Disclaimer: the contents of articles do not necessarily reflect Transport 2000 policy at either national or branch level. If you know any reason why any opinion expressed on a matter within the branch's remit should not be branch policy, please contact the Secretary/Coordinator -- it is through the exchange of ideas that methods for solving our problems are developed.
Please note that although in this newsletter we concentrate on matters of strategic importance, we would like to hear from any member on any transport related topic, however small. If you have a complaint or suggestion of any kind we will endeavour to pursue it ourselves or to advise you on how to pursue it yourself.
This newsletter follows hard on the heels of Newsletter 66, but there has been quite a lot of news in between, not to mention what was held over (translation: forgotten) from Newsletter 66.
The latest issue of ``Bus Stop Jottings'', the newsletter of the National Federation of Bus Users, contains an article about the effects of the ruling on longer distance services which we referred to originally in Newsletter 63.
The article starts with a quote from the ``Sun'' newspaper (7 Jan 1999 if you want to look it up) -- not noted for its coverage of public transport issues, but no doubt eager to exploit any excuse to air its anti-European prejudice. The article quotes the case of a passenger who has to get out of a bus in mid-journey to join the back of the queue for the same bus -- paying an extra fare and with the risk of not being able to get on if there is insufficient capacity. This is because the operator has had to remove any indication that the service runs through in order to avoid being subject to the European Union driving hours regulations that apply to routes over 50km.
Until last year longer routes (other than motorway coaches) were generally registered in sections under 50km to get round the regulations. But one operator was taken to court and received a heavy fine for this. The case has now reached the European court which has confirmed that operators cannot avoid the regulations in this way. But nobody seems inclined to spell out exactly what defines a ``route'' so that operators can know how much consideration they are entitled to give to passengers -- so operators are generally playing safe by giving none at all.
For marginal routes this may spell the difference between life and death. We suspect that the 601/603 (see later) is a case in point. The timetable published by Essex CC, the tendering authority, last summer was confusing and did not give the impression of a through service. Was this responsible for the drop in passenger numbers that has led the council to decide to discontinue the route after September 1999? (It may also be that this led to a confusion in the calculation of passenger numbers -- such confusion has been exposed in one of the other routes the council had been planning to axe.)
The European elections are due on 10 June. Now is the time to lobby the European candidates for the region, calling for a review of the regulations on the grounds that they are inimical to the development of a public transport network that can compete effectively with the car (which is European as well as UK Government policy) and also that they are giving free ammunition to those, like the ``Sun'', who oppose the whole idea of European cooperation.
We congratulate our Chairman Steve Harangozo on his election to South Cambridgeshire District Council.
The Coordinator will be away between 10 May and 1 July. During this period all correspondence (other than by email) should be addressed to the Chairman or Minutes Secretary (see head of newsletter for details).
Renewal forms have been sent with this newsletter to all members who have not yet paid their 1999-2000 subscription and who are due to pay it. The rates are unchanged -- GBP 3-50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5 household or group. While we shall, as usual, be issuing reminders to members who don't pay this time, we would be grateful if members could renew before the next newsletter. Please note that renewals sent to arrive before 1 July should be sent to the Chairman.
Here are some dates for your diary, in addition to the usual Cambridge Cycling Campaign meetings (1st Tuesday, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, 20.00) and Cambridge Friends of the Earth Transport & Planning (2nd Monday, contact David Earl -- details at head of newsletter -- or John Ratcliff -- details below) for venue.
Thursday 20 May, 10.00: Shortly after compiling our last newsletter we heard that the Traffic Commissioners' hearing into Stagecoach Cambus had been rescheduled yet again. We hope that none of our members turned up in vain. But before making the trip you had better check that the hearing hasn't been postponed yet a third time!
Saturday 12 June: T2000 branch member John Ratcliff is organising a ``Rail Ramble'' between Watlington and Kings Lynn stations as part of Green Transport Week, coordinated by the Environmental Transport Association. There may be some sponsorship from rail operator WAGN. We have agreed to provide some support for publicising this event -- a leaflet may be provided with this newsletter. If not contact John (01223 245533, email@example.com) for further details.
