Published: 08:44, 22 July 2021
| Updated: 15:55, 22 July 2021
A shortage of drivers as a result of the so-called 'pingdemic' has led to a pilot park and ride scheme being suspended.
The service launched in Folkestone in June and saw people parking at the Motis Business Centre in Cheriton before being transported to the harbour via Folkestone Central train station.
Shuttles were running every 30 minutes over the weekends, with a cost of £5 to park for the day.
It was hoped it would alleviate parking issues near the seafront which come from an influx of visitors to the town over the summer months.
The park and ride scheme was set up between Folkestone and Hythe District Council(FHDC) and Stagecoach.
However, a lack of drivers means it has now been halted, so that the bus firm can concentrate on its standard routes through the district.
Stagecoach confirmed Covid-19 is "a significant part of the problem", mainly as a result of the Test and Trace obligation to self-isolate.
Also, like many other businesses, the company is experiencing staff shortages for variety of other reasons at this time.
The council says the number of people using the service was low, too.
The service was suspended last Sunday.
FHDC’s cabinet member for housing, transport and special projects Cllr David Godfrey admitted he was disappointed, saying: "We introduced park and ride as a pilot scheme to assess demand.
"Usage hadn’t been high, but until last weekend, the weather wasn’t that good and schools are only just breaking up.
“However, we do understand the position of Stagecoach and we can’t allow it to detract from regular services for our residents.
"I am hopeful that the suspension is temporary and that we can recommence the trial as soon as practically possible."
It had been planned that the pilot, which was supported by the Government’s Welcome Back funding, would become a daily service from this week and continue throughout the summer holidays.
A Stagecoach spokesman said: “It's disappointing that so few people used the service since it started in early June.
"We've agreed with the council to suspend the pilot scheme for the time being and focus our resources on delivering our core bus services in and around the town.
“At a time when Covid-19 is impacting the shape of transport networks, we need to make the best use of resources to ensure the widest benefit for the community."