PUBLIC buses have been suggested by a Labour councillor as the way to save a threatened park and ride service in Swindon.

Councillor Derique Montaut (Lab, Central) wants Thamesdown Transport buses to pick up commuters at Groundwell Park & Ride, which has been earmarked for mothballing.

Swindon Council’s cabinet has voted to temporarily close the site, saying it is too costly to keep open.

Coun Montaut said: “We can keep the car park open and redirect people on to existing public transport. This will cut the costs to the council taxpayers while preventing the traffic nightmare that will be caused by completely closing the site.

“It would also support Thamesdown Transport through these tough times while supporting the administration in delivering promise 43.”

About 800 people who use the park and ride have signed a petition organised by Spark – Save Park and Ride Kampaign – to keep the service going.

Sara Spinks, founder of Spark, believes any buses would need to operate a direct service at peak times as it would take too long to get to Swindon on normal public services otherwise.

She said: “We are broadly supportive of Coun Montaut’s suggestions provided there is still a non-stop service at peak times.

“As a commuter, normal buses take too long to get to work, particularly for users living in village areas. It would just add to journey times.”

Mothballing the Groundwell site was proposed as part of Swindon Council’s latest budget, as it would save £331,000.

Swindon Chamber of Commerce has also added its voice in criticising the council’s decision.

Swindon Council is carrying out a survey to evaluate at what level the service will keep going.

Councillors Paul Baker (Lab, Penhill) and David Glaholm (Ind, Penhill) say the decision to temporarily close the Groundwell park and ride site will lead to extra cars using Cricklade Road in the mornings.

They have written to Coun Peter Greenhalgh, the lead member for sustainability, transport and strategic planning, to vent their frustration. But he says traffic will divert elsewhere.