BUSES departing from park and ride sites in Swansea are to offer extra drop-off venues, including the Guildhall and Singleton Hospital.
Council chiefs hope the new arrangements will persuade more commuters to leave their cars at the Fabian Way and Landore depots and travel into the city by bus.
A commercial company has been chosen to operate a new five-year contract, which will cut council costs from the current £431,000 per year to £265,000.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting, where the contract was approved, Councillor Mark Thomas said: “Hopefully we will get fewer cars in the city centre. That is key as the city grows.”
The Fabian Way buses will serve Swansea University’s Singleton and Bay campuses, plus the Civic Centre, Guildhall and Singleton Hospital.
The main city centre stop-off will be the Quadrant bus station, with peak journeys also stopping at Princess Way.
The Landore buses will serve Morriston Hospital and the current city centre stop-offs. One of the Landore services will come via Neath and Swansea Enterprise Park, but the other service will start and finish at the Landore site.
Cllr Thomas said the existing 15-minute frequency for both routes would not change, and passengers would still pay £2.50 for a car and up to four passengers to go to the city centre.
Passengers who want to travel to the new stop-offs would have to pay extra on the bus.
City centre worker Shan Griffiths, of Ynysmeudwy, near Pontardawe, has been using the Landore park and ride for 14 years and said she would be worried about any changes to the service.
“It’s okay as it is,” she said. “I wouldn’t dream of bringing my car into town.”
She said she and others had heard that new arrangements were being discussed, but felt information about them had been lacking.
“There should be something up there at the park and ride telling people what’s going on,” she said.
Mrs Griffiths said ticket prices, car par security, and bus frequency were key considerations for passengers.
The current contract expires on June 16. The council and the new operator will be advertising the changes in the coming weeks.
The council will also pay £30,000 for new park and ride livery on the buses, but will save money by not having a staff presence at the two sites during the day. There will be a security presence in the evenings only.
In addition, the opening hours of the terminal building will be reduced.
Cllr Thomas said council officers had renegotiated with the bus operator after its first offer was turned down.
“Unfortunately, in a way, only one (company) tender was received,” he said.
The cabinet member for environment and infrastructure said the new contract would take three or four park and ride buses, which cover some 80,000 miles per year, off the road.
“They use a lot of diesel,” he said.
Facts and figures
LANDORE and Fabian Way park and ride depots have 550 spaces each, and are open from 6.45am to 7.30pm Monday to Saturday.
Buses operate every 15 minutes, and passengers can pay with special cards which are scanned at parking machines at the park and ride sites.
The Landore bus stop-offs are High Street railway station, Orchard Street, The Kingsway, Quadrant bus station, Caer Street and High Street.
The Fabian Way buses stop at Fabian Way – opposite The Cape Horner – Princess Way, and St Mary’s Square bus stop.
There used to be a third park and ride site at Fforestfach, but it was closed.