Residents will soon be invited to share their views on transformational proposals to significantly improve how people travel around Greater Cambridge every day.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership will launch an extensive public consultation this autumn on ambitious plans to create a step change in public transport – with one of the largest ever investments in a UK bus network alongside better active travel links.
The GCP’s Executive Board agreed this week to hold a consultation on the transformative public transport and active travel package, which would be funded in the long-term by the introduction of a Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ) with a road user charge.
Cllr Elisa Meschini, Chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Executive Board, said: “If recent announcements have shown us anything, it is we need better and more reliable buses which are vital for so many people, including some of most vulnerable and isolated in our communities. It is time to have a serious conversation about what we want from our public transport network.
“Time and again we have been told to ‘be bold’ and ‘take action’ to tackle the traffic clogging up our roads and the effects of climate change. These proposals represent a once in a generation opportunity to truly transform the way we all travel around the region.
“Together, we can create a transport network that works for everyone, with cheap and frequent bus services with longer operating hours to more locations – including employment sites and rural communities – to restore faith in public transport as a real alternative to the car, and to provide an environmentally sustainable, reliable and competitive choice for everyone’s journeys.
“I encourage everyone to carefully consider the ambitious package of measures we are proposing when the public consultation launches this autumn.”
Cllr Anna Smith, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “This is a hugely important issue for Cambridge. I would encourage all residents, businesses, students and people who travel to Cambridge to take this opportunity to have their say in the consultation in the coming weeks. It’s vital that we get a really clear picture of people’s views on the steps we should take next.”
Key features of the proposed City Access package are:
- *New bus routes, additional orbital and express services, and a huge increase in rural coverage, with *buses supported by Demand Responsive Transport (DRT).
- *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 cross-city cycling routes to encourage more active travel, enhancing Greater *Cambridge’s reputation as the UK’s leading cycling city.
The package follows extensive public consultation and engagement over many years and would result in 20,000 extra journeys made by bus. A further 60,000 additional trips would be made by active travel every day to create a greener city region where people can travel easily and reliably on bus, bicycle and on foot.
Better buses and reduced bus fares would be phased-in before any Sustainable Travel Zone was introduced. The City Deal can forward-fund the bus upgrades now to build confidence in services to help people make the modal shift from private car to bus, but the changes require longer term funding.
Under the proposals, all vehicle movements into, out of and within the Sustainable Travel Zone would pay a flat daily charge – unless exempt or eligible for a discount or rebate scheme included in the consultation – between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.
The revenue generated by the STZ, which would not be introduced until 2027/28, would be ringfenced for the bus network and transport improvements.
The proposals reflect peoples’ feedback to the GCP’s extensive public consultations – including last year’s Making Connections – and would help to cut the number of car trips in Cambridge by 50%, while raising the funding needed to provide a future bus network and better active travel options for people across the travel to work area.
The scheme would reduce carbon emissions from transport by about 5% to help tackle climate change, as well as reducing pollution to provide cleaner air and a more ‘people-centric’ city environment for people to enjoy.
The City Access package is central to the GCP’s integrated transport network – providing the thread that links together the GCP’s busway and active travel schemes to transform how people travel across the area.