Newbury ditches free Christmas car parking for free bus travel

In one of the first positive moves by a local council in recent times to attempt to drive modal shift, reduce congestion and improve air quality, in conjunction with Reading Buses, West Berkshire Council is offering free bus travel on two Saturdays.

It is the fruit of work by the operator with West Berkshire Council around the negative impact that offering free parking in the run-up to Christmas has on bus usage, the environment and traffic congestion.

The unitary authority covers Newbury, Bradfield, Hungerford and Wantage. Newbury is the principle town and major draw for shoppers in the area

Instead of free parking, this year all bus journeys starting in West Berkshire will be completely free of charge on Saturdays 11 and 18 December.

The offer will apply to any destination, but return journeys that start outside the council area will be subject to normal (single) fares.

When created in 1997, the council was under Liberal Democrat control, switching to Conservative in 2005. The party lost seats at the 2019 local elections but retained control. However the Lib Dems made significant gains (winning an extra 12 seats) while the Greens won their first 3 seats on the council. Combined, they hold 19 of the 43 seats.

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