Free parking in Brighton and Hove on Sundays will “clog up” the roads and threaten bus services.
That’s the warning from Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company boss Mike Best.
Last week a petition, drawn up by local Liberal Democrat member Jeremy Gale, calling for the introduction of free parking gained support from councillors.
But Mr Best said congestion was a bad enough problem on a Sunday already and offering free parking would add to the problem.
He said: “We are already finding that traffic congestion is bad on fine Sundays in particular, and to encourage more cars into the city centre will make it so much worse.
“Free parking doesn't miraculously create more parking spaces, so cars will be encouraged to drive into the city and then clog up the roads while they hunt for parking spaces.
“Bus passengers rely on buses arriving on time and roads clogged with traffic will have a serious impact on bus services.
"Buses cannot run as frequently if journey times are much longer, which can undermine the viability of routes and put pressure on bus fares.
“Brighton and Hove is not a desperate seaside town in decline that needs such initiatives to pull a few extra people in – what we have is a thriving Sunday economy that relies on the city centre being a pleasant place to walk around and shop in, not being clogged up with queuing traffic.”
Mr Gale accused the bus company of putting its own profits ahead of what is best for Brighton and Hove residents and visitors.
He said: “Given the extortionately high ticket prices charged by Brighton and Hove Bus Company, their services are unaffordable for those on low incomes.
“Our proposals of free Sunday parking would therefore help residents from all walks of life to travel freely across the city, giving them an alternative to Brighton and Hove Bus Company.
“Their objection is rather commercially based on a loss of income the bus company would see if free parking was introduced throughout the city.”
Chris Todd, from Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth, criticised the plan, saying: “These proposals from the Liberal Democrats are just plain daft.
“They are jumping on the free parking bandwagon without thinking through the consequences.
“Who is going to pay is clear. We all are. Our roads are crumbling and services for the needy and vulnerable are under severe pressure.”