Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk

Newsletter 68, Aug 1999

Disclaimer: contents of articles do not necessarily reflect Transport 2000 policy at either national or branch level. As exchange of ideas is how solutions to problems are developed, we want to hear from members on any transport related topic, however small. This includes objections to opinions expressed here on matters within our remit becoming branch policy. We will try to pursue any complaint or suggestion or advise you how to pursue it yourself.


In May passengers who had amassed complaints about the unreliability of Stagecoach Cambus were able to get them heard in an official forum. A report on the hearing is given later in this newsletter. Here we wish to make the point that the Traffic Commissioners didn't seem to have the interests of passengers in mind when they issued the following verdict:

1. Cambus must repay 20% of its fuel duty rebate over the relevant period.

2. Cambus would be forbidden to introduce any changes not already registered, except the withdrawal of services, for the rest of 1999.

3. The registrations for the two routes seen as most unreliable -- the 4 and 103 -- would be withdrawn as from 26 July 1999.

Cambus gave notice of appeal and asked for the penalty to be suspended until they had been heard; the Traffic Commissioners refused. Cambus then asked the Transport Tribunal, who would be hearing the appeal, to suspend the penalty.

Less than a week before 26 July, we were told that the Transport Tribunal had acceded to this request. If they hadn't done, what would have happened to passengers on the routes in question?

The County Council has a statutory responsibility to arrange support for operators to run socially needed but non-commercial services. So why didn't they reassure the affected communities that, whatever happened, they would underpin the relevant routes? They have a contingency fund for the precise purpose of covering unexpected spending needs.

In the hearing, the Council gave evidence that running the 103 as a tendered service would increase costs and reduce frequencies. The first is certainly true, but why would the Council be unable to tender for the 103 at current levels? Are they reluctant to upset Cambus?

To replace not only the 4 and 103, but also the Babraham Rd Park & Ride service which Cambus would have been unable to provide when the site opens later this month, we suggested the following network:

(a) Half hourly, Kings Hedges to Pampisford via route 4 to Addenbrookes, the P&R site, Gt Shelford, then circular via Lt Shelford and Whittlesford, or Stapleford and Sawston, returning the other way.

(b) Half hourly, Cambridge to Stapleford Mingle Lane, circular via Addenbrookes and the P&R site, or Trumpington and Gt Shelford, returning the other way.

(c) Hourly, Cambridge to Bps Stortford via Addenbrookes, the P&R site, Gt Shelford, Stapleford, Sawston, Duxford, Ickleton, the Chesterfords, Littlebury, Audley End House and station, Saffron Walden then as Essex CC's Village Link 5 via Thaxted and Stansted Airport. This would be jointly supported by the two councils.

This network would restore many links lost in recent years, including services to Addenbrookes from many places in the area, Duxford to Saffron Walden, and Littlebury to either Cambridge or Saffron Walden. The last was lost when Essex CC imposed a ``temporary'' weight limit on the bridge at Littlebury, and later withdrew its emergency service from the village to Saffron Walden. It would also provide many new links -- Saffron Walden estates and local villages to Audley End station, Cambridge to Audley End House and Thaxted for tourists, villages beyond Saffron Walden to Cambridge and Addenbrookes.

The Transport Tribunal's decision makes the County Council's reply to our proposals academic. In any case it appears that Stagecoach would have got round the ban by transferring the services to another subsidiary -- and no doubt they will do this if the penalty is confirmed by the Transport Tribunal at the appeal (currently expected September). However we were still gobsmacked to find that the Council regarded our proposals as unfair competition for Cambus!

Though Stagecoach could also have transferred services to another subsidiary if it wished to change them, it would also have had an excellent excuse to reject demands from villagers to reinstate lost facilities. We are thinking in particular of the need to change the route of X11 (Cambridge-Bury) to serve Kentford village as soon as the weight limit there is lifted (expected early October) -- at present Kentford's main service is the 200, which only serves the west end of the village and doesn't go to either Cambridge or Bury. Now that Cambus is free to do what it likes, we will be watching carefully to see if they do reinstate the former route through the village.

As mentioned in past newsletters, the Council plans to ban some of the turns made by the 112/103 on its anti-clockwise run. The Council rejected our plea for an exemption for buses on the grounds of an assurance from Cambus that they could still maintain their schedules. How much is this assurance worth now? If the proposal is in the Council's Local Transport Plan, we shall urge the Government to reject it on the grounds of adverse impact on bus users, which is incompatible with a policy of encouraging alternatives to the car.

Incidentally, following the verdict, we added a rider to our response to the Government's bus consultation paper to suggest that the Traffic Commissioners should be required to give primacy to the interests of passengers!

Branch news.

A few members still haven't renewed. Renewal slips are enclosed herewith. Please note that one cheque has been paid in without being recorded, so if you receive a renewal slip in spite of already having paid please let us know as soon as possible.

Subscription rates are unchanged -- GBP 3-50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5 household or group. Mambers who do not renew this time may not receive further reminders.

We don't have any meetings planned at this time, but our next newsletter should contain details of our AGM. Meanwhile, here are some dates for your diary.

August Bank Holiday Weekend: National Waterways Festival, Worcester. Accessible from Cambridge by bus to Oxford then train (Network Railcard reductions available).

Sept 1: Deadline for return of forms for petition, organised by Cambridge Cycling Campaign, against allowing motorbikes into bus & cycle lanes. See below for details.

Sept 5: Official opening of Green Wheel Phase 2 in Peterborough. There will be a fun day at Flag Fen, with cycle rides of varying length starting there between 10.30 and 11.30. For those with non-folding bikes, rail access from Ely, St Neots and intermediately is easy, but the first train from Cambridge arrives 10.57. An earlier arrival is possible by National Express and bike hire is available, but Flag Fen is not too easy to get to by bus on a Sunday.

Sept 7 (and first Tuesday of each month): Cambridge Cycling Campaign meeting at the Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge starting 7.30 for 8.00.

Sept 13 (and second Monday of each month): Cambridge Friends of the Earth Transport & Planning meeting, starts 7.30 but venue varies -- contact John Ratcliff (01223 245533) or David Earl (01223 504095) for details.