Transport 2000 has been one of many organisations campaigning for a change in the tax laws to favour ``green commuting''. An article earlier this year (issue 68/2) in ``Town & Country Planning'', which is stocked by Cambridge Central Library, exposed how bad the then current regime was. One company had concreted over its garden to provide extra car parking because of its inability to maintain support for bus services for employees in the face of a hostile tax regime. (Were there any who had had to give up their job because they didn't have a car available?) Fortunately the March budget has at last removed the worst anomalies -- companies may now give tax-free support to green commuter plans, works buses and parking and safety equipment for cyclists.
In Newsletter 66 we referred to our preliminary response to the Government's paper on buses, ``From Workhorse to Thoroughbred''. By the time you get this newsletter we will have submitted our final version (though if you want to send one, the closing date is not till 25 June) -- and if you have any burning criticisms of our response (which should in due course be on our website, or ask the Minutes Secretary to send you a copy) please let us know and we will try to send an amendment.
The main changes so far are to refer to the need to do the following:
We have also updated our reference to bus services in the Peterborough rural area (see later).
We shall also be referring to the recently released report of the Commons Select Committee on the Integrated Transport White Paper. We submitted written evidence to the Committee, and strongly welcome the vast majority of the report, which describes the White Paper proposals as inadequate to the job of creating a sustainable transport system (our wording). Here is a selection of their recommendations:
(a) Planning Policy Guidance should...forbid future out/edge of town shopping centres or other developments which generate large amounts of car traffic, regardless of whether or not they are on public transport corridors...
(b) The Government should...permit new housing to be built in rural locations only to meet local needs...
(j) ... The Government [should] legislate as a matter of urgency to give local authorities powers to enter into Quality Contracts and to specify the services that they require.
(p) ...Concessions [should apply for senior citizens] wherever they are travelling in the country and not just in the area where they reside...
(y) The Strategic Rail Authority must...offer guarantees to existing franchisees that, if they were to lose their contracts, the leases of any new trains introduced would be taken over by a successor franchisee.
(dd) ...Any [relaxation of loading hours restrictions] must be matched by the freight industry's introduction of more appropriate ways of delivering goods, including the use of quieter and less polluting vehicles. (The context suggests that this may refer to the idea of trans-shipments depots, mentioned in the White Paper.)
(ff) ...We are appalled by Railtrack's [rejection of] the piggyback scheme [for carrying lorry trailers on trains]...
(gg) The Government and local authorities [should] prepare a more extensive package of measures to improve alternatives to the car in rural areas...
(tt) ...Income raised from existing fines [for offences detected by speed, traffic signal and bus lane enforcement cameras] should be hypothecated to pay for the administrative costs and for more cameras...
(ww) Many of the fundamental elements of interchange are quite basic. Bus stops must be located close to railway stations. Accurate and easily understood timetable and fare information is essential. Bus and rail schedules and ticketing must be coordinated to enable passengers to make seamless journeys. Stations must be readily accessible for those travelling on foot, by bicycle and in taxis...
(yy) Local authorities and the Strategic Rail Authority [should be] given, as a matter of priority, the necessary powers to compel operators to integrate their services where this cannot be secured through negotiation.
(zz) A simple ticketing structure with inexpensive fares is essential...
(ggg) The Government [should] work towards a position where bus and train timetable canges are synchronised in order to improve integration.
(hhh) Railway and bus stations [should] be developed as public transport information centres...
(nnn) Road yser charging schemes should be designed, where possible, to include out/edge of town retail and leisure facilities and other major generators of traffic.
(ooo) Local authorities should be allowed to introduce customer parking charges... (Does this refer to the extension of the parking tax to non-workplace parking, which we strongly support?)
(ppp) The Government [should] guarantee that the income from road user and workplace parking charges be hypothecated to transport spending permanently and in full. The new monies raised must also be additional to existing sources of funding.
(qqq) Attractive alternatives to the car must be put in place before, or at the same time as, significant measures are introduced to restrain road traffic...Local authorities [should be able] to raise money for investment on the basis of the future revenue stream from the new charges.
