Park and ride services have begun operating from Chester’s new £13m bus interchange as workers complete construction before the facility opens properly next week.
The interchange, based at Gorse Stacks, will take all bus services from Monday (June 5) the day after the old Princess Street bus exchange shuts.
Closing the Princess Street facility will create space for a new market square as part of the proposed £300m Northgate Development retail scheme.
Hoardings will be erected around the upper area of the Princess Street site. The lower part will remain open for taxis and coaches.
A free shopper hopper, running every 15 minutes from 8am to 6pm, will link the old and new sites to ensure access is maintained to that part of the city centre including the existing market.
The new interchange, which features an environmentally-friendly sedum roof, will be open 24 hours a day and will be staffed between 6am until 11.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and 6am until 8.30pm on Sundays.
Originally it was due to open in December 2016 but was delayed partly due to repairs to a concrete slab that protects the archaeology below. In a linked project, nearby Frodsham Street has been made more pedestrian-friendly with wider pavements, seating and artwork.
The new interchange has 13 bus stands to cope with an average of 90 buses per hour – there will be limited services operating between 10pm and 6am. Information screens provide passengers with a live feed regarding arrival times.
Cheshire West and Chester Council says passenger comfort has been a priority with free Wi-Fi, public toilets and changing facilities plus an information desk.
Deals are being negotiated with a café operator to provide hot drinks and snacks and a newsagent to serve passengers.
National Express buses will also start using the Interchange from Monday (June 5) and tickets can still be purchased from the Visitor Information Centre at Town Hall Square.
Operators running services from the bus interchange will be: Arriva, Arrowebrook, Avon Buses, Aintree Coachline, D J Jones, National Express, Stagecoach and Townlynx.
A ‘where to catch my bus’ leaflet will be available in print form and on the council’s website listing all routes including park and ride buses using the bus interchange and highlighting other city centre stops.