Oct 2: STEER meeting in Luton, for details ring 01582 724257.

Nov 26 and 20 Feb 2000: Further train rambles, see below.

We have one new member: S. Akhurst, Haverhill. Please note that Transport 2000 now has representatives in Essex and Lincolnshire, and its national headquarters has moved (see head of newsletter for details).

National news.

Transport 2000's long standing campaign to tame traffic is bearing fruit in three ways. Firstly, legislation empowering local authorities to set up 20mph zones is now in force. Secondly, the Quiet Lanes project, which aims to give pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders priority on certain country lanes, is to receive trials in Norfolk (Cromer area) and Kent.

Thirdly, the Government recently launched a pilot Home Zones initiative in West London, which will also cover eight other areas. Given that the MP for Peterborough was instrumental in bringing the idea to Parliament it is appropriate that one area will be in Peterborough (New England). For those who don't know, a Home Zone -- a translation of the Dutch ``Woonerf'' -- is a residential area where use of the streets for community activities, including children's play, has priority over traffic. There are more than 6,000 of them in the Netherlands.

There has been a lot of concern expressed in the media recently about whether the Government's transport policy is actually bringing benefits. Transport 2000 has put forward a list of initiatives that don't cost the earth (unlike the ``do nothing'' policy) and can be implemented, or at least started, quickly. Here is the list, with our comments:

1. Extend the public transport network.

Towns of over 25,000 people should have a rail service, those of over 20,000 people a dedicated bus link to a rail station. A list of specific rail reopening projects is given, including the east-west link between Cambridge and Oxford. The Strategic Rail Authority should study the need for other reopenings, and rural railheads to be fed by buses. Evening and Sunday bus and rail services should be improved, and the Government should fund piggyback railfreight schemes (where lorry trailers are carried on rail wagons) and plan a national network of railfreight terminals.

Our comment: at a Cambridge & Sudbury Rail Renewal Association meeting, it was mentioned that Haverhill currently has 26,000 people. So the first phase of the CSRRA campaign, as identified by the pre-feasibility study -- reopening between Cambridge and Haverhill -- now has endorsement from Transport 2000 nationally! Anyone know the current or projected populations of St Ives, Wisbech and Mildenhall? Because of its strategic value in relieving the A14 and feeding the East Coast Main Line, we put the St Ives line reopening through to Huntingdon, as part of an east-west link, at the top of our priority list. As Wisbech is on an existing freight line, passenger trains could be brought to it cheaply. A rail link for Mildenhall is a longer term possibility. As for bus links, Haverhill needs faster buses to Cambridge and more buses to Audley End; St Ives should have regular services to the station at Huntingdon; Wisbech to March as well as Peterborough, Kings Lynn and Downham Market; and Mildenhall to Ely, Stansted Airport, Kennett and Lakenheath as well as Cambridge station.

Improving evening buses to link with incoming trains, and creating an integrated Sunday network, are both high on our list of priorities.

2. Improve public transport quality.

This includes setting up a national ``superbus'' network of services that meet certain standards, to be monitored and enforced by the Traffic Commissioners; improvements to stations; and more power to users via the Rail User Consultative Committees (who should have power to set terms for rail operator contracts) and, for bus users, perhaps via the Traffic Commissioners.

Our comment: we regard the Superbus proposal as particularly appropriate to long distance routes. There is already a Stagecoach Express network, and First Group have upgraded their Peterborough to Norwich and Bishops Stortford to Southend routes. There are lots more needed, including Haverhill to Rugby, Cambridge via Haverhill to Colchester or Ipswich, and Stansted to Gatwick Airport via the Dartford Crossing. In view of our headline article, there is no need to say more about the need for the need for a voice for bus users!

3. Simplify and cut fares.

Fares are among the highest in Europe and have risen 33% above inflation since 1980. We need a national public transport card (valid everywhere), a simpler fares structure, a comprehensive Travelcard system, national railcards for all age groups, and tax concessions for public transport seasons and travelcards. A ``smartcard'' system could be used to bring all these together.

Our comment: may be hard to implement in our privatised system. The marketing aspect of public transport -- as opposed to the operation -- might need to be taken back into public ownership. We also need to reduce international rail fares to improve comnpetitiveness with air travel, which causes even more pollution per unit of travel than cars.

4. Improve integration.

Aspects specifically mentioned by Transport 2000 include a door to door information service (which operators would be required to keep up to date); better access to stations for pedestrians, cycles and buses; national door to door bookings including taxis and car or bike hire; a national bike-rail project; a national train taxi scheme (providing reduced rates for rail users to complete their journeys); and a supplementary fare of GBP 1 giving rail users unlimited travel around the town where they start or finish their journey.

Our comment: This would perhaps do more than anything to make public transport a real option for the majority of medium and long distance journeys. As T2000 say, some initiatives along these lines have already started, but they need to be extended nationally.

5. Civilising streets.

We have already mentioned home zones and 20mph speed limits. T2000 also mention safe school zones, high quality pedestrian and cycle routes (not shared with each other), restricting heavy lorries to trunk roads, and improved enforcement for traffic offences.

Our comment: the heavy lorry initiative would be assisted by providing trans-shipment depots which should also be linked to rail. How about Chesterton Sidings as a site to serve Cambridge and the surrounding villages?

6. Transport action zones.

This would parallel other Government initiatives and aim to secure minimum standards for areas that are currently ``transport deprived''.

Our comment: this would be particularly relevant in persuading people from rural areas that if they use their cars only when they have to they will not suffer serious hardship if the cost of motoring is raised to cover its full social costs.

7. Miscellaneous.

Transport 2000 also mentions home deliveries from shops, community car hire, green commuter plans and teleworking, all currently under trial (some in our area).

Stagecoach Cambus Public Inquiry.

The Public Inquiry into the complaints of unreliability on the part of Stagecoach Cambus was finally held on Thur 20 May at the Eastern Traffic Area Office, Terrington House, Hills Road, Cambridge, following 2 postponements. Here is a report by Martin Thorne, whose comments are added in italics.

