€220,000 car park closed after four months
A PILOT park-and-ride service that received €220,000 in funding has been scrapped after just four months.
The service covered the commuter belt around Galway, allowing motorists to park in the airport and avail of buses into the city centre.
The park-and-ride facility was set up by the Galway Airport board as part of its business plan to secure the future of the facility. However, it was attracting fewer than 100 commuters a day.
The pilot scheme had been due to continue until November but has ceased with immediate effect – two months early.
Chief executive of Galway Chamber Michael Coyle said the decision was taken when it became clear that uptake was not increasing.
The decision will save the taxpayer €32,000 in pledged funding from the National Transport Authority (NTA), according to Mr Coyle.
"We were provided €100,000 funding from the NTA for the six-month pilot period. We received €16,000 a month from the NTA via Galway City Council. To date we've been paid for three months and are awaiting payment for the fourth.
"We are keenly aware that this is taxpayers' money and when it became clear it wasn't working we chose not to continue," he said.
A further €20,000 from the NTA was spent on marketing the venture. However, from the start it struggled to entice commuters. In June, the number of bus departures was cut by almost half, from 50 to 28, in a bid to cut losses.
Mr Coyle said he was surprised by the slow take up and insisted that it had been strongly publicised.
"It has been constantly in the media over the months. Apart from the advertising taken out, there was an extensive level of media interest in it. The question is why people were not willing to use an alternative to car commuting.
"These routes during peak times are bumper to bumper. The mystery is that drivers elected to drive past the facility and continue to sit in their cars," he said.
"We had hoped for a boost in numbers when the schools returned but that didn't materialise," he added.
The service also received €100,000 from the two local authorities which was used to cover the day-to-day costs.
Mr Coyle said the funding from the city and county councils was used to keep the airport afloat while its business plan, which included the park and ride plans, was put in place.
Mr Coyle said that other aspects of the business plan were working well and as a result the airport remained operational.