(ttt) We expect local authorities to coordinate their proposals for new charges in accordance with regional transport strategies [so as not to underminee] the road traffic reduction policies of neighbouring councils.
We have often referred to the link between ever increasing traffic and climate change through the Greenhouse Effect. For a full discussion of this issue see the current issue (29/2) of the ``Ecologist'' (stocked by Cambridge Central Library) -- but give it a miss if you are prone to worry about our future! The magazine starts with a ``Climate Change Declaration'' endorsed by many organisations, including Transport 2000, which calls on governments to give urgent priority to measures like taking traffic reduction seriously.
Finally, it has been reported that land which may be needed for future rail use is still being sold off. A particularly worrying case in Scotland concerns the eviction from a rail-linked site of a company which specialises in removing asbestos from railway stock. This is likely to result in the complete loss of the facility, with all its implications for environmental health. The site developer wants it for a supermarket, which has no need to be near a railway -- and these are scarcely in short supply!
We start with an issue which was the subject of a national press release by Transport 2000. This is the Government decision to allow Essex CC to finance its planned near-motorway south of Chelmsford through the Private Finance Initiative -- contradicting a previous statement that no new local authority road schemes of this nature would be allowed until the Local Transport Plan process had gone through. The Government's let-out is that the scheme isn't ``new''.
A scheme of this scale seems to point towards a plan for an ``outer M25 relief road'', extending this scheme to meet the planned A120 upgrade near Dunmow. After all, it will tempt traffic from South Essex to use the existing A130 instead of the M25. All in all it seems to contradict sharply the Government's stated policy of limiting major new roads to where they fulfil a clear need. What's going on?
Better news in Suffolk. The Court quashed the planning permission granted by St Edmundsbury District Council for a proposed short length of road serving the Greene King brewery in Bury, which was to run across the town's water meadows, because of the failure to provide an environmental statement. But don't celebrate with Greene King beer just yet -- the plan may come back.
Esso has put forward plans for a motorway service station near the Duxford M11 interchange. This is exactly the site we have in mind for a transport interchange. Though the two land uses may not be completely incompatible -- our ideas include park & ride -- we plan to object to the Esso scheme. Incidentally, this includes the provision of a roundabout where Hunts Road meets the A505 (Hunts Road being the access to the area in question). This roundabout is part of the Cambs CC ``safety'' scheme for the A505 (see Newsletter 63), which we are strongly opposing because of its impact on buses. However, we don't oppose the roundabout itself -- indeed it's probably equally essential to our plans. We have asked the County Council how the Esso scheme would affect their plans, but as this as written have not had an answer. The relevant planning authority, South Cambs District Council, have asked the developers for an environmental statement, so the issue doesn't seem to need urgent attention at this stage.
The report commissioned by the Cambridge-Sudbury Rail Renewal Association into the reopening of the Cambridge-Sudbury railway has now come out. The consultants say that there are no major obstacles to reopening the full route (though the upgrading of the A11/A505 junction has added substantially to the cost -- we objected at the time partly on these very grounds). They also say that money invested in reopening the section between Cambridge and Haverhill (estimated cost GBP 23.2m) would offer the highest return in terms of passenger usage, with full line reopening (estimated cost GBP 49.1m) not far behind. This means that the campaign is likely to press for Cambridge-Haverhill as a first stage, with Haverhill-Sudbury added on later. (The second stage is likely to be a political imperative in terms of retaining support for the scheme from communities east of Haverhill.)
We believe that this report makes the reopening scheme a lot more credible, and plan to bring the issue of our affiliation to the CSRRA to our next meeting (which will not be before July). Any representations on this subject will be taken into account. Please note, however, that the St Ives line, including the extension to Huntingdon, remains much higher on our priority list.
