Incentives to encourage people into Perth and Kinross High Streets for Christmas shopping will be extended to include public transport.
Councillors gave the green light to open car parks free of charge on Saturdays throughout December, after traders reporting an increase in sales when the scheme was introduced last year.
Plans are being laid to offer similar incentives to public transport and cycling in future years, following complaints that free parking encouraged use of cars instead of environmentally friendly alternatives.
At Wednesday’s environment and infrastructure committee, performance and support manager Hunter Hope said: “We have a plan to reward people who travel using park and ride.
“We are in detailed talks with public transport organisations to link to reward people for travelling by sustainable transport.
“While we won’t be able to do anything this year, we will hopefully be able to offer the promotion next year.”
This was welcomed by Labour councillor Alasdair Bailey, who called for public transport incentives last year.
“We spend a lot of time and money encouraging folk out of their cars and so it always surprises me when we contradict that with a free parking offer at Christmas, however, I can see how it benefits trade.
“I welcome news that this festive cheer will be extended to bus users next year and I look forward to seeing details of what we as a council will be able to offer public transport users to also incentivise them to come and shop in our great city centre and burgh towns.”
The local authority has also pledged to make this year’s free parking promotion clearer, after 330 motorists were ticketed last December for parking in areas outwith the scheme.
Payment machines will be covered up at participating car parks, while a video will be posted on social media to let shoppers know which sites are available.
A total of 28 car parks will be included, but on-street sites at Perth’s Cherry Lane, Union Street, Black Watch Gardens and Victoria Street won’t be free.
Television, newspaper and social media adverts have also been launched to encourage people into the area during the festive season.
Perth Traders Association has said the incentive boosted local businesses, despite council reports showing a 4.5% drop in footfall.
Councillor Roz McCall said free parking will help residents during an expensive time of year.
“I think this is an excellent idea, not only to encourage people into town centres but at this time of year, when everyone is thinking about cost, I think it is excellent project to keep extra pennies in people’s pockets.”