A TRIAL park and ride scheme set to start in the summer is in doubt after the bus company pulled out.

City residents called for the scheme during a climate assembly and Brighton and Hove Buses was set to operate a three-month trial scheme at Mill Road in Patcham.

However, the company has since pulled out - just months before it was due to start.

It is understood the proposed park and ride scheme would have been contingent on planning permission and the proposals were unlikely to be approved by the South Downs National Park Authority due to concerns about the impact on the park.

Nick Hill, commercial director for Brighton and Hove Buses and Metrobus, said: “We are disappointed that the trial is unable to take place this summer, but we will work with the city council and other partners to find a solution to the challenges to hopefully enable it to take place in the future.”

The scheme would have also required input from National Highways before it could begin, including installation of relevant signage on the A23 and A27.

A city council spokesman said: “We felt the scheme would have given the city the opportunity to assess the impact park and ride may have on car use and any changes in uptake of public transport to arrive in the city.

“It also offered a chance to better understand the implications of park and ride schemes on travel into the city, air pollution, sustainability, traffic management and car parking capacity.

“If the bus company or any other transport company wishes to propose an amended or alternative scheme, our environment, transport and sustainability committee will of course consider it in the normal way.”

Labour councillors, who had lobbied the council to back a feasibility study into the scheme, criticised the Green administration over the scrapping of the trial.

Labour’s transport and environment spokesman Councillor Gary Wilkinson said: “This is a serious failure to deliver basic services for residents and to deliver on the recommendations of the climate assembly. How can we be serious about reaching carbon net-zero by 2030 if we can’t even get on with a park and ride trial scheme?”

Green councillors had opposed a park and ride scheme for the city amid concerns that it would encourage more people to use their cars, but supporters argued people would be encouraged to park on the outskirts rather than driving into the centre of Brighton, helping reduce traffic and cut air pollution.

Cllr Wilkinson said he will be writing to the Green administration and to the chief executive of Brighton and Hove Buses on behalf of residents “who expect and deserve answers” about why the scheme was axed.