Presiding over the proceedings was Geoffrey Simms, Eastern Area Traffic Commissioner. Present for Stagecoach Cambus were Managing Director Philip Eden, Assistant Operations Manager Mr King, plus several other company representatives. The defence for Stagecoach Cambus was from a firm of lawyers based in Yorkshire. Also present were representatives from Cambs CC and the DETR.

The inquiry began at 10.00, and after the Traffic Commissioner's opening remarks, the first person to take the witness stand was Andrew Pickering, Deputy Headmaster of Sawston Village College. He gave an account of poor operation of route 103 last year. Services had since improved, except on one occasion on 4 May when the afternoon 103 additional journey from Sawston Village College failed to turn up, which necessitated contacting parents, taxi firms etc. to arrange transport home for schoolchildren. Apparently, Stagecoach Cambus had thought that this day was a school holiday! Peter Allsop, Eastern Traffic Area Office with responsibilities for buses, also gave account of problems with service 103 last year. Also mentioned were problems with services 118 and 155-9 at around the same time.

After a short break, the next person to take the stand was Miss Culthorpe, who lives in Chesterton and represented Bus Stop Watch. She detailed reliability problems on services 7 and 8. Stagecoach Cambus gave their reply and action taken to effect improvements. Mrs Ivy Richards, who is on Histon Parish Council and also represented Bus Stop Watch, was the next person to appear on the witness stand. She gave details on reliability problems for services 104/5. Stagecoach Cambus then gave their response. Mrs Richards then asked how punctuality was assessed. Mr King then gave his reply. The Wayfarer ticket machines are set each morning by himself and his staff, before the start of the first journeys, with the correct time taken from the Speaking Clock. The clocks on the Wayfarer machines cannot be altered by the driver. Punctuality is also assessed from the time that tickets are issued at each stop the bus makes.

There was then a break for lunch from 12.25 until 13.00. After lunch, the next person to take the stand was Roger Macklin, Public Transport Manager for Cambs CC. He gave details of the numerous complaints received from bus passengers in late Summer and early Autumn 1998, when the driver shortages were at their height. Since the reorganisation of services in Oct 1998 and Jan 1999, complaints have almost disappeared. He then gave details of the County Council's role in supporting bus services, including new and enhanced services provided by the Rural Bus Grant (RBG). Half of the County Council's RBG went on the service 113 enhancements, whose launch was delayed by the driver shortages. He also gave details of what would happen if service 103 was changed from a commercial to a tendered service. Costs would increase and the service would be less frequent. The Traffic Commissioner must have been asleep in this part of the Inquiry! Mr Macklin also gave details of reliability problems that can occur when notification of roadworks are not received, or are received too late, by the County Council.

Philip Eden was the next person on the stand. He gave the background into last year's problems. The company was caught on the hop by the driver shortages, caused by staff holidays plus some driver retirements. Although initially nothing was done, it soon became apparent that it was a serious problem, especially after the Traffic Commissioners warning. A plan of action was soon put into place. Pay and conditions were improved, recruitment was stepped up and additional driver training vehicles were acquired. Staff are now encouraged to take NVQs in customer care. He then detailed bus service reliability on a route by route basis, as noted by the Bus Stop Watch monitoring group. I am only mentioning the city services, as these were most affected.

2: Revised route from October initially unreliable, further change of route in January improved matters.

3: Suffered from early running in the mid-morning period due to light loads to the Rail Station and heavy loads therefrom. Drivers warned.

4: Problems initially when route was altered in January. Few problems now occur. Why axe it then?

5/5A: Similar problems to above, also roadworks in Hills Road and Station Road affected reliability during the monitoring period.

6: Reduced to half-hourly to improve reliability and profitability -- both have been achieved. Now normally operated with full-size single deck low-floor vehicles.

7: Usually operated by vehicles from country services to/from Cowley Road depot to reduce empty running. No reliability problems reported.

8: Normally worked by mini/midibuses. Problems were caused by the introduction of traffic signals at the Mill Road/Perne Road junction during the monitoring period.

Most of the country services, plus Park & Ride service 500, were then detailed. Few problems were reported other than those already mentioned. Not all routes were covered by Bus Stop Watch.

After the Bus Stop Watch monitoring was concluded, Mr Eden continued. It had been found necessary to recruit additional inspectors at the bus station, the City Centre bus stops, plus one mobile inspector due to inadequate coverage by the two-way radio system. A more locally-based management structure was introduced. There had also been some staff changes caused by the sudden death of the Traffic Manager. He then gave details of the company method of acquiring the fuel duty rebate.

During last Summer and Autumn, an ``excessive'' number of complaints had been recorded, but these were now down to 1-2 per day. The company carries approx 650,000 passengers per month, which is continually increasing. Mr Eden then gave a brief account of the company's history. Also mentioned were some of the other bus companies operating services in the Cambridge area. He then gave a frank admission of last years problems, but then questioned the need for a Public Inquiry given the considerable improvements made to bus services since. Improved staff conditions, including the possible introduction of a 4-day working week in the future, has helped to retain them. That's not what I've heard. Improvements have been made to the maintenance of the two-way radio system to improve its reliability, but it is now obsolete and an application will soon be made to Stagecoach Group Head Office for funds for a new two-way radio system with vehicle-tracking capabilities. Will this benefit passengers waiting at bus stops as well, who want to know where their bus is? When the Operations Manager receives notification of roadworks that are on bus routes, he then decides what action to take to minimise disruption to services.

Mr Simms suggested that other bus companies could run services should problems arise in future. Mr Eden replied that this was unlikely to occur, although he would keep it on the back burner, mentioning that few of the bus companies in the Cambridge area would have the resources to operate commercial services on Cambus's scale.

Details were then given on end-to-end journey times on Stagecoach Cambus services. Some peak-hour journeys have been given extended journey times to take account of traffic congestion at those times of the day. Mr Eden then apologised profusely to those passengers that had been inconvenienced by last summer's driver shortages, before giving details of how unpredictable events, e.g. vehicle breakdown, were dealt with. He suggested to Mr Macklin that more bus priority measures would improve punctuality. He then gave details of the success of the Megarider ticket (where it is available!) mentioning that people prefer to buy all types of tickets from the driver rather than from newsagents etc. This is opposite to what happens in Europe. Details of the monitoring period were given, before the lawyer representing Stagecoach Cambus gave the company's defence.