Another planning issue that has come to our attention is a consultation by Peterborough City Council on a rights of way strategy. We have commended the Council for its commitment both to maintain the existing network and to extend it by schemes such as the Green Wheel (see Newsletter 63). Points we have made include the need to avoid severance of the network in conjunction with road schemes (such as A1 upgrade, which we wouldn't necessarily oppose if the road isn't to be widened), and the role the footpath and cycleway network could play in faciliating access to public transport from some of the less well served villages.
Last but not least, the County Council is consulting on its proposals for traffic restraint in the Emmanuel St area. We support these proposals. We are less enthusiastic about what may be a related scheme for a bus lane in Elizabeth Way -- on the grounds that there aren't actually any service buses there apart from Park & Ride.
We have put forward a proposal for a Quality Partnership with Cambus based on their providing a link from Arbury and Kings Hedges via Chesterton to the Grafton Centre (and, beyond there, the historic centre). This could run every 20 minutes replacing existing route 7.
We start with a summary of punctuality data compiled by Bus Stop Watch, the group, led by T2000 branch member Cllr Amanda Taylor, who have been collecting data on Cambus services from their own experience. The routes covered, from best to worst, with ``reasonably on time'' figures, are: 3 (72.2%), 8 (64.0%), 102 (57.9%), 44 (57.1%), 31 (54.3%), 6 (53.7%), 103 (50.8%), 5a (50.0%), 111 (50.0%), 5 (49.3%), 109 (47.2%), 2 (28.4%). The full data have been submitted as evidence for the Cambus inquiry referred to earlier.
At the meeting of the Strategic Forum covering Cambridge City and South Cambs districts, it was revealed that the County Council plans to develop a bus strategy for the Cambridge area. We have made representations that the group overseeing this should represent not only the county and district councils and the operators, but also local communities and bus users.
It is also worth noting that the agenda for the meeting included a list of routes which have been improved through the Rural Bus Grant. But among the list was service 151 (Cambridge-Huntingdon, evenings) which has actually been cut -- with the missing links not fully replaced by other evening services in the corridor.
We strongly welcome the decision of East Cambs DC to fall into line with the rest of the county by putting money towards the provision of concessionary passes for pensioners who do not satisfy the more stringent requirements of the County Council.
Most of the rest of the news (apart from the Newmarket services, see below) relates to the Peterborough area, but there's one change worth noting in West Hunts: the withdrawal of Keystone Coaches 414 from Molesworth to Thrapston. This was formerly supported by Cambs CC, but retained on a commercial basis when Cambs CC withdrew support. Now it has gone completely. Under our plans for the West Hunts area referred to earlier, the route would have been linked to the ``Stagecoach 400'' network and would have served a much larger catchment area.
Also, a journey between Wisbech and Tydd St Mary has been withdrawn because the contract for which this was a positioning working has now been awarded to another operator.
Here is a summary of changes to the Peterborough City network, mostly operated by Stagecoach Viscount:
1: Replaced by revised 2 and 18.
2: Rerouted via District Hospital and Priory Road to replace 1.
3: Minor timing changes.
5: Minor timing changes, linking at Welland with 18 to allow through journeys between Eye Road, Dogsthorpe and Hampton.
6: Extended to Park Farm replacing 9 and allowing through journeys to Rivergate, Fletton and Stanground.
7: Extended to Gunthorpe replacing 16. 6 and 7 serve Elwood Avenue and Park Farm Way.
8: Rerouted in Dogsthorpe via Central Avenue, Sycamore Avenue, Eastern Avenue and Newark Hill to Sainsbury's.
9: Replaced by extension of 6.
10: Replaced by 12.
12: Extended to Newark via Fengate, Showcase Cinema and the Eastern industrial area replacing tendered service 30, operated by First Choice Travel. Hourly, linking at Lynch Wood with 18 providing a link from Orton Waterville and Lynch Wood to Orton Centre and Hampton.
X13: Renumbered X12 with extra peak journeys.
16: Replaced by extension of 7.
18: Now runs every 30 minutes between Welland, the City Centre and Hampton, continuing hourly to Lynch Wood. Also hourly evening and Sunday services between the City Centre, Hampton and the Orton Centre.
29: Renumbered 12A with minor timing changes.
