Making Connections: revised proposals to keep Cambridge moving

Published 25 August 2023

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Making Connections - 6

New proposals for the road user charge following public consultation

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has today announced a revised package of measures – having listened to, and acted on, feedback from the extensive public consultation on the proposed Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ).

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Key amendments include:

  • peak time only charging – with six hours charge time instead of 12
  • 50 free days for car users,
  • 50 per cent discount for locally owned SMEs
  • low-income discounts
  • further hospital exemptions
  • no charge for motorcyclists.
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The STZ aims to make travelling in and around Cambridge simpler and faster by saving time and money; easing congestion and offering better, fairer and greener travel choices. New, cheaper and better bus services will provide a long term, reliable and secure service for the people of Cambridge, and will be in place – along with improved infrastructure to make walking, cycling and scooting more attractive and safer – before road charging begins. Bus service hours will be longer and single journeys in Cambridge/Cambridgeshire will be reduced to a flat fare of £1/£2 from 2024. 30 electric buses have already been introduced with more to come.

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Park and Ride sites will all be outside the STZ. Capacity will be doubled and the sites expanded into ‘Travel Hubs’ – offering better walking and cycling provision as well as more electric vehicle charging points, better bus connectivity, access to car clubs, e-scooter hire and secure bike parking. Further funding to maintain and develop the sustainable travel network will be raised through the proposed STZ road user charge.

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Last year’s consultation on the proposed STZ revealed that seven out of ten people wanted cheaper, greener and healthier ways to get around Greater Cambridge. 70% of respondents were in favour of the future transport network: more buses to more locations, cheaper fares and longer operating times supported by better walking and cycling infrastructure to give people faster, cheaper and more reliable travel alternatives to the car.

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58% of respondents opposed the original proposed STZ as the means for delivering the transport vision, with around half of those opposing still supporting the vision for better buses. As a result, the GCP has listened to the public’s feedback to the Making Connections consultation and, following discussions with the Joint Assembly, has revised its original proposals.

Revised proposals

The STZ charge - £5 for cars, £10 for vans and £50 for HGVs and coaches – remains the same, but the GCP’s amended proposals will reduce the charge’s impact on people who live and work in Cambridge:

  • Weekday peak hour charging between 0700-1000 and 1500-1800 only. Moving to peak time restricts charging to the times of day when traffic is heaviest (therefore maintaining maximum impact in terms of creating road space and reducing congestion). This allows greater freedom for people to move around, and, for example, deliveries to be received in the middle of the day. Peak time charging also substantially reduces the impact on small businesses and the self-employed.
  • The charging period will end earlier at 1800 (instead of 1900) to allow evening social, caring and leisure activities.
  • 50 free days. Whether for a weekly big shop, early morning appointment or days grouped together for hospital visits. These free days for private car users are fair to all - giving everyone a chance to use their car without charge on the occasions they really need it.
  • Locally owned SME discount of 50 per cent on heavy goods vehicles (HGV) and vans (LGV) to support local businesses who rely on vehicles to trade.
  • Low-income discounts of 50 percent to make the STZ fair to those on lower incomes who rely on their cars.
  • Exemptions for most people who need to go to hospital by car - matching the parking allowances that the hospitals make for patients, visitors and staff - and for anyone in receipt of carers benefit and mobility PIP.
  • There will be no charge for motorbikes, (originally to pay £5 a day charge).
STZ schematic

Rachel Stopard, chief executive, Greater Cambridge Partnership, said:

We have listened to people’s concerns and feedback during the consultation and taken action by revising our proposals. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to future proof our public transport network and reduce our dependency on the car by creating a low cost, secure, reliable and viable option for residents, workers, students and visitors who want to quickly and easily get around our beautiful city. We simply cannot afford to do nothing – the growth of our city’s economy means that we need to urgently solve the problem of congestion that blights our roads.”

“Greater Cambridge needs to tackle the congested roads, fund more electric buses and new, reliable and cheaper services. Although the updated measures are not the preferred option that we presented originally, we believe that the revised proposal is fair to everybody – those on a low income, small businesses, families, people accessing healthcare and workers and residents who simply want to travel around Cambridge without being stuck in congestion. We aim to provide a cleaner, greener and healthier future for all.”

Eilish Midlane, CEO at Royal Papworth Hospital and Mike More, Chair at Cambridge University Hospital, said:

“We recognise the importance of addressing congestion and improving public transport in Cambridge, in particular the health benefits this can bring.

“As hospitals on the biomedical campus which are included in the sustainable travel zone (STZ), we welcome the further discussions we have had with the Greater Cambridge Partnership, where we have been able to directly voice feedback from our staff, volunteers, patients and visitors.

“The revised proposals relating to the STZ are a positive step forwards, recognising the reliance of some patients on their cars for travelling to hospital and the need to be able to recruit and retain healthcare staff to deliver our services.

“We continue to engage with the GCP as the proposals are subject to discussion of details.”

Silviya Barrett from Campaign for Better Transport said:

"We're pleased that plans are progressing in Cambridge, which will give residents and visitors the ability to travel more sustainably.

“The vision of the team, guided by the consultation responses received, will help expand and improve the bus network. If we are to get to anywhere near our legally mandated net zero targets, shifting people from cars to public transport, walking and cycling is of critical importance – and these plans will seek to do just that."

Anthony Painter of Cambridgeshire Parents for Sustainable Travel said:

"As parents, we want a fair, safe and healthy city - these proposals are a big step in the right direction. The current situation - woeful public transport and a congested, polluted city - will only get worse as the city grows rapidly. Enough is enough, it is time for action.

These proposals help provide affordable options whether you travel by car, bike or bus. There will be better access to schools and colleges for kids and young people in and around Cambridge.

What's important is that everyone has been listened to in the consultation process and substantial changes have been made. A future without sustainable travel will be worse for the city and those who travel into it. We ask our political leaders to act now to secure a fairer, greener city for both current and future generations.”

For more information, download the Keep Cambridge Moving brochure.

Keeping Greater Cambridge Moving