Arriva has announced that it is to withdraw its Maidstone park & ride service, which will cease operation on the 19 February. The company said that it has worked closely with Maidstone Borough Council to try and avoid taking the action by exploring a number of options, but that a solution could not be found and the service will need to stop next year.
Before the pandemic, the service carried both commuters and leisure passengers, but with the huge reduction in commuter movements to and from the town, as well as the reduction in day trippers, Arriva said that passenger numbers have fallen significantly, which has resulted in the service no longer being financially viable.
Michael Jennings, Arriva’s Area Head of Commercial for Kent, Surrey and Essex, said: “I would like to thank all of our park & ride customers and our dedicated park & ride team who have been amazing throughout the difficult times associated with the pandemic. Myself and the rest of the team have done everything we can to keep us from having to make this difficult decision, but unfortunately it has not been possible on this occasion.”
Cllr Paul Cooper, Maidstone Borough Council Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee said: “We are very disappointed that Arriva will no longer provide this service, however we do understand how difficult it has been for Arriva with the reduction of passengers since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We know that there has been a modest increase in the number of people using the service as lockdown restrictions initially lifted. However, passengers have not returned to use the service and numbers have not met pre-pandemic levels which has made it very difficult for Arriva. We understand how hard it has been for any business trying to survive in these very unusual circumstances and one which none of us could have predicted. The Council has facilitated the park & ride service as much as we possibly could prior to and throughout Covid-19 but understands why Arriva has made the decision to withdraw the service.”