51: Werrington leg replaced by 54. Parnwell leg operated by Cavalier.
52: Yaxley leg replaced by 54. Gunthorpe leg operated by Cavalier.
53: New timetable providing joint half hourly evening and Sunday service to Orton with 18.
54: New route between Yaxley, the City Centre and Werrington replacing part 51 and 52.
307: Evening service towards Spalding cut (see last newsletter).
308: 17.48 ex Peterborough runs 5 minutes later as route 18.
367: Minor timing changes.
The ``Evening Rover'' network now meets at Peterborough bus station 10 minutes later, with buses departing at 15 minutes past the hour. This applies 7 days a week, but for daytime services on Sundays the hub remains at 5 past the hour.
Two destinations which have improved services are the new shopping centre at Hampton, which now has 3 buses per hour from the City Centre (18 and 351); and the archaeological museum at Flag Fen, served by route 12.
We now turn to Peterborough's out of town routes. There have been further improvements to First Eastern Counties X94 which now runs every hour (2 hourly on Sundays) through to Yarmouth. Evening and Sunday buses are diverted via Eye, which has no other service at such times. There are also later buses throughout the route. Unfortunately connections with late night trains from Kings Lynn to Cambridge still leave a lot to be desired.
However, the main story relates to the rural network north-west of Peterborough. In Newsletter 65 we reported that Delaine had switched all of its Peterborough-Stamford service away from the traditional route (via Marholm and Ufford) to another route via Helpston. We said that Marholm and Ufford now have very few buses. However, it turns out -- yet another of our omissions from Newsletter 66 -- that Peterborough City Council had put on a 2 hourly off-peak replacement, the 301, to complement other peak time services.
However, Delaine threatened to withdraw their service if Peterborough didn't hedge their replacement around with a comprehensive set of restrictions to prevent its use by passengers travelling between points served by their own service -- even if their arrival at the bus station was on another service during the short period between the two departure times, so they would have to wait a whole hour for the next Delaine bus. The effect of these restrictions was, predictably, that the service was totally unviable. We have been told that Delaine were not prepared to compromise on this in any way. So Peterborough City Council, rather than stand up to the threat and see it as an opportunity to put on an integrated network covering all the villages in the area, have replaced the 301 by a network of ``village'' services which only provides skeleton facilities for Marholm and Ufford, though it does provide new links to Stamford for villages on the 308 route (which, incidentally, has services other than the Viscount service mentioned above).
It is because of this that we have put the Peterborough rural area, together with Stamford, at the top of our priority list for use of the ``Quality Contract'' proposals of the Government's buses paper. Our response to the paper also puts forward the Peterborough-Stamford corridor as a candidate for our own suggested ``Quality Corridor'' approach. See earlier in this Newsletter, also Newsletter 66.
We believe that the Peterborough-Stamford corridor could have been developed in many ways: by a half hourly overall service between the towns; by providing a park & ride site at the roundabout south of Glinton; and by extending some buses to Oakham with through ticketing with Barton's for Melton Mowbray and Nottingham. The last would restore a well used Barton service to Nottingham whose withdrawal our predecessor organisation, the Cambridge Area Bus Campaign, reported in Newsletter 11 (April 1988). We are sure that this would have been much more fruitful for Delaine than trying to protect their patronage by driving the 301 out of business -- and that if they weren't prepared to seize the opportunity other operators should have been given the chance.
Now Marholm and Ufford have a much less frequent service by a complicated set of routes which also serves villages further north. This network is similar to Sunday route 300 reported in the last issue.
Publicity for the network has been very poor, but here are some outline details:
309: Peterborough, Edith Cavell Hospital, Bretton, Werrington, Glinton, Etton, Maxey, Helpston and return. 1-2 journeys Tuesdays and Thursdays.
310: Peterborough, Edith Cavell Hospital, Marholm, Ufford, Barnack, Uffington, Stamford. 1-2 journeys on days when 309 does not operate.
311: Peterborough, Showcase Cinema, Flag Fen, Newborough, Peakirk, Glinton, Etton, Maxey, Bainton, Ufford, Barnack, Uffington, Stamford. Some journeys serve West Deeping and Tallington instead. 1-2 journeys.