The Public Inquiry concluded at approx 16.15, with Mr Simms stating that he would give his reply in due course. By law he must make a decision within 28 days.

The Inquiry was conducted in a very professional manner, as it should be. I think that the Traffic Commissioner was a little unfair on Cambus, considering that they had made major improvements since last summer's problems. The much trumpeted Bus Stop Watch campaign could have better planned for the Inquiry (the 2 representatives of Bus Stop Watch who were at the Inquiry were only there by luck!). It was also unfortunate that there was no City Council representation, as the date for the Inquiry clashed with a full meeting of the City Council (this might have made a difference at the Inquiry). One also got an insight into how the company operates as well. The outcome, though, was not what I expected. It was a very gruelling day for all concerned!

Motorbike threat to bus lanes.

This article is reproduced from Newsletter 25 of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign. We may add that bus operators have also come out against the proposals in question, because of the likely reduction in the time savings for buses.

Over recent years we have seen an increasing number of bus lanes introduced on the roads of Cambridge. We will see yet more over the next few years. At present, these may be used not only by buses and cyclists but also by taxis. In the future, however, we may have to share them with motorcycles, scooters and mopeds as well, if the ``powered two wheeler'' (PTW) lobby in Cambridge gets its way.

A local motorcycle training organisation called Camrider has recently started campaigning hard to get PTWs allowed into bus lanes, and is collecting signatures for a petition which, we understand, will probably be presented either to the City Council in September or to the County Council in November.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign policy on this issue, following a vote at February's monthly meeting, is to oppose the use of bus lanes by motorbikes. At present, this is also the policy of the County Council: on 5 July it approved yet another bus lane -- this time on Elizabeth Way -- and confirmed that it would be for buses, pedal cycles and taxis only.

There is, however, a real threat that the council's policy may change. The Camrider petition will be taken seriously by the council and it will certainly not be dismissed out of hand. We are therefore starting a campaign on behalf of cyclists to oppose it and to urge the County Council to stick to its existing policy, which is to keep motorbikes out of bus lanes.

One of the reasons we are so worried is because of what happened in Bristol, where motorbikes have been allowed to use many bus lanes for several years. This started initially as an experimental scheme. There were -- amazingly -- no proper ``before'' and ``after'' studies, but a subsequent survey of cyclists found that 31% of cyclists had experienced problems with motorbikes in these bus lanes, leading Bristol City Council to conclude ``it appears that the experiment had a measurable effect on cyclists''. Nevertheless the scheme was made permanent, firstly because the local council said it could not afford to remove it, and secondly, because the Chief Constable said that after allowing motorbikes into bus lanes it would be too difficult to enforce banning them again.

So if motorbikes are allowed into bus lanes, even as an experiment, we might be stuck with them for good. It would also set a precedent for other towns and cities. Transport experts have told us that if PTWs are allowed into bus lanes in ``cycle city'' Cambridge, then this will set a standard for elsewhere in the country.

There is also concern that this would be the start of a ``slippery slope''. Once motorbikes and mopeds are allowed into bus lanes, we will see campaigns for them to be allowed into cycle lanes and advanced stop boxes at traffic lights, and even onto off-road facilities. In the Netherlands, mopeds are not only allowed to use cycle lanes, but also many off-road cycle paths. In west London, mopeds are allowed to use the cycle tracks alongside the A4.

We will be sending a more detailed paper to councillors and council officials, explaining why we object to this change. In summary:

PTWs are not a green form of transport, and should not be encouraged in this way. Motorcycle industry figures confirm that although their energy consumption -- per person -- is slightly better than that of single-occupancy cars, it is worse than that of multiple-occupancy cars. And both are much less energy-efficient than buses, even at present levels of bus occupancy.

PTWs are a threat to the safety of cyclists. Motorbikes have a much greater power-to-weight ratio than buses and taxis, and hence much faster acceleration. They are therefore much less predictable than buses and taxis, much more likely to appear out of nowhere and change direction suddenly. Their smaller size also means that they will be free to speed along bus lanes in a way that buses and taxis cannot. And they will. A Government survey of 30mph areas found that 52% of PTWs were breaking the speed limit and 34% were doing over 35mph. These figures include mopeds, which are limited by design to 30mph.

Allowing PTWs into bus lanes would -- let's face it -- make them unpleasant for cyclists. This would undermine both national and local policy which is to encourage cycling -- a healthy, non-polluting and non-hazardous form of transport. It would also send out a strong message that the convenience of private motor vehicles is being placed before the convenience and safety of cyclists.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign is opposing the CAMRIDER petition with a petition of our own. Copies may be obtained by visiting the Cambridge Cycling Campaign web page containing the article and following the instructions given there for downloading the PDF file containing the petition; or by ringing Clare Macrae at (01223) 501050 before 20.00.

The petition, which should be returned to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign at FREEPOST ANG6727, Cambridge CB4 3YA by 1 Sept 1999, is headed ``Motorbikes and Pedal Cycle Petition'' and reads as follows: ``We, the undersigned, consider that the speed (especially excessive speed) of motorcycles and other powered two-wheel vehicles makes them unsuitable to use road-space not currently shared with pedal cycles. We consider environmental claims for motorcycles to be dubious. In particular, we oppose any relaxation of the regulations governing bus-and-cycle lanes or Advanced Stop Lines which would allow motorcycles to use them.''

Walk Report.

Here is John Ratcliff's report on the walk organised by Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk during Green Transport Week.

Despite some appalling weather, our ``train ramble'' on 12 June was successful in making some good points about possibilities for leisure activities in the countryside without using the car. We were even able to find a connecting bus for those who did not wish to walk all the way. The 10 hardy people who turned out seemed to enjoy getting soaked. We were particularly pleased to see Cambridge City Councillors Colin and Joye Rosenstiel and also Chris Burden, Coordinator of T2000's London & Home Counties North Local Group, who felt that the views of the Norfolk countryside and King's Lynn were well worth his train journey from Marlow, Bucks.

