Stagecoach has unveiled plans for a £7 million park and ride scheme near the Smithton/A 96 roundabout, this would include a 400-space car park and possibly a bus depot.
Many A96 commuters traveling into Inverness from the east would welcome any positive changes, but AyeRight cannot help but think the Stagecoach plan is in the wrong place.
Currently morning traffic going into Inverness from Nairn can back up to the Balloch turn off on the A96, by the time commuters reach the Smithton roundabout I doubt many would be happy spending time parking which could add 20 – 30 minutes to their journey.
Park and ride is a good idea, but for it to work I would suggest that a site further east is needed, possibly near to the airport with dedicated bus lanes on the A96, and a car park far in excess of 400 places.
A complimentary plan would be for the reintroduction of a filter lane at the Smithon roundabout. Prior to the changes to this junction the lane worked very well, with cars from the east allowing cars queuing from Smithton onto the A96, traffic flowed much more freely than it does now. Although some drivers do still wave queuing cars onto the roundabout, this is sometimes dangerous as it is not expected at a roundabout, and it has none of the speed advantages of a filter lane.
Clearly with all the planned new housing between Nairn and Inverness transport plans need to be looked at in detail, and the likes of park and ride schemes assessed before they are built.