The other journeys on the corridor are 201 (hourly Peterborough-Stamford via Glinton, Helpston and Barnack, daytime only); 300 (Sundays, 3 journeys each way between Peterborough and Stamford by different routes); 301 (peaks only between Peterborough and Stamford or Thornhaugh via Marholm, Ufford and Barnack); 302/3 (several daytime journeys between Peterborough and Stamford via Wansford and Wittering; eastbound afternoon journeys run via Collyweston between Stamford and Wittering); and 308 (3 journeys each way between Peterborough and Maxey via Northborough, Peakirk and Glinton; some journeys serve Helpston).
We hope that the service gets publicised properly soon! (We are informed that Cambs CC, on behalf of Peterborough City Council, expect to publish a new edition of the Peterborough Rural booklet later this month.)
We report plans by Cambus to replace their current X11 (from 1 June) by a new ``Stagecoach Express'' network from Cambridge (rail and bus stations) to Newmarket, Bury, Mildenhall and Lakenheath. The X11 serves the A14 corridor as now, the X10 serves all the above places except Bury. Newmarket has a half hourly service on weekdays, hourly evenings and Sundays; the other destinations are served 2 hourly, daily, evenings included.
While we welcome the improvements including the rail link, we are concerned at the withdrawal of the existing Bottisham stop on the X11; at the failure to provide a stop at Cambridge Park & Ride to connect with the 5A to Addenbrookes; and at the failure to coordinate with tendered services 200 (Newmarket-Thetford, weekdays) and 156/757 (Bury-Colchester, Sundays). Three out of four northbound journeys from Colchester miss Cambridge connections by 3 minutes! And there will be massive duplication on the A11 corridor. Why can't we have a regular 2 hourly service between Cambridge and Thetford, connecting with the new X31 to Norwich (see below) with through ticketing?
Another question is whether the route through Kentford will be resumed when the bridge reopens, or whether they will use the excuse of the Tesco store in Newmarket to give up Kentford entirely. (See Newsletters 64-6 for more about this issue)? Will Kentford join Marholm and Ufford (see above), Fen Drayton (see Newsletter 60) and Littlebury (see Newsletter 47) as a village that has simply been taken off the network even though there is a main route which can usefully serve it?
The village will still be served by the 111/122 network -- and most journeys which do not now serve Bottisham will be diverted to do so. However, these routes serve a different part of the village and offer far longer journey times to Newmarket. Also changing are routes 6 (where the journey currently serving Newmarket will be curtailed at Stetchworth) and 116 (where there will be later end to end buses on Mondays to Fridays.
On the same corridor, don't be put off using Cambridge Coach Services 74 on Spring Bank Holiday weekend by the statement that this won't serve Mildenhall or Lakenheath due to the Air Show; this has been cancelled because of the Balkan crisis. National Express had intended to run a special service to the show, but this will presumably be cancelled.
We have found no other changes worth reporting in the summer National Express timetable. (If you disagree, please let us know!)
Nor are there many changes affecting our area in the summer rail timetable -- certainly none that have met any of our complaints. Minor improvements include later southbound trains from Kings Lynn on Sundays and from Glasgow on Saturdays. Unfortunately the latter has no onward connection to Cambridge or Huntingdon (except via Stevenage which usually means a higher fare as well as a longer journey).
Sunday network: the 601/603 Sunday service between Saffron Walden, Haverhill, Sudbury and Colchester, which passes through a corner of Cambs serving the Camps, will be advertised as a single service (route 601) in summer 1999. In Newsletter 66 we reported that Essex CC had decided to withdraw the service, and cited the confusing layout of the timetable as a result of the splitting of the route as a possible cause. Is this why the service has been readvertised as a through route?
We can also report that Suffolk CC's summer Sunday route from Histon to Clacton via Burwell, Newmarket (connects 200 from Cambridge and to Yarmouth), Bury, Stowmarket and Ipswich will be running again this summer.