We had excellent cooperation from WAGN, the Ramblers' Association, the Fen Rivers Way Association and the village pub at Wiggenhall St Germans. There was good local media coverage, mainly due to the event's coincidence with the Cambridge ``Reclaim the Streets'' demo, with which we were favourably contrasted.

There were several people who could not come on the day, but expressed an interest in future such events. Among them were Gill Richardson, Deputy Mayor of Cambridge, who came to the station to see us off. Because of such interest I am arranging two further walks, jointly with the Ramblers Association Cambridge Group. On these occasions we shall catch a train from Cambridge into the countryside and walk back into the City, stopping at a pub for lunch. These walks will be on Saturdays 20 Nov and 26 Feb 2000. For further details please email or ring 01223 245533.

Planning news.

We start with the issue of shopping. The Government gave its approval to the proposed Waitrose superstore in Trumpington, to which we and many other groups objected on the grounds of generation of traffic (among others). Apparently, the Government were convinced that this side of Cambridge needed better shops. Whether a motorist-oriented superstore is the best way to provide for this need is another matter.

Consultation has been taking place in connection with the Grand Arcade scheme for the area south of Lion Yard in Cambridge. We welcome the idea of concentrating shopping in the City Centre. We are also glad that the scheme does not involve increasing the amount of car parking -- existing levels will be retained (though part of Lion Yard Car Park will be closed during construction). But cycle parking is inadequate. The development is being promoted by the John Lewis group -- a pity they aren't putting their Waitrose store here!

Proposals have also been put forward for a factory outley centre at Sutton, near Ely. The developers have promised to provide half hourly buses to Ely centre and station. However, we are still concerned that it will attract car traffic as well as, possibly, abstracting trade from existing town centres. If it does go ahead, we are calling for the following minimum frequencies for buses running past the site:

Half hourly: Cambridge, Ely and March, including their railway stations, plus Chatteris, Haddenham, Sutton village, and Wilburton.

Hourly: Cottenham, Doddington, Earith, Histon, Huntingdon (including rail station), Mepal, St Ives, Stretham (roundabout), Waterbeach (A10), Wimblington, Wisbech, Witcham, Witchford.

2 hourly: Bluntisham, Colne, Hemingfords, Houghton/Wyton, Needingworth, Somersham.

At least 2 journeys: Coveney, Wardy Hill.

Existing services which would be partly replaced include the X55, X56, 110, 125, 157 and 355.

These proposals would result in regular through buses between Ely and Huntingdon. Ever since the withdrawal of Cambus 171 between Haddenham and Earith this has been one of the main missing links in the county network. We have also put suggested this route in connection with the proposed Alconbury Distribution Centre. The developer for this scheme has appealed against the refusal of permission for this scheme from Hunts DC, but the public inquiry has been postponed to allow details of the rail link to be agreed with Railtrack. In connection with its proposed East Coast Main Line upgrade, Railtrack is insisting on a flyover for access to the depot. They are planning to provide four tracks between Huntingdon and Peterborough, and we suggest that it would be best to use the flyover to move the southbound slow line west of the fast lines (with the proposed Werrington flyover used to bring it back). This would avoid the need for further flyovers to serve a north-facing connection off the depot, or the route via Fletton which we are proposing to provide a direct link to the East Coast.

We believe that the Alconbury development can help to reduce traffic on the A14 if handled properly. Another workshop has been held on this issue, organised jointly by the Highways Authority and Railtrack, and therefore bearing the acronym HART. The Coordinator and John Ratcliff attended on behalf of Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk. John will also be representing environmental interests at the forthcoming multi-modal studies into the Cambridge-Huntingdon section. The area-specific issues which we flagged up include the St Ives line reopening, our proposed ``A14 Express'' bus route, better bus/rail connections at Huntingdon (an issue on which we were gratified to be in full agreement with the Cambs CC representative), and the need for better crossing facilities for cyclists, pedestrians, and (where existing interchanges are congested, as at Milton) buses.

We understand that a Millennium project for Lolworth involves construction of a cycleway to Bar Hill. This will reduce car dependence in the village by enabling people bound for Cambridge to walk or cycle to Bar Hill to pick up a bus.

Finally, we understand that the East-West Rail Link project is still stalled, even though almost everyone agrees it should go ahead. Perhaps the breathing space could be used to study the St Ives route option which we regard as fundamental to the value of the route in serving the region. We hope that the A14 Multi-Modal Study will recommend this option.

Cambs Bus News -- Sundays.

As usual the County Council has produced a Sunday Bus Book giving details of all buses within the county (including Peterborough). Unfortunately, we have received two completely different versions of this book. The Council have told us that one was produced and rejected because of errors, but it seems that the other book, while correcting these errors, has introduced some new ones! Here is a summary of all the services in the book, including changes since last year.

Attractions: one book shows last year's routes for access.

X3 and X5 (Cambridge-Bedford/Oxford): Minor timing changes with some journeys changed from one route to the other.

X10 and X11 (Cambridge-Mildenhall/Lakenheath/Bury): New service -- see Newsletter 67.

X55 (Cambridge-March-Peterborough): diverts via Milton and Landbeach, rejoining A10 at Waterbeach Slap-up. X55 and X59 serve all stops south of March and part replace 19.

X59 (Cambridge-March-Kings Lynn): replaces X56, also serving Milton, Waterbeach and Ely.

X65 (Peterborough-Corby): No change, but timetable changes are due in September. We presume that these are in order to fit in with connecting service X64 to/from Northampton.

X94 (Peterborough-Yarmouth): Earlier buses, serving Eye in lieu of the Spalding route which is withdrawn (see Newsletter 66).

Whippet 1/200: One book shows two journeys on the Papworth Hospital route. These are not shown in Whippet's own leaflet, or the Cambs CC St Ives area timetable, but they are shown on the display at Drummer St. Certainly Papworth Hospital ought to have a Sunday service.

Cambus 2-8A: This is the Sunday network introduced in January, replacing former 92-98. Route 8A is omitted from one book.

Whippet 4: One book shows the Sunday service, the other the full timetable. Neither states the limit of Sunday Rover availability (which was Eaton Socon last year).

Viscount 18: New service between Queensgate and Orton via the new Serpentine shopping centre and nearby Hampton Hargate.

