‘Use it or lose it’ message as future of 19 Cambs bus services reviewed
People have been urged to use an at-risk bus service or potentially face losing it as the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority considers the future of the bus routes it helps to fund. The 29 bus service which runs between Hampton and Peterborough City Hospital faces an uncertain future as it costs over £70 per passenger to run and has had a “very limited” take up.
The service is one of 19 subsidised by the Combined Authority that underwent a further review. Most of the services looked at are proposed to be kept with some changes, but the authority has said further engagement is still required for the number 29. A report detailing the outcome of the review was presented to members of the Combined Authority’s transport and infrastructure committee at a meeting this week (November 15).
Councillor Gavin Elsey said the authority needed to communicate to people in Hampton that they need to either “use it or lose it”. He said the passenger cost of £74.71 per passenger to run the number 29 service was “unsustainable”. The other 18 reviewed services are proposed to be retained, but with some changes, for example, the 7A bus that runs between Duxford and Whittlesford, which costs £124.83 per passenger, is proposed to be merged with a home-to-school service to make it more cost-effective.
Councillor Neil Shailer said it was “wonderful” the review looked not only at the cost of the services but also considered how they benefit communities. He said the Combined Authority was currently in a “rescue stage” trying to “patch the problems” in the bus network. He said he hoped in the future the authority would be able to make a system that did “not have to be rescued again”.
Other councillors highlighted specific services near them included in the review. Councillor Peter McDonald said the number 18 service from Newmarket to Newmarket Road Park and Ride only ran twice a week, which he claimed was “like something out of the 18th century”. He asked if this service could be looked at again.
Councillor Lara Davenport-Ray said she wanted to highlight the Ting service which is proposed to be retained. She said it was “not perfect”, but said the value of the service to people was high, adding that she believed it was currently operating at maximum capacity. The committee voted to recommend for the Combined Authority Board to approve the proposals for the future of the bus services. The Board is next due to meet later this month on November 29.
Full breakdown of the 19 reviewed bus services
7A: Duxford - Whittlesford - Sawston - Whittlesford - Duxford
Cost per passenger £124.83. Recommended to be retained with improvement through merging with a home to school service to provide a “more cost effective solution”.
8A: Cottenham - Chatteris - March
Cost per passenger £76.35. Recommended to be retained with improvement, but providing “significantly improved” interchange at the Milton Park and Ride to try and “drive additional demand”.
29: Peterborough City Hospital - Hampton
Cost per passenger £74.71. Recommendation that further engagement is required, due to “very limited take-up”. Report said there should be a review as to whether the service should end.
15: Over - St Ives
Cost per passenger £59.41. Recommended to be retained with improvement, including being extended to serve Willingham, with a further review proposed to be undertaken to look at options to link up with other services.
31: Cambridge - Fowlmere - Barley
Cost per passenger £41.56. Recommended to be retained with improvement, proposed to be “recast with revised frequency, [and] better integration” with the 26 service.
75: Cambridge - Orwell - Wrestlingworth
Cost per passenger £20.36. Recommended to be retained with improvement, proposed to be “recast with revised frequency, [and] better integration” with the 26 service.
18: Newmarket - Fulbourn - Teversham - Newmarket Road Park and Ride
Cost per passenger £40.52. Recommended to retain the Tuesday service, as the report said the passenger levels have not recovered following Covid.
65: St Neots - The Offords - Buckden
Cost per passenger £19.99. Recommended to be retained with improvement, including a potential further connection to the Buckden GP to try and increase demand for the service.
Ting: West Huntingdonshire Demand Responsive Transport
Cost per passenger £42.31. Recommended to be retained, but refocused to limit the potential for journeys to start and end in St Neots. This is proposed in order to try and remove duplication with scheduled bus services and increase the availability of Ting for people in rural areas.
301: St Ives - Somersham - Ramsey
Cost per passenger £31.58. Recommended to be retained as it is.
305: Huntingdon - Ramsey - Chatteris
Cost per passenger £13.34. Recommended to be retained with increased frequency and journey time.
150: St Neots - Kimbolton - Tilbrook
Cost per passenger £15.26. Recommended to be retained, but with further work planned in the future. The Combined Authority has said it hopes changes to the Ting service will increase demand for the 150.
22A (300): St Ives Town Service
Cost per passenger £22.11. Recommended to be retained after a recent increase in passengers after a change to the commercial network. It is proposed to be kept under review to monitor that the increased demand is retained.
415: Peterborough - Upwood
Cost per passenger £20.49. Recommended to be retained, but plans to look at changing it to a dial-a-ride service.
33A: March Town Service
Cost per passenger £18.48. Recommended to be retained, due to the cost per passenger recently decreasing below the £12 benchmark after it was taken over by a new operator. There are still plans to look at whether the service can be improved to better align with the railways station in March.
17: Royston - Bassingbourn - Guilden Morden
Cost per passenger £18.44. Recommended to be retained, but with revised times to try and align better with the 26 bus service.
12: Newmarket - Fordham - Soham - Stuntney - Ely
Cost per passenger £15.11. Recommended to be retained, but to be kept under review.
19: Haverhill - Linton - Burrough Green
Cost per passenger £14.56. Recommended to be retained due to it “performing reasonably well” by offering access to jobs and services. It is proposed to look at ways to better integrate the service with other cross boundary services into Newmarket.
61: Eynesbury - St Neots - Eaton Ford/Eaton Socon - St Neots - Eynesbury
Cost per passenger £13.40. Recommended to be retained after changes made by a new operator have “significantly” reduced the cost per passenger to now being below the £12 benchmark set by the Combined Authority.
- ^ Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (www.cambridge-news.co.uk)
- ^ Peterborough City Hospital (www.cambridge-news.co.uk)
- ^ transport and infrastructure committee (cambridgeshirepeterboroughcagov.cmis.uk.com)
- ^ Mayor's plan for 'modern transport system' in Cambridgeshire to face new vote after setbacks (www.cambridge-news.co.uk)
- ^ Disruption expected on railway lines through Cambridgeshire due to vital signalling work (www.cambridge-news.co.uk)
- ^ Newmarket (www.cambridge-news.co.uk)