Newsletter 66 referred to plans for a Bedfordshire CC service from Potton to Flitwick (weekdays), plus a Sunday journey to Aylesbury and Stoke Mandeville Hospital. We can confirm that these are now operating.
In Northants we referred last time to some rural improvements. There are eight new Sunday services -- from Northampton to Market Harborough (via Arthingworth), Towcester (via Stoke Bruerne), Daventry (via Bugbrooke) and Mears Ashby (via Overstone). Also Gretton to East Carlton Country Park via Corby; Kettering to Market Harborough; Daventry to Woodford Halse and Eydon; and Banbury to Brackley.
This is in addition to the seasonal Saunterbus services, which run every Sunday and Bank Holiday between May and September, plus some weekdays. There is one new route (the Rutland Saunter round Rutland Water, 23 May, 27 June, 5 Aug, 22 Aug and 26 Sept). Unfortunately residents of other counties, including Cambs, are liable to have difficulties accessing the network. From Cambridge (09.00) catch the X5 to Milton Keynes, X60 to Northampton and new 38C to Towcester for the Stowe Saunter (31 May, 4 July, 25 July, 30 Aug), and the above as far as Northampton for the Heritage Saunter (16 May, 6 June, 18 July, 18 Aug, 19 Sept). Use the 11.35 X3/X2 to Northampton for the Brampton Valley Saunter (30 May, 11 Aug, 29 Aug) and the Danetre Saunter (9 May, 13 June, 28 July, 5 Sept). Peterborough people use the X65/X64 at 10.30 to Northampton for the Brampton Valley, Danetre and Heritage Saunters; to Oundle for the John Clare Saunter (2 June, 11 July, 8 Aug, 12 Sept); to Weldon for the Rockingham Saunter (20 June, 1 Aug, 15 Aug, 24 Aug); and to Corby for the Rutland Saunter (dates above). For all the above, ask for a Sunday Rover which should cover all the buses listed. Access to other Saunters is possible from both Cambridge and Peterborough, but a worthwhile day out may require trains or express coaches, on which Sunday Rovers are invalid.
Norfolk had an upheaval on 12 April which caused some stir in the local press. The story was that First Eastern Counties were withdrawing many rural routes but improving others, and that Norfolk CC had been put to some expense in providing replacements. However, among the ``rural'' withdrawals is the ``main road'' route between Norwich and Wroxham: all Eastern Counties buses now use the ``villages'' route via Salhouse (with an hourly service to Stalham). The main road route is, however, far from direct for passengers coming into Norwich, who face what amounts to a city tour en route to the bus station! There is now an hourly service to Watton via Wymondham, and a 2 hourly service to Bury via Thetford. Cromer and Sheringham have a half hourly service operated jointly with Sanders (who also run the direct route to Wroxham).
The current Sunday network, apart from town services, is as follows. From Kings Lynn to Peterborough, Norwich and Yarmouth (X94); Fakenham and Cromer (X98); Walpole (63); and Hunstanton (410-3). From Yarmouth to Norwich via Filby (new route) and Potter Heigham (718); to Hemsby, Martham and Lowestoft (603/4); plus the day trip service from St Ives, Bar Hill, Cambridge, Bottisham and Newmarket (200). Norwich has buses to Aylsham, Cromer, Sheringham and Mundesley (50/43); North Walsham (8); Wroxham via villages (54); Lowestoft via Beccles (171); Diss (1/2) including a connection with the northbound 200 from Cambridge; Banham Zoo via Tacolneston (110); Watton via Wymondham, Attleborough and Hingham (52); Wells via Taverham, Cawston, Reepham, Fakenham and Walsingham (29); Bawburgh via Colney (57); Beetley via Mattishall and Dereham (157); and Blofield via Brundall (707). This provides plenty of variety for a day out with a Sunday Rover. The network will be enhanced for the summer season -- full details are not available, but the Coastliner serving the north coast will certainly be included, as will the Suffolk CC service from Haverhill and Bury to Diss (connecting with the 200 from Cambridge and to Yarmouth), Halesworth, Southwold and Lowestoft.
