When transformational change was within reach, our local politicians chose not to lead the way 

This statement was released to the press on 6 September. It was published as an opinion piece on CambsNews and featured in an article in the Cambridge Independent [paywall].

Our dreadful transport situation leaves people struggling to access employment, education, healthcare and social activities. For many, it makes everyday life in Cambridge unpleasant, inconvenient and unhealthy. When transformational change was within reach, our local politicians chose not to lead the way. 

There has been so much focus on the cost of road charging to drivers, that the benefits of the Making Connections proposals have gone largely unrecognised. There needed to be better communication about how much easier life would be if people could just hop on a bus to get to work, how much safer and more pleasant it would be to walk, wheel and cycle if traffic levels were lower, how much money could be saved by paying low fares on frequent buses rather than running a car, how much happier children and parents would be if children could get around independently. And how much more efficient life could be if those who chose to use a car didn’t get stuck in traffic. 

The Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance calls on those who say the Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ) proposals are unfair to consider the fairness for people who can’t or don’t want to drive: young people, those who depend on bus services, those who are forced to spend more than 20% of their income on running a car, those who care about climate change and those who would like to walk, wheel or cycle but don’t because they feel unsafe in all the traffic.

We ask those who say enough money can be found to deliver the bus services we need without road charging to present a scheme that they believe will raise enough money and have unified support.

We request those who think improved public transport will solve Cambridge’s transport crisis of its own accord to show how bus services can be reliable without reducing congestion. 

We urge those who think we can achieve net zero without reducing the use of motor vehicles to listen to the evidence about the damage that motor vehicles cause. 

Lastly, to those who say there has been insufficient exploration of different ideas, we ask you to tell us what hasn’t been covered during 30 years of local research and engagement by leaders of all the main parties. 

If the Sustainable Travel Zone proposals are not taken forwards, we urge our decision makers to get to work to put in place other schemes to reduce traffic and provide the long-term, sustainable sources of funding for public transport and active travel our region so desperately needs.