Northern Ireland

Translink calls for an end to free Christmas parking

Image caption Translink said last year's free parking initiative disrupted bus services

Translink is asking for an end to free Christmas parking in Belfast.

It says last year's council initiative to entice more shoppers, increased traffic congestion and disrupted bus services.

Instead, Translink and the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) are offering alternative ideas, including reducing bus and train fares.

Their proposals for Christmas 2016 are to be considered by a Belfast City Council committee on Wednesday.

In 2015, the council, for the first time in several years, offered free parking for 1,500 vehicles in the evenings and at weekends.

However, Translink considered the move "counterproductive" - it says it increased congestion as people queued or circled the city centre looking for no cost parking.

It said the knock-on impact reduced the punctuality and reliability of its bus services.

As an alternative this year, it says it is prepared to run fare reduction offers on buses and trains during the month of December.

It said it will also extend the opening hours at park and ride facilities.

In a statement, Translink said: "Planning for Christmas parking and traffic are part of the discussions we have each year with Belfast City Council and other partners to help keep Belfast moving during this extremely busy period."

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