park-and-share until a dedicated bus service can be put in place. The contract is currently out to tender and is expected to be secured by November with a view to begin operating by December or January.
A DRD spokesperson said the start date for bus services will be “dependant on the outcome of the public tender and will be timed to coincide with the introduction of enhanced bus priority measures”.