Former users of the Winnersh Triangle park and ride service will have to walk nearly half a mile beside a busy dual carriageway if they want to get the bus to Reading, a leading councillor has said.

Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Fishwick was made to answer questions on the future of the service at a Wokingham Borough Council meeting last Thursday, May 18.

It followed news that Reading Buses, which ran the service, had no plans to reinstate it without further funding from the council.

The former 500 service used to run from Winnersh Triangle Train Station to Reading town centre.

Reading Buses suspended the service in 2021 while the council added a second deck to its car park. But with construction complete, the company now says it “lacks the means” to bring the service back, citing 'low demand'.

Cllr Fishwick, the council’s executive member for active travel, transport and highways said choosing whether to operate the service would be “a commercial decision” for Reading Buses.

But, he added, residents could still park in the lower half of the car park and walk to Reading Road for the Lion 4 and X4 buses instead. He said this service was “frequent,” and the distance from Winnersh Triangle just “a shortish walk.”

READ MORE: Wokingham council ‘can’t afford’ Winnersh Triangle park and ride

But Heather Howarth, 71 of Lodge Road, Hurst, said the Lion bus stop was “a long way from the car park,” when she questioned Cllr Fishwick at the meeting.

According to directions on Google Maps, the walk would involve travelling up to 644 metres to either of two bus stops.

One is beside the A390 and A39 dual carriageways, navigating at least two busy pedestrian crossing points.

Another, at Cavendish Gardens, can be accessed through a quieter route, but is a similar distance from the car park and some 322 metres from the train station.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mrs Howarth argued it wasn’t accessible to disabled or older bus service users. “My friend who I used to get the bus with is disabled,” she said. “That’s far too far for her to walk.”

Wokingham Borough Council has spent at least £6.8 million on expanding the park and ride car park. In his answer, Cllr Fishwick said the current Liberal Democrat-led council had “inherited” the expansion project after the Conservatives began it.

He said that there had been “sufficient demand” for more spaces in 2017, when the then Conservative-run council decided to fund the expansion. He also said it had been “financially sensible” to complete the construction when the Liberal Democrats took over.

But he added there had been “a significant decline” in the use of park and ride services nationwide. And he said the car park’s new second deck would stay closed “until demand in the lower part increases.”

Mrs Howarth told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Of course no one wanted to use the bus service during Covid. They just haven’t given us enough time to show that we’ll still use it.”

  • This article was updated to add that the Lion 4/X4 service stops at Cavendish Gardens.