Biss Bros 38: This is now withdrawn on Sundays, but still shown in one of our books.

Viscount/Cavalier 51-54: This Peterborough City network replaces former 51-53, though the old routes and timetables for 51 and 52 are shown in one of our books.

Not shown in either book is Peterborough Open Top 60/61, which serves attractions in the Nene Valley and runs daily till 5 Sept.

Cambridge Coach Services 74-79: The invalidity of Sunday Rovers on these routes is omitted.

Delaine 102M (Peterborough-Bourne): An update has been issued for this service; times are now an hour later than shown in either book.

Myalls 102 (Cambridge-Saffron Walden): All journeys now serve Audley End en route to Saffron Walden, though only the last does so coming back. Northbound passengers can improve on the train connections shown by going via Stansted Airport.

Cambus 104 (Cambridge-Cottenham): Omitted from one book.

Myalls 113 (Cambridge-Haverhill/Clare): No change. This also applies to Arriva Shires 172 (Gamlingay-Bedford), Morley 701 (Peterborough-Coates) and First Leicester 747 (Peterborough-Leicester), except that the last was formerly run by a different operator.

Cambus 122 (Cambridge-Ely): A welcome new route via Bottisham, Lode, Burwell, Wicken and Soham. Replaces part 19.

Myalls 150 and Viscount 153 (Cambridge-Peterborough): earlier and later journeys introduced to/from Huntingdon. One book shows 153 as being operated by Cambus.

Neals 156 (Ely-Ipswich): No change but currently under threat (see later). This also applies to Whippet 640.

Cavalier 300 (Peterborough-Stamford): New route serving villages in Peterborough district -- see Newsletter 66.

Arriva 504 (Saffron Walden-Harlow): Out of county route continues to be shown -- no change.

Duxford Courtesy Bus: Free service between Cambridge and the Imperial War Museum.

Biss Bros 601 (Saffron Walden-Colchester): Winter timetable shown in both books, though this almost certainly won't be running this winter.

Eastern National 631-3 (Saffron Walden-Burnham on Crouch): This out of county route used to be shown (though not the connection with 38 which was available till last year) but is now omitted. However, it still runs, at times connecting with 102 at Saffron Walden.

We conclude this section by mentioning that not all operators seem to be aware of Sunday Rovers -- some drivers, when asked for them, give their own Explorer or Ranger tickets, and, if pressed, may say they are unable to issue Sunday Rovers. Stagecoach Explorers are accepted by some drivers on tendered services in Northants and Beds, but there is no documentation.

Other Sunday Rover news.

There is relatively little change in other counties. In Essex (including Thurrock) route 2 no longer runs between Romford and Basildon, and 379 between Rainham and Grays has been replaced by 324 (Romford-Bluewater) on which Sunday Rovers are not accepted. The Lee Valley Leisure Bus (which doesn't accept them either), is completely changed and now does regular circuits covering the valley between Waltham Cross/Abbey and Rye House. Norfolk, in addition to the services mentioned in Newsletter 66 and the Coastliner, has a route between Terrington, Kings Lynn and Grimston. The Terrington end replaces the short lived service to Spalding and Peterborough (see Newsletter 66).

Oxfordshire has put on some new services -- rail link 130 between Goring and Wallingford, and an extension of 329 (High Wycombe-Henley) to Reading via Binfield. Also the Ridgeway Explorer X47/X48 continues to link Reading, Wantage and Swindon by a highly scenic route giving access to the Ridgeway National Trail. As mentioned in Newsletter 67, Northamptonshire has an improved Sunday network in addition to the Saunterbus.

Two new rail routes have joined the network: Sudbury to Marks Tey (but not Colchester) and Wickford to Southminster. Tickets continue to be valid on the routes from Norwich to Sheringham, Saxmundham to Beccles, Colchester to Clacton, Walton or Harwich, Moor Park to Watford, Chesham or Aylesbury, and Denham to Aylesbury or Haddenham.

Now for the bad news. The East Anglia Daily Times of 7 August reported that much of the Suffolk Sunday network was under threat. In particular, routes 156, 640 and 649 (Haverhill-Lowestoft) were mentioned. Loss of these routes may hit route 200 (St Ives/Cambridge-Yarmouth) as the 640 and 649 connect with the 200. We have put forward an alternative strategy of a Bury Interchange, which would be fed from Cambridge (X11), Ely (156), Saffron Walden (extension of 649 replacing part 601 and running all year), Colchester (757, connecting from Ipswich)), and, in summer, Cambs and Newmarket area villages (640), and Lakenheath, Brandon and Thetford (replacing part 200), and running to Cambridge (X11), Yarmouth (replacing part 649 and 200 and connecting at Diss for Norwich), Colchester (757, connecting for Ipswich), and Mildenhall (757, connecting with a diversion of Cambs CC 122), and, in summer, Aldeburgh (new route part replacing 640 and 649, via Stowmarket, Debenham, Framlingham, Wickham Market, Orford and Snape, connecting at Framlingham for Laxfield, Halesworth, Southwold and Lowestoft), and Hunstanton (connecting with the Coastliner).

This is in addition to our proposals for a Cambridge-Ipswich service which would connect with 757 at Lavenham for Bury-Ipswich journeys, and at Long Melford for Haverhill-Colchester journeys. We were told that the three county councils met in June to discuss a replacement for the current network (113, 601 and 757), but don't know what was decided.

Cambs bus news.

We start with the reorganisation of the Cambridge Park & Ride network, scheduled for 25 August. This day will see the opening of the Babraham Road Park & Ride site, replacing the Clifton Road site, and the closure of Emmanuel Road to cars. It is also intended to recast the park & ride bus network, with more intermediate stops and buses running through north to south and east to west. One may note that this could not have happened had the Transport Tribunal not suspended the Traffic Commissioner's ban on changes to Cambus (see headline article). We welcome this development whole-heartedly. We also understand that there will be improvements to the Cambridge Megarider facility, which will hopefully cover all Cambridge area services operated by Stagecoach.

