DRIVERS are being priced out of city car parks, according to commuters.
And one worker who lives in Exeter has taken to driving to the outskirts of the city and getting the train back in again because it's cheaper to park.
Matthew Powell, who works in an office which overlooks Howell Road car park, used to park there until the price nearly doubled at the beginning of the year.
He now finds it cheaper to drive to Digby train station and leave his car there.
Mr Powell said: "I am travelling the same distance I used to – but in the opposite direction. I drive to Digby station where I park free and the train costs about £3 per day."
Daily car parking in Howell Road is £10.80.
Mr Powell said: "It is less convenient and adds about three quarters of an hour to my journey to work, but I am not prepared to pay the car parking prices.
"But to see it sitting empty every day is galling."
Percy Prowse, city councillor for Duryard, said the car park in Howell Road was once virtually full but is now two thirds empty each day.
Cllr Prowse said: "Lots of empty spaces show that we have got the pricing structure wrong. "We should be offering incentives to get shoppers back into the city using our car parks.
"In Southport the first hour of parking is free."
Mr Powell added: "It is fine for me to use park and ride in this way, but this was the main car park for people coming into work from the Crediton area and there is no park and ride on that side of the city.
"The city council says it is trying to attract shoppers to this car park, but it is not one shoppers would use."
Cllr Prowse added: "Clearly the Howell Road car park is not attractive to shoppers – it is not the easiest to find."
The city council says it is continuing to monitor how many vehicles use the car park.
A spokesman said: "We are monitoring the usage of Howell Road car park and are considering ways of increasing shoppers' awareness of the car park, as historically it has always been full of long-stay commuters and therefore unavailable to those wishing to find a convenient parking place for shopping.
"Anecdotal evidence suggests commuters are now making use of the more appropriate long stay car parks, which is what we hoped to achieve and this is something we will continue to monitor."