Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Calls for bus service provision at ‘empty’ park and share facility

Commuters are calling for the provision of a bus service at a new £220,000 park and share facility outside Newry which has lain almost unused since it was opened in the summer. 

The facility at Sheepbridge adjacent to the A1 Belfast Road, was opened by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in July this year, providing 106 new parking spaces.  The car park was developed to accommodate buses for future park and ride services and it was hoped the extra parking spaces would solve the problem of Belfast bound commuters parking on the road alongside an existing oversubscribed facility with just 63 spaces.

BBC Reporter Cormac Campbell visited the site last week where just 15 cars were parked in the new facility and 39 parked along the road outside the original oversubscribed car park.

Commuters say the 1km distance between the new car park and the nearest bus stop is to blame for the new facility’s lack of use.  Despite the new car park being built to accommodate buses, to date no services have been provided.

Local SDLP councillor Declan McAteer told the BBC he believes a survey should be carried out to establish if bus access is impacting on use of the car park.

“I would think that Translink would be quite open to discussions. It should be explored and if that requires the council to initiate it then they should,” he said.

Translink said it continued to work closely with the Department for Infrastructure on the provision of future park and ride facilities along the A1 corridor.

The DfI meanwhile said it was “aware of concerns regarding some vehicles continuing to park on the road and footway at the existing site whilst spaces remain in the new one.” 

A spokesperson said the PSNI have also issued advice leaflets to motorists parking on the footway and revealed that DfI Roads will complete the project with a new footway link between the two sites in the coming weeks.

“The new site has been designed so it can accommodate bus turning should that be required at a future date.”