In the Peterborough area, we mentioned the Open Top Bus in the Sunday section, also new route 18. Both also run on weekdays. The Serpentine Shopping Centre is also served on weekdays by various local services (including routes operated by First Choice Travel) and by new routes 46-48, which run between Peterborough and Huntingdon, replacing former 351 group. The new network is a considerable improvement -- 2 buses per hour between Sawtry and Peterborough, and hourly services to the Alconburys, Glatton, Stilton and Folksworth, but unfortunately there is still no evening service connecting at Huntingdon with trains from London and buses to/from Cambridge.

This change inspired us to suggest further improvements: alternate journeys on Stilton's hourly service would, instead of serving Huntingdon, provide a new route to Northampton; similarly alternate journeys to the Alconburys would run via Thrapston to Kettering. Express routes X1 and X51 would divert via Sawtry, and a new 2 hourly local service would run via the Riptons and Holme. Also, further south, the Peterborough-Huntingdon locals, which now terminate at Hinchingbrooke, would extend to Brampton, as would the Chatteris and Ramsey services; while the 565 (St Neots-Huntingdon via Offord and Buckden) would extend to St Neots Tesco and cease to serve Brampton West End, and the 566 (via Little Paxton) would likewise extend to Tesco and divert north of Buckden via Offord and Godmanchester.

Various changes were made to the X3 and X5 between Cambridge and Bedford or Oxford. The route was diverted via Milton Keynes and Oxford rail stations, and through bus/rail tickets are now available by these railheads. Unfortunately westbound connections towards Swindon look as unreliable as before -- we would like the X5 to stop near the Botley Road Park & Ride in Oxford. We believe that the service will soon extend to Cambridge station -- which will, hopefully, improve reliability by loosening the schedules. The 07.50 ex Cambridge is now scheduled to arrive Bedford at 08.45 -- this should in principle connect with the 08.50 to Northampton, but this is still dubious in practice except on Saturdays. On Mondays to Fridays, there is now an earlier 06.35 to Bedford, which just misses the 07.35 Bedford to Northampton and 07.05 St Neots to Kimbolton. The 19.30 from Oxford is shown as a through service to Cambridge (which it has been for some time), and now runs at the same times on Sundays.

Weekday timings on the Stagecoach Express X10/X11 between Cambridge and Newmarket, Mildenhall, Lakenheath and Bury have been changed from what was originally planned. A stop at Bottisham on the A1303 is now served, but only on eastbound journeys! (Confusingly, this stop is described as ``near the White Swan'' which no longer exists as such.) As stated earlier, we hope that the X11 will return to Kentford when work on the bridge is finished -- and that Cambus will take the opportunity to run the westbound journeys on the A1303 instead of the A14, allowing a stop near Bottisham. Changes to the 111 and 122 route mean that the relevant parts of Bottisham continue to have a direct link to Cambridge, but the journey time to Newmarket is four times as long (indeed, passengers would normally do better to change at Cambridge Airport). We would also like to see a stop at the Park & Ride site to connect with 5A to/from Addenbrookes.

There have also been minor changes on route 44 between Cambridge and Haverhill, and new peak-time journeys on the 113. Finally, Cambs CC 125 has been completely revised; it now covers the Wardy Hill service, which has been diverted via Little Downham. Incidentally, anyone using the school service to Plains Lane (say, coming from the junction at Gold Hill where a side road turns east) should be able to walk from the terminus to Littleport Queens Road in time to catch the 16.50 back to Ely.

Timetable and Bus Station News.

The Southern Vectis timetable for Norfolk and Suffolk is now out -- one should be able to pick up copies free in libraries within the two counties. The timetables look as though they are intended to be comprehensive, but some routes appear to have been missed out, such as X98 (Kings Lynn-Cromer) and 177 (Kings Lynn-Attleborough).

Bedfordshire has issued a new series of five timetables which cover the whole of the county except Luton (which is now under a separate local authority, Dunstable and Bedford. The timetables are clear and comprehensive: for example they show a United Counties school service from Great Barford that can be used to visit the villages of Staploe and Duloe, which otherwise have one bus a week, and which featured in the campaign against the formerly proposed A1 motorway between Baldock and Alconbury.

In other counties in the area, except Northamptonshire, timetable production appears to have slipped and it is not always easy to get up to date information.

Kettering bus station is now closed. Some time ago Stagecoach United Counties planned to close it but a massive petition led to its retention. Has it now been so run down that people are no longer interested? Also closed is Birmingham Bull Ring bus station, but we believe this is only temporary. This one is even more run down, especially as compared with the 80s when it hosted regular services throughout the Midlands. There is a controversial plan to close the bus station in Norwich and let the buses use on-street stops near the Castle. If the plan goes ahead, it is not clear what will happen to express services, including Cambridge Coach Services 74.

Other non-seasonal services.

In Thurrock route 374 has now absorbed the 399 to offer a through service between West Horndon (which is in the area covered by Essex CC) and Lakeside.

In Bucks scenic route 49/94 between Chesham and Tring has entirely disappeared, being replaced by local buses at either end. A pity.

In South Humberside the X21 between Cleethorpes and Hull has been replaced by a 250 between Grimsby and Barton connecting for Hull. Unforunately, it still doesn't serve the railhad at Habrough, and the times duplicate rather than fill the gaps in the train service.

In Oxfordshire there is now a later bus from Swindon to Oxford, arriving at the latter in time for the 19.30 to Cambridge (see above).

The Chippenham Postbus services have been withdrawn, but some of the villages they serve, including well known Castle Combe, now have improved conventional services.

In Bedfordshire rail tickets to Harpenden, Luton and Leagrave are available at no extra cost for unlimited travel on certain local bus routes such as Luton-Dunstable. If wishing to use this facility and exiting at Luton station remember to ask for the barrier to be opened for you, rather than using the automatic barriers which will swallow your ticket!

We believe that the Northampton to Rugby service (Stagecoach Midland Red 88) has also been withdrawn; Northants CC has put on a replacement, but this only runs as far as Crick. This is indefensible -- people should be able to travel to Rugby, and, if this is by connection, it should be advertised.

The Wiltshire Wigglybus has three buses, serving circuits east of Devizes, and west and east of Pewsey. In principle one can connect between the three routes. There is no published timetable -- the service, though advertised to run at least hourly, is entirely demand responsive.

