Strong support for proposals to transform bus network in Greater CambridgePublished: Thursday, June 16, 2022
Proposals to transform the bus network to improve the daily journeys of thousands of people across Greater Cambridge and beyond have been widely supported by the public.
Nearly four out of five respondents (78%) to the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Making Connection 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 – outlined in the findings which have been published today, Clean Air Day.
An expanded bus network could mean cheaper bus services every few minutes in Cambridge, and every ten minutes from larger towns and villages, with new hourly services for people living in rural areas, opening up greater opportunities for people across the region.
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%).
The public was asked to consider the potential options for reducing traffic levels to make the space required for additional bus services and walking and cycling routes. People were also asked about ideas for raising ongoing funding to support the significantly enhanced bus network and to invest in better walking and cycling links in the future.
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.
Cllr Elisa Meschini, Chair of the GCP’s Executive Board, said:
“It’s clear we have a real challenge in Greater Cambridge to sustainably meet the needs of our growing region in a way that keeps people moving while also cutting congestion and pollution. That’s why we put forward these proposals to give people a real choice in how they travel around while also freeing up road space for vastly improved walking, cycling and public transport services.
“I would like to thank the thousands of people who took part in this important consultation, and I look forward to discussing the findings with the Executive Board later this year to set out the next steps of the project.”
For the first time, people set out their thoughts on priorities for spending any new money raised (story continues below map).
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 consultation also gathered feedback about the potential impacts of the bus proposals and any potential charge. This included a number of workshops with specific groups, including disabled people, people on low incomes and young people.
The focus groups were largely in support of the proposals to improve the bus network, with participants highlighting the need for ensuring fairness in any plans for a road-based charge.
Alongside the consultation, a follow up workshop was held with members of the Greater Cambridge Citizens’ Assembly.
Members said frequency, consistency, and affordability were the key ingredients needed to shift people from their car to public transport.
Assembly members believe the experience of using buses had to be great, even transformational in terms of comfort and service, to ensure people use them.
They also emphasised the importance of fairness as the key consideration in the design of any charge, which would need to be structured with public transport services and active travel infrastructure to encourage people to change their travel behaviours.
The findings of the Making Connections consultation will be presented to the Joint Assembly and the Executive Board later this year to inform the next steps of the project.