Making Connections

Project summary

Our area is facing many pressures over the coming years:

  • Continued growth of traffic and congestion, as more people live in and travel to our area for work
  • Limited choices for people to travel by public transport
  • Poor air quality with 106 deaths each year in Greater Cambridge attributable to air pollution
  • High levels of carbon emissions due to high levels of car use, contributing to climate change
  • A city environment dominated by the car, which discourages some people from walking and cycling and makes our public spaces less attractive
  • Difficulty accessing opportunities for those who rely on public transport

The Making Connections project would help to tackle these issues. It would make public transport, cycling and walking a better choice for most people.

Making Connections proposes to significantly improve the bus network, walking and cycling, as well as reducing congestion and pollution.

A transformed bus network could offer more frequent services with longer operating hours, more rural connections and new routes into our growing employment sites.

  • Villages would benefit from an hourly bus services running during the day and into the evening.
  • Market towns and larger villages would see 6 buses an hour to Cambridge, some of which would be express services.
  • The city would see more direct services to employment sites and services would operate on at least a 10 minute frequency.
  • Faster journey times would bring more people within easy reach of workplaces, schools, hospitals and leisure facilities.
  • Lower fares would make bus travel more affordable.

The improvements would need ongoing funding as well as lower traffic levels, and the project looks at ways to do that. This could be by charging to drive in the city and/or through parking charges, including charging employers for parking spaces at workplaces, known as a Workplace Parking Levy.

The proposals aim to:

  • Reduce the time people spend in traffic
  • Help more people get to work, education, health services, green spaces and leisure
  • Reduce carbon emissions from transport
  • Free up space on the roads for walking and cycling
  • Improve air quality and reduce deaths caused by air pollution
  • Improve public health by increasing walking and cycling
  • Create space for people to enjoy our city
  • Make Greater Cambridge a more pleasant place to live, work, travel or just be

Current status

In 2021 we held a public consultation. We wanted to find out what people thought about our proposals for:

  • a new bus network,
  • better cycling and walking and
  • possible ways to pay for improvements, such as a form of road user charging or increased parking charges

The GCP Executive Board will consider the feedback in 2022. They will decide how to move the project forward.

Background

The GCP Executive Board gave the go-ahead for a public consultation at its meeting on 30 September 2021. There were three main things that we asked for feedback on:

  • A new bus network: a transformed bus network would offer more frequent services and cheaper fares, longer operating hours, more rural connections, and new routes into our growing employment sites. See the new bus network map [link or direct to image] for how new and more direct routes could help your journey.
  • Better cycling and walking routes and high-quality public spaces: less traffic would mean more opportunities to improve routes for people cycling and walking. It would also help to improve air quality and make more opportunities to provide high quality public spaces for people to enjoy.
  • Funding transport improvements: there are two main ways to free up road space and raise money to invest in better bus services and more cycling and walking infrastructure – a road charging zone, or additional parking charges.

Any money raised through charges would be ringfenced for investment in sustainable transport improvements:

 

Bus routes that could be put in place in the future

A road user charging zone would charge vehicles for driving within a set area. There are two main forms of road charging that would lower traffic levels, reduce pollution and create a funding stream for sustainable transport improvements:

  • A pollution-based charge for road use based on vehicle emissions. Cars, vans and other vehicles that did not meet a set emissions standard would be charged to drive within an area.
  • A flexible charge for road use which would charge all private vehicles, such as cars and vans, to drive within an area potentially varied by time of day or day of week.

Parking charges are currently applied in off-street car parks and on some streets. Additional changes could include applying higher charges to existing car parking, applying charges to more streets and introducing a Workplace Parking Levy. A Workplace Parking Levy is a yearly fee charged to businesses per parking space at business premises. Businesses can choose whether to pass on the cost of the charge to employees, reduce/remove their parking spaces or absorb the cost themselves.

The consultation ran in late 2021. Information about the consultation is on our ConsultCambs engagement and consultation platform at Making Connections - have your say on greener travel in Greater Cambridge.

Consultation feedback published

The consultation feedback has been analysed and is published below. We’ve also published reports of a workshop held with members of the Greater Cambridge Citizens’ Assembly, as well as focus groups with disabled people, people on low incomes, and young people.

This feedback will be presented to the Joint Assembly and Executive Board later this year to inform the next steps on the project.

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Headlines

The main headlines from the analysis of the consultation feedback are as follows:

  • Nearly four out of five respondents (78%) to the consultation supported the bold plans to create a first-class bus network with cheaper, faster, more frequent and reliable services to more communities.
  • There was also strong support (71%) for the overall aims of the proposals – reducing carbon emissions, tackling pollution and congestion, and improving public transport.
  • People backed the idea of reducing traffic to improve walking and cycling options (68%), as well as reducing traffic levels to improve public spaces (52%).
  • Options that involved charging cars for driving in an area, such as a flexible or pollution charge, were preferred to options involving additional or new parking charges.
  • There was a preference for a lower charge covering a larger area, and a small majority in favour of peak-time only charging.
  • For the first time, people set out their thoughts on priorities for spending any new money raised. More frequent bus services (27%), cheaper fares (19%), longer operating hours (16%) – with bus services running from 5am until midnight – and more direct services to the city (15%) were the top factors people would want to see as part of any investment in the bus network.
  • Introducing flat-fares (32%) or lower fares for everyone across the region (31%) were the most popular choices to make public transport more affordable for everyone.

The full analysis report can be found below

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