TICKET TO RIDE: Elfyn Love, bus driver Tim Eichler, Josie Baker and Joel Salon jump on board the Magic Bus for the launch of the Byron Shire Council Park and Ride Project at the Byron Sports and Cultural Centre yesterday.
TICKET TO RIDE: Elfyn Love, bus driver Tim Eichler, Josie Baker and Joel Salon jump on board the Magic Bus for the launch of the Byron Shire Council Park and Ride Project at the Byron Sports and Cultural Centre yesterday. Leah White

Even Mayor says Park & Ride trial "fraught with frustration"

PARKING exemption coupons for Byron Bay locals have proved almost as elusive as car parks themselves, with hundreds of residents claiming they never received their coupons in the mail.

The coupons are part of the council's Park and Ride scheme, designed to ease the traffic burden in town by providing a cheap, all-day parking alternative outside of town, with a free shuttle bus.

The scheme also involves implementing parking restrictions, which will be in place until January 1.

The restrictions will limit parking to two hours in the Special Event Parking Areas, from east of the Belongil Bridge to south of Red Devils, except in areas already subject to timed restrictions.

To ease the burden on locals, all Byron Shire residents should by last week have received two permits in their letterbox exempting them from the Special Event Parking Area restrictions.

Byron Mayor Simon Richardson said what was supposed to be the easiest part of the scheme had become "fraught" with frustration.

He said the council had originally intended to use Australia Post, however they were told the service could only deliver to Bangalow and a private brochure distributor was employed instead.

"The firm that we used said they had delivered them, and yet we've got some areas where whole streets haven't received them," he said.

"We're waiting to see today and tomorrow just the level of actual non-existence of the coupons and then we'll take it from there, but clearly that needed to have been done better and it's a bit frustrating."

Cr Richardson said he was unaware which distributor had been used, or what the cost had been, but more information would become available in the next few weeks.

He said local residents who receive a fine can apply for an exemption, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

"Ultimately, if a local person has not got a coupon and is parking somewhere where they have always normally parked, we won't be fining them," Cr Richardson said.

On-the-spot fines of between $236 and $2200 will apply to anyone who overstays the two-hour limit without a parking permit or coupon.

An average of three buses per hour will run to and from the surf club at Main Beach in town from 10am to 10pm, with all-day parking at the Byron Sport and Cultural Complex for $5.

Cr Richardson said the 12-day trial would be a learning curve for the council.

"The thing about a trial is that you don't know what's going to happen. What we do know is that we have to do something about the traffic, so doing nothing isn't really an option," he said.



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