A much-missed park and ride bus service into Reading could be brought back using government grant money.

Wokingham Borough Council could officially decide next week to reinstate the Winnersh Triangle Park and Ride service. It means the service could re-start from November – though its long-term future will depend on whether running the service proves to be “commercially viable.”

A council document revealing the plans says: “The Department for Transport have recently awarded Wokingham Borough Council grant funding to support improvements to Bus Services. It is proposed to make use of a proportion of this grant funding to help re-establish the park and ride service.

“The grant funding is time limited and there is no certainty that any further funding will be provided in the future. If the bus service does not become commercially viable it will be stopped.”

The 500 service used to run every 15 minutes from Winnersh Triangle to Reading town centre. But Reading Buses suspended the service in November 2021 while construction work took place to expand the car park at Winnersh Triangle.

Yet once the car park was completed, Reading Buses said passengers would be too few to be worth putting the service back on, with passenger numbers nationally having fallen due to the pandemic and the rise in home working. And Wokingham Borough Council said it couldn’t afford to subsidise it.

Now the council has said it could use some of a £800,000 grant it received last week from the government’s department for transport to bring the service back on a trial basis. But it warns that the service could be stopped again if it doesn’t prove to be worthwhile financially.

The council document says: “The funding is time limited and no further funding is available beyond 31st March 2025. If a commercial park and ride bus service cannot be re-established at the site, the service will be stopped.”

Councillor Paul Fishwick – responsible for transport – is expected to formally sign off on the decision on Tuesday, October 24. The service would then begin towards the end of November with a Saturday-only service running every 20 minutes.

The council would then hope to extend this to a Monday to Friday service after April 2024 if passenger numbers and income allow for this.

But it says for this to happen, there has to be a “reasonable chance” that a commercial service could run beyond March 2025, as this is when the government grant funding will stop.

Councillor Fishwick’s decision next week will also include opening up a park and ride car park at Coppid Beech, which could be used by people catching the Lion4/X4 service on the A329 Reading Road.