Parking machines are set to be removed in December at Essex park and ride car parks to save expenditure.
Essex County Council (ECC) estimates it will avoid having to pay £36,000 to replace the machines and annual ongoing savings of £7,000 per year.
In the meantime parking is being made free at both Chelmsford park and ride sites until October.
Essex County Council’s Park & Ride services recommenced operations from Monday, July 6, initially to a reduced timetable and only from the Sandon site in Chelmsford, and the Colchester site at junction 28 of the A12.
The two sites will provide services between 7am and 7pm Monday to Saturday, but passengers are advised to check the website or social media before traveling for any updates or changes, which could occur due to essential operation reasons.
The Chelmer Valley Site in Chelmsford, was used to house an unused temporary mortuary during Covid-19, will not provide services at the current time.
However, it will become operational on August 1 when the necessary preparations have been made and it is safe to reopen the site.
ECC has said introducing a parking charge, discounted by 100 per cent for the first two months, at the Chelmsford sites will bring it in line with the Colchester site and realise potential revenue in the longer term.
Once the 100 per cent discount expires, a £3 charge for all day parking only will be levied via the Mi Permit App, a digital car parking payment scheme. The Mi Permit App can be downloaded onto any smart phone for free.
ECC adds that removing the ticket machines from both Chelmsford sites as they reach their end of life from December 2020 will reduce ongoing costs at the park and ride sites.
In order to maintain social distancing customers are encouraged to use the app, but could still use cash or contactless cards to purchase tickets on the bus.
Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Councillor Kevin Bentley, said: “We have worked hard to ensure that the temporary closure of our park and ride services due to COVID-19 restrictions were kept to a minimum. T
“he services are valued, high quality and sustainable public transport that help to reduce congestion and contribute to a cleaner environment in line with our Green Infrastructure Strategy.”
ECC says by opening the park and ride sites as ‘Park and Pedal’, plus a phased return to pre-Covid-19 frequency bus service from 6 July to 1 January, would allow drivers to park and cycle from the sites into the town and city centres, hospitals and business parks.
A statement associated with a cabinet decision said: “In order to encourage this behavioural change, it is recommended that park and pedal should be discounted by 100 per cent for the first two months. Residents will have a park and ride service but while the social distancing guidance is in place the maximum number of passengers allowed to use each bus service is reduced. The phased return will also mean a reduced number of bus services will be provided. Initially a 20-minute frequency service will be provided, and passenger usage will be monitored daily.
“As passenger usage increases additional bus services will be provided to ensure passengers can safely social distance on the vehicle.
“Both cycling and bus will reduce the amount of traffic travelling into the town and city centres.”