A NEW contract for Chester's park and ride service has been awarded to current operator First Group.

City public transport interests are due to hear at a County Hall meeting on Wednesday (January 21) that the contract, which starts on April 1, will be operated with new, low floor, single deck buses conforming to modern emission standards.

The service, which carries over one million passengers a year, will operate seven days a week with a bus every 10 minutes at peak hours and every 15 minutes off-peak, according to transport co-ordinators.

Services will be beefed up during the Christmas shopping period and also on race days.

Councillors and passenger representatives are due to be told that following concerns about service standards over the last year or so, a series of measures has been agreed with First to achieve and maintain what is intended to be “a slick, high quality operation”.

The bus company is to appoint a dedicated park and ride supervisor who will attend regular monthly meetings to monitor progress and deal with any issues which arise.

The ruling Tory Executive at the Town Hall had a report following an evaluation of the tender and the specification which would be included in the contract to raise standards.

Councillors agreed to award the contract to First, subject to measures for dealing with failures.

The issue was also referred to the incoming Cheshire West and Chester Council which backed the city council's decision.

The service operates from four sites at Boughton Heath, Wrexham Road, Sealand Road and Upton.

A fifth site is planned on the East of the city.