A £15 million park and ride facility in Aberdeen is used on average by seven cars a day, the Evening Express can reveal today.
Figures obtained through Freedom of Information have unveiled the state of usage for the facilities.
The Craibstone site, near Aberdeen International Airport, which has the capacity to hold 996 vehicles, opened in June 2017.
Aberdeen City Council invested £15.2m in the premises – but since its opening it has seen an average of 14 cars a day using the facility drop to just seven.
Meanwhile, the figures also reveal park and ride outlets in Bridge of Don and Kingswells have also experienced a slump.
Craibstone was the latest in a series of projects the local authority had helped fund including the Aberdeen bypass, Berryden Corridor and third Don crossing.
Currently, the Stagecoach service 37 operates at Craibstone every 30 minutes between the bus station at Union Square and Inverurie via Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Bucksburn.
However, it is hoped there could be an increase in the number of vehicles using the site with the launch of P&J Live. An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said the site would likely play a major role in events happening at the venue, where shuttle services might be in operation.
However, he added the “primary function of the site is to reduce the volume of vehicles travelling into the most congested parts of the city”.
A report by transport body Nestrans in June highlighted an 11% drop in bus passengers in the north-east since 2015.
The report said 29.9 million people used the bus in 2015-16, but numbers have shown only 26.5 million used them in 2017-18 – a drop of 11.2%.
Councillor Sandra Macdonald, the council’s transport spokeswoman, said: “We are aware of the declining patronage at the three park and ride sites in Aberdeen.
“This is reflective of a decline in bus patronage across Scotland and although the north-east region has not seen the steepest decline across the country, it faces the same challenges as elsewhere, with an 11% drop in patronage between 2015-16 and 2017-18.
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“As a result the P&R sites at Bridge of Don and Craibstone have seen a reduction in the frequency of bus services operating at the sites, which is not conducive to attracting growth.
“We are working closely with our partners through the North East of Scotland Bus Alliance to arrest decline in bus patronage and to achieve year-on-year growth in bus patronage, including the use of park and ride sites and services.
“A number of complimentary workstreams are also being progressed to improve the road capacity for bus priority and deliver improvements for active and sustainable travel.
“These long-term projects will work towards making bus use more attractive and in turn, will increase the attractiveness of the P&R sites, which while they may not be operating to capacity at present, have been constructed at a size to allow for the desired long term growth”.
Originally both Stagecoach and First Bus ran services from Craibstone but First pulled its route due to a lack of use.
David Phillips, operations director for First Aberdeen, said: “The key to success for any park and ride set-up is to incentivise onward bus travel versus continuing on a car journey.
“Unfortunately, this is currently not the case for either of the city’s park and ride facilities as is reflected in the passenger figures and work needs to be done here to justify these strategically important locations.
“We are willing to be key partners in this process and would be happy to revisit it when the balance is right and these issues have been addressed.”
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Stagecoach North Scotland added: “Park and ride facilities play a vital part in sustainable travel for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.
“One full bus can remove up to 75 car journeys from the road, reduce overall emissions levels and help improve air quality.
“When compared to car travel we are able to offer competitive journey times through bus priority in the city.
“This makes for a smoother and more consistent journey, which also eases the congestion especially during peak times.
“We are currently working with local authorities to promote park and ride sites and encourage the public to use sustainable travel where they can.”
Councillor Peter Argyle, chairman of Nestrans, said the body was supportive of park and ride services. He said: “The team are working with partners on a dedicated park and ride website to help co-ordinate all the information in the north-east.
“Meanwhile, Nestrans are also part of the Getabout Partnership, on In Town Without My Car Day on Sunday September 15, where people can travel for free into the city centre.”