A consultation on ambitious proposals to transform the way people travel in, out and around Greater Cambridge has now opened.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is asking people to have their say on changes which would create faster, cheaper, more reliable bus services running from earlier in the day to later at night, as well as more investment in better walking and cycling routes.
From as early as 2023, the GCP is proposing to transform the bus network through more services to more locations, with cheaper fares at £1 or £2 per journey.
These changes would be paid for upfront by the GCP and phased in over four years before the proposed introduction of a Sustainable Travel Zone with a road user charge.
The zone would fund the bus network in the future and deliver the space needed for ambitious walking and cycling improvements.
Key features of the London-style bus network and active travel improvements are:
- *New bus routes, additional orbital and express services to key sites across the city, and a huge increase in services for villages and towns across the travel to work area.
- *Buses supported by flexible services known as Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) – which you can book that picks you up from near your home, such as the popular Ting service currently being trialled in West Huntingdonshire.
- *Longer operating hours from 5am to 1am and more frequent services – 6-8 buses every hour in the city and from market towns, and hourly rural buses.
- *Flat fares to make public transport cheap and accessible for all; with passengers paying £1 to travel in the city and £2 in the travel to work area.
- *Options for new cycling routes in the city and connections between villages and the wider active travel network, including the 12 Greenways routes.
- Improvements to public spaces to make Cambridge more ‘people-centric’.
All vehicle movements into, out of and within the proposed Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ) would pay a flat daily charge between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.
There would be discounts, exemptions and reimbursements for some, including those on low incomes and blue badge holders.
The money generated by the zone, which would not be fully introduced until 2027/28, would be ringfenced to provide better buses and other improvements to the transport network.
Cllr Elisa Meschini, Chair of the GCP’s Executive Board, said: “Shaped by extensive consultation over many years, the proposals out to public consultation today would be one of the largest investments in a UK bus network.
“We want to create a London-style service with more cheap buses to more locations and faster, more frequent services across the region. Alongside this are proposals for more walking and cycling links, better cycle parking, and the repurposing of public space to create a city that prioritises people over cars.
“This would change all our lives. We would cut car journeys in half, double bus services, create space for cyclists and walking. Cambridge would also have cleaner air and safer spaces.
“With the City Deal in place to pay for these improvements up front, we have a once in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform how we travel around Greater Cambridge. I encourage everyone to engage with the proposals online, in print, or through public or online events and have your say.”
Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, said: “We are at a turning point when it comes to transport in the Greater Cambridge area. With rising fuel costs, a growing population and congested roads, and bus services being cut, we need to transform our transport system and give people better travel options.
“A shift away from cars can only happen if we have fast, reliable, affordable and frequent buses. That’s why these proposals from the GCP set out a bus system which aims to be world class, which is the ambition needed to make the positive change we all want.
“The Combined Authority is continuing to work on a strategy that aims to reform our bus system. Franchising is one future option being reviewed, alongside ways to attract funding and investment.
“This consultation looks to that future, presenting lower fares, extended services and new routes that include rural communities, and moving us towards the joined-up network we all need.”
The package has been developed following extensive public consultation over many years and would result in 20,000 extra journeys made by bus. An additional 60,000 trips would be made by active travel every day to create a greener city region for all.
The scheme would also cut the number of car trips in Cambridge by 50% and reduce carbon emissions from transport by about 5%.
The City Access package is central to the GCP’s integrated transport network – providing the thread that links together the GCP’s busways, active travel schemes and plans to provide 10,000 additional Park and Ride spaces around the city region.
The GCP will be holding public meetings and drop-in sessions – both in person and online – as well as attending community events, transport hubs and popular employment and leisure hubs around the region to listen to people’s views.
The findings will be used to put together a detailed Business Case that would be put to the GCP’s Executive Board next year to decide whether to go ahead with the proposals and consider the timeline to implementing each part of the scheme.
Cambridgeshire County Council, as the Highway Authority, has ultimate responsibility for any proposals around charging policies and would make the final decision.