Paul, a Cambridgeshire resident, spoke to Cambridge Area Bus Users about the personal ramifications of cuts to bus services.
I don’t have a car so I’m totally reliant on public transport and my bike to get me around Cambridge. Over the last few years it has become increasingly unreliable, in particular over the last 6 months or so where it seems the service is teetering on the edge of collapse.
The lack of trustworthy real-time information (the information on the Stagecoach app is anything but trustworthy) makes planning journeys into the city very difficult. Though Stagecoach are not blameless, there’s only so much they can do when their buses are at a standstill surrounded by people in private cars.
A lot of people who use the bus do so out of necessity, be that through financial circumstance, poor health or young/old age. For decades they have been paying a poverty tax through unreasonably high fares, and a tax on their time thanks to the declining standards of service. A lot of drivers don’t realise that they’re only a redundancy, or an epileptic fit, or a change in their vision, away from being forced to rely on this service as well and having their ability to get around freely drastically curtailed.
How would better bus services improve my life?
By allowing me to spend my time more freely, and not having to factor in large amounts of time to offset for the chance that my journey might be disrupted by those causing congestion in the city. Less time sat in a traffic queue means more time in town doing the stuff I need to do – that’s good for businesses in the city!
I’d find the improved bus network more convenient for sure, but the biggest benefit will be for the groups of people I already mentioned. It’s about time the most disadvantaged in our society, those most likely to have to rely on the bus, caught a break, and it’s time that we recognised the impact that private car use has on the people around us.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP)’s Sustainable Travel Zone proposals would transform the bus network in Cambridgeshire, as well as reducing motor traffic by up to 50% in the Cambridge and generating funding for improved walking and cycling links. We urge you to respond to the consultation on the proposals before the deadline of 23 December 2022.