Improvements come after industry criticism – City of York Council says it “values the custom” coaches bring
Parking charges and arrangements for the York Christmas market have been revised for 2015 in response to a wave of negative feedback from operators, who had vowed to delete the city from their itineraries.
In a letter to operators, Debbie Bell, Events and Festivals Officer at City of York Council said: “We recognise the difficulties raised by some coach operators in 2014 and hope that this communication will be a step in the right direction to assist you in planning your programmes for York. Following feedback from operators and discussions with the Confederation of Passenger Transport, we have revised our pricing structure.
“Based on feedback from operators, we have revised our pricing structure for parking during the St Nicholas Christmas Festival. The rates cover the costs of the stewarding team, a meet and greet service, a booking system, additional parking provision and provision of a special drop-off/pick-up point in the city centre during the festival. However, it’s crucially important for us to take on board the views of the coaching industry and we’re working hard to strike the right balance between covering our costs and offering the fairest rates we can.”
The day rates are:
- A flat rate of £60 plus VAT for each of the four weekends of the festival – note the first ‘weekend’ begins on Thursday, November 26 through to Sunday, November 29.
- An early bird incentive flat rate fee of £50 plus VAT will apply to each of the subsequent three weekends of the festival. The early bird booking deadline is the last day of September – i.e. for December 5/6, 12/13 and 19/20.
- Visits on weekdays (except November 26 and 27) will be at York’s usual coach parking rates.
- There is no administration charge.
Debbie added: “In recent years the St Nicholas Festival has become extremely busy. To help create an even better and more comfortable experience for all of our visitors, we would like to encourage more visits for the second, third and fourth weekends. We have therefore set an early bird booking incentive.”
Looking ahead to 2016, Debbie said: “We will do our utmost (costs allowing) to fix these rates and advise you of pricing as early as we are able to.”
In terms of provision, coach parking for the St Nicholas Christmas Festival weekends must be booked in advance – pre-booking isn’t required mid-week.
A new online booking system is currently being set up – the council said it will advise as soon as it is available for bookings.
In the meantime, operators and drivers are asked to make any enquiries for this period by emailing [email protected] or by calling 01904 552270. This number is only for enquiries about the Christmas Festival only. At all other times of year, the telephone number for enquiries is 01904 551309.
Coach operators who plan to drop off guests at hotels which don’t have their own parking are asked to call 01904 552270 or email [email protected] in advance of their visit for advice on applicable fees and to book a parking place. The same advice applies for operators visiting for any other reason during the Festival period, such school group visits.
Debbie continued: “During the St Nicholas Festival there is one single central drop-off point at the Eye of York, next to York Castle Museum, which is as close to the city centre as possible. It is however, only available for the Christmas Festival by pre-booking only – it is strictly prohibited at any other time.
“The additional coach parking area is advised on booking and it is easy for drivers to get to and has plenty of facilities on site. We also offer complimentary transport for drivers, who wish to visit the Festival. Alternatively, coaches can pre-book to park at Union Terrace or St Georges Field on a first come first served basis. These coaches can drive straight there to drop off, where we will also run a meet and greet service. Drivers can then remain parked here for the duration of your visit.
“At the drop off point and at coach parks, all passengers will be met with a smile from a helpful, knowledgeable steward, who will give out maps and guides to York. Other coach drop-off points around the city centre will be temporarily suspended as using these on such a busy time can disrupt the network and block key roads to essential services like the hospital.”
Debbie concluded: “Once again we’d like to reassure you that we’re working hard to make further improvements and we thank you for your consideration and for bringing your business to York. We value the custom your business brings to York and we hope that this communication assists you in planning your itineraries and programmes. If we’ve missed anything – do let us know and we can upload any new information which you might find useful online. You can email any comments to Head of Visit York, Kate McMullen, Email [email protected].”
Of particular interest to coach drivers is that Visit York will launch its new York Pass – the city sightseeing card – on April 1. A complimentary York Pass for coach drivers to explore the city can be obtained by emailing [email protected], stating the name of the driver and the full postal address to send this to.