In Suffolk the Sunday service between Colchester and Ipswich is now to be cut yet again. There will be only one through journey, making it impossible for Colchester people to access what's left of the Suffolk Sunday network by this route. However, we can also report good news in that the Felixstowe-Bawdsey ferry will be running continuously as required between 10.00 and 18.00 until the end of October. This route has a new operator, called ``Odd Times Ferries''. There are now regular bus connections from Woodbridge at both ends on weekdays.
Lincolnshire has cut further services, including some routes serving seaside resorts which are going just as the public might start wanting to use them. The county is behaving as if it were trying to show the futility of ``throwing money at the problem''. We need to get away from the notion that bus services, and the demand for them, can or should be turned on and off like a tap. Instead we should be trying to build up a stable integrated network which will offer a real alternative for those who now claim (rightly or wrongly) that they have no alternative to the car.
London Transport are planning to ``gate'' all their stations. In the case of Chalfont & Latimer, which has a direct link to Cambridge by Cambridge Coach Services 75, this may involve forcing all passengers to enter or exit the station by way of the ``back'' entrance facing the car park, rather than the ``front'' entrance facing the town centre and bus stops. Hardly a good example of transport integration!
In Wensleydale, the replacement for the Wensleydale Railway Company bus service runs hourly between Northallerton, Bedale, Leyburn and Hawes. Unfortunately onward services to Garsdale are few (school and market day services only). There are also connections at Leyburn for Ripon (providing access from the south) and Richmond (providing access from the north). There is also a daily service right through to Keld in Swaledale.
Still in the Yorkshire Dales, the Sunday network includes some new or restored services, including the link between Harrogate, Pateley Bridge, Upper Nidderdale, Stump Cross Caverns and Grassington, as well as the Fountains Flyer accessing the area from West Yorkshire; a service to Swaledale via Leyburn, and to Malham via Skipton; as well as last year's services to Wharefdale, Wensleydale and Swaledale. But one missing link is between Ripon and Thirsk, a new access point for the North York Moors (as mentioned in Newsletter 66).
In Cumbria new routes include Keswick to Wasdale (Sats 3 July-28 Aug plus 30 Aug), Whitehaven to Ravenglass (Mon-Sat), and a regular service between Coniston and Ulverston connecting for Kendal and Barrow (ditto). The Caldbeck Rambler, which has been part diverted via Ireby, now runs throughout the year on Saturdays, as well as on summer Sundays and all weekdays in high summer. Timetables for these are available in Stagecoach's ``Lakeland Explorer'' booklet which should be available from their United Counties offices (the nearest to Cambs being in Bedford and Corby). Don't forget the Ennerdale Rambler (from Buttermere to Ennerdale) which is running again on weekends in high summer. Other new services include Appleby-Penrith via Dufton (Sats) and Kendal-Penrith via Tebay (Mon-Sat).
Notts CC's Sherwood Forester network has one major innovation: the 254 which provides one journey from Nottingham to Newark via Belvoir Castle, plus extra journeys between Belvoir and Newark, by an attractive ``village'' route, unfortunately not serving Grantham.
Not included in the network, though it is on their county map, is the Bolsover Heritage Bus which last year provided a ``vintage'' vehicle on a route between Worksop and Hardwick Hall, also serving other places of interest en route. We have no details about the operation of the service this year.
We understand that Monmouthshire is providing a Sunday network in the Wye Valley, but no details are currently available.
Finally, to Scotland. Highland Regional Council has put on a bus link between Fort William, Aviemore and Coire Cas daily between 31 May and 26 Sept 1999, with similar dates in 2000. Coire Cas is the bottom terminus of the Cairngorm Chairlift. The company that operates this is planning to replace it with a funicular railway, but with a planning condition that debars users from gaining access to the mountain at the top. So if you want to walk in the area and don't have the energy for a steep climb, this may be your last chance -- though the campaign, in which the Scottish Ramblers Association is prominent, to stop the scheme (which has been condemned by the National Audit Office as unviable) hasn't yet given up.