Travel alliance welcomes major expansion of electric bus fleet in Cambridgeshire

The Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance (CSTA) was delighted to attend the launch today of Cambridge’s 30 new electric buses at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. We congratulate Stagecoach, the Greater Cambridge Partnership and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority on their joint achievement. 

The CSTA believes that transport should be fit for the future. Everyone should be able to choose travel choices that protect the lives of others and the precious world we live in. We are therefore pleased that these fully battery electric vehicles, with zero tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, will entirely replace diesel buses on the Cambridge Park and Ride network and Citi 2 service. Transport accounts for around 20% of carbon emissions in Cambridge city, so changes such as these are vital if the region is to meet its net zero targets.

There is also no safe level of air pollution. Since these state-of-the-art buses will have zero tailpipe emissions of oxides of nitrogen and particulates, they will make a valuable contribution to improving air quality in the city centre and residential streets.

In urban areas, substantial modal shift away from the car is needed to keep our congested cities moving. One double decker bus has the capacity to replace 75 single occupancy car journeys from our roads, so we need more people to choose the bus. These electric buses will provide quieter and smoother journeys, upgrading people’s perception of bus travel and making the bus an even more attractive choice.

Richard Wood, Secretary of Cambridge Area Bus Users, one of the founder organisations of the Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance, said:

“Buses are vital to ensuring the economy meets Net Zero carbon emissions and driving the green transformation, so it’s great to see these super-clean, modern, more attractive electric buses arrive in Cambridge. People cannot choose to use the bus, however, if no service is provided. We note that the venue chosen for the grand unveiling of the 30 electric buses – Imperial War Museum, Duxford –  is no longer served by regular Stagecoach services. This effectively demonstrates the requirement for investment in improved bus services and the urgent need to reverse the declines of the past.”

Meeting the UK’s Net Zero carbon emission targets cannot rely on farebox revenue alone. As the CSTA made clear in the group’s response to the Making Connections and Bus Strategy consultations, we believe Cambridgeshire’s bus improvements should be delivered through bus franchising to give the transport authority control over routes, times and frequency of operation, and permit cross-subsidy from profitable routes to help support routes that are not financially self-sustaining. Efforts should also be made to free up roadspace to allow buses to run on time and become a reliable, convenient mode of transport that people can depend on. Buses, however modern, are of no use to anyone if they are stuck in traffic.

The CSTA also believes transport should be accessible. We therefore call for the next generation of buses introduced in Cambridgeshire to be even more flexible, so they are better able to accommodate multiple wheelchairs users, prams, buggies and cycles.