Interesting new or improved routes in the West Country include Exeter to Newton Abbot via Christow, and Taunton to Crewkerne; and in the Yorkshire Dales Ilkley to Grassington via Wharfedale, and Settle to Ingleton and Kirkby Lonsdale.

Those who visit London by National Express will observe that the controversial M11 Link Road is nearly ready. Presumably it will be used to bring coaches from the M25, via the M11 and Blackwall Tunnel, to the Dome. On alighting at Stratford one can take the new Jubilee Line Extension to North Greenwich, right next to the Dome, with bus interchange available. The route follows the North London Line to Canning Town (also served by the Docklands Light Railway) via West Ham (District Line and, now, the LTS Railway). The stations have the latest in ticket machines -- but they still can't provide railcard discounted travelcards. If visiting London you can consult timetables at Bishopsgate Library (near Liverpool St station, Mon-Fri -- this has some timetables not in Cambridge library) and buy Highlands & Islands timetables in the reopened Scottish Tourist Board shop near Charing Cross.

Long day trips.

Here are some seasonal transport facilities that are accessible by day trip at reasonable price from at least some parts of Cambs. However, in some cases a lot of travelling would be required, and members may prefer to do them as part of a longer holiday visit.

East Anglia: The ferry between Burnham on Crouch and Wallasea continues to operate at weekends, though unfortunately there's no bus between Wallasea and Rochford or Southend. The operator also runs longer boat trips, and a new facility this year is the wildlife cruise past Foulness Island. There's just one left this year, leaving Burnham at 14.40 on Wed 18 Aug. Bookings available on 01702 258600 or 258870.

We should also draw attention to Whippet's Coastlink which provides daily services to Yarmouth during the holiday period, and other seaside options on Tuesdays to Saturdays.

South: Many new or improved services this year. The Chartwell Explorer continues to meet certain trains at Sevenoaks (Wed-Sun in Aug plus 4-5 Sept), and the Tunbridge Wells Heritage Hopper (weekends to 26 Sept) at Tunbridge Wells. Chartwell, as well as Hever and Penshurst, are also accessible till 26 Sept by Sunday Visitor Bus 246 from Bromley and Tunbridge Wells. The operator of the 246, Metrobus, also runs many other routes in this area, including the recently reinstated Sunday services from East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells and Haywards Heath, Heart of Sussex Link 40 (Sundays till 12 Sept) from Haywards Heath to local attractions including the Bluebell Railway, route 77 from Brighton to the Devil's Dyke (daily in August, weekends in September); as well as ``Coastlink'' services from South London. Their Explorer tickets are valid on all these (except Coastlink south of East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells) and also interavailable with most other major operators in the area. Other routes include 78 (Brighton-Stanmer, Sundays) and the Cuckmere Rambler (weekends till 12 Sept), which connects at Berwick with trains from London before crossing the South Downs to Seven Sisters Country Park and returning by a different route. The Country Park is also served on Sundays by 713 to Eastbourne via Beachy Head. Another attraction is Bentley Wildfowl Reserve (129 from Brighton and Lewes).

Further west, in Surrey, 433 (Guildford and Dorking circular) runs weekends till end Oct. Note that the 448 is not running this year, and Sunday Rider tickets are no longer valid on trains between Guildford and Redhill.

West: Worthy of note is the Longleat Lion Link which runs, Sundays excepted, initially till 25 Sept, between Warminster (station and town centre) and Longleat. It is free to holders of return/rover rail/bus tickets valid to Warminster, and users can get a discount on the ``Longleat Passport'' covering most attractions in the estate. (A bus ride round the Safari Park is available at a reasonable extra cost and should be booked on arrival.) For best value, get a day return to Salisbury using the 08.35 from Waterloo on Saturdays, and re-book at Salisbury for Warminster. If you can't get round all you want in a day, the Passport enables further visits at no extra cost. If you don't need a full day for this, try going via Oxford and Swindon to Trowbridge, from which a lunchtime market day service runs near Longleat on Thursdays. The estate also owns the caves at Cheddar, served on Sundays by the Mendip Explorer from Bristol at 09.15 or 12.45.

Nearer at home, there are rail excursions from Marylebone in London which include a ride on part of the East-West Rail Link (between Aylesbury and Oxford) as well as a visit to the Buckinghamshire Steam Museum at Quainton Road. Ring 01438 812125 for details.

Midlands: The improved network in Hereford & Worcester is accessible by bus to Oxford then train. At Worcester here are some options, all using their Sunday Rover facility.

1. Alight Foregate St, walk to the bus station and get a bus to Longbridge, then train to Barnt Green for the North Worcestershire Wanderer at 13.35 to Kidderminster (till 19 Sept).

2. Get a bus to Malvern and change into the Malverns Hill Hopper (till 26 Sept). It is possible to continue to Hereford and the Wye Valley (see below).

3. Get the 10.40 bus from Shrub Hill station to Hereford. There's a tour of North Herefordshire (routes 292, 272 and 501, till 26 Sept) but the timetable does not permit spending any time in that area. Or get the 32, leaving at 12.00, to Ross and spend an afternoon in the Wye Valley, returning from Monmouth at 17.20 on route 234 to Great Malvern (until 26 Sept) for the 18.42 train back to Oxford.

Or try the Cannock Chase Explorer which runs weekends till 26 Sept. A combined ticket covers rail travel from any station in the West Midlands to Hednesford then unlimited travel on the bus which runs as far as Shugborough, a canal-side estate partly owned by the National Trust. Peterborough people should get a day return to Birmingham and rebook there; others go by bus to Northampton then train to Coventry and rebook there.

Another package from London (Weds and Thurs) covers rail travel to Chesterfield and vintage bus transfer to Hardwick Hall. Ring 0990 125242 for details. The bus used is the same as that on the Sunday service from Worksop (see Newsletter 67).

North York Moors. The Moorsbus network runs daily in August. On weekdays one can go by train to York or Thirsk (advance booking advised for cheapest rates, ring 08457 225225). Buses leave York at 09.05 or 09.50 returning 18.40 or 19.25, Thirsk 10.50 or