A FREE park-and-ride shuttle bus service which links Hunter Stadium with John Hunter Hospital is to be scrapped in preparation of the opening of an additional 740 car park spaces.
The shuttle was introduced to ease parking pressures around the hospital and has been popular with staff, patients and visitors for years.
But Hunter New England Health chief executive Michael DiRienzo said the service was making a number of changes to car parking at the site, including adding more spaces as part of a multimillion-dollar plan to improve access around the hospital.
‘‘John Hunter Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in the state and, with so many people visiting it every day, we wanted to ensure that parking is as convenient as possible,’’ Mr DiRienzo said.
‘‘We’ve assessed the demand and are investing more than $10million to increase the number of spaces, aiming to relieve this pressure and make parking more convenient for patients and visitors.’’
The Newcastle Herald first reported the multimillion-dollar plan in June last year.
Mr DiRienzo said with the opening of the additional parking in August, the resources used to run the shuttle service and a campus bus, which transports staff to their cars at the end of their shift, would be redirected into clinical services. Both bus services will end on September 4.
‘‘With the capacity created by the extra parking on campus, we think this is the best use of our finite resources,’’ Mr DiRienzo said.
‘‘The shuttle bus provided a good service to local people when parking on the campus was limited and we understand that some patients, visitors and staff will be disappointed when it ceases.’’
Mr DiRienzo said the campus service would be cut because staff parking is being relocated closer to the hospital and to an area with more lighting.
Hunter New England Health’s manager of capital works Brett Evans said general parking fees would remain the same, but a number of other changes will be made.
‘‘There will be more parents with prams parking and the main visitor car park will become fully automated, meaning patients and visitors will pay for their parking before getting into their car,’’ Mr Evans said.
‘‘A pay and display system will also be introduced in car park 6.’’