The first bus won’t leave McDonald Jones Stadium until Monday, but there has been a strong uptake of the new park and ride service between Broadmeadow and Newcastle CBD.
More than half the available spots have been booked during the first day of registrations, after plans for the 12 month trial were announced on Wednesday.
But the Newcastle Herald can reveal that discussions are taking place for a further 300 car parks to be used for the service after the initial spaces are booked.
From Monday, city workers will be able to park at the stadium and catch one of nine free buses into the CBD, which will leave every 15 minutes between 6.30am and 8.30am on weekdays.
The buses will drop commuters on King Street outside Markettown, at Civic, at the intersection of King and Perkins streets and at Customs House.
The return journey will pick up passengers from these stops and ferry them back to Broadmeadow every 15 minutes between 4.30pm and 6pm.
It will be free until January 29, when a $2 per day parking fee will be brought in.
Newcastle council interim chief executive officer Jeremy Bath told the Herald that the response to the plan had been “incredible”.
“Based on the strong support for the park and ride, we have started discussions about expanding the service to include parking at the Newcastle Showground in 2018,” he said.
“This would double the size of the number of commuters that can use the park and ride service, allowing more than 600 all-day car spaces to be freed up for people to shop and undertake business in the city.”
The initiative is expected to reduce CBD traffic congestion and save workers as much as $1400 a year on parking.
Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes welcomed the announcement by Newcastle council, Transport for NSW, Newcastle Transport, Hunter Development Corporation and Venues NSW.
“Being able to park at McDonald Jones Stadium and board a bus into the city will free up parking spaces for shoppers and visitors,” he said.
“This is great for business and we would encourage people to use this service, which has the potential to expand adopting something similar in other areas.”
State Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery congratulated council on driving the initiative, but said it should be expanded to include John Hunter Hospital and the University of Newcastle campus at Callaghan.
Commuters have to register to use the service, either online at newcastle.nsw.gov.au/parkandride or by calling council on 4974 2000.