Huge park-and-ride expansion

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A POPULAR park-and-ride site is set to quadruple in size over the next 18 months to avoid having to turn drivers away.

The facilities at Ingliston have proved more popular than expected and council chiefs are now looking to add to the existing 575 spaces.

A temporary extension to the site will add 500 new parking spaces by June and a further 1000 spaces will be added by summer next year under a 2 million expansion project.

The number of people using buses into the city centre from the site has increased five-fold since it opened in September 2005.

City leaders today said the Ingliston and nearby Hermiston sites had been the fastest growing park-and-rides in the UK in recent years.

Lothian Buses was forced to double park cars at Ingliston during the recent rail strike and council chiefs want to expand it before they have to start turning people away.

Gavin Booth, chairman of passenger group Bus Users UK, said: "Anything that encourages people to stop bringing their car into the city centre has got to be welcomed and I'm sure the extended facility will be well used.

"The Ingliston park-and-ride has done exceptionally well and even unexpectedly so because what is the norm with these things is they usually take a while to bed in.

"Edinburgh was a bit slow off the mark in terms of putting these in compared to elsewhere in the UK and I think the popularity of them shows they are well overdue.

"The one at Ingliston is particularly well located as it picks off people coming from the west and saves them the hassle of trying to get through Corstorphine or other bottlenecks into the city."

The news comes as the results of a council survey revealed that 96 per cent of drivers who leave their cars at the sites find it either very easy or easy to find a parking space.

Customers were surveyed by the council as they waited to board buses in November last year to mark the first anniversary of the opening of the Ingliston and Hermiston sites.

Eighty-four per cent said that security was excellent or good, while almost 90 per cent believed that the sites were good value for money in terms of bus fares.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, the city's transport leader, claimed the sites were the fastest growing in the UK, with a growth of 900 per cent since 2005.

He said: "The improvements at Ingliston are a significant investment and its popularity shows what a difference they have made for commuters.

"It is great to hear that people are so impressed with the park-and-ride facilities, this feedback lets us know that commuters find this service easy to use and good value for money.

"Providing as many travel options as possible is an important part of the Local Transport Strategy, which is why we are expanding this scheme.

"Park-and-rides help drivers to get into the centre of the city as quickly as possible, and also play a vital part in reducing congestion by keeping traffic flowing," he added.

Park-and-rides are a key objective for the local authority, which wants a "ring" of facilities around the Capital.

However, problems with land deals and construction has meant new delays to park and rides planned for Straiton and Sheriffhall.

Iain Coupar, Lothian Buses marketing director, welcomed news that work would start soon on extending Ingliston.

He said: "Edinburgh is ideally placed for park-and-ride to work, with main arterial roads leading from the north, west and south and good fast bus links into the city centre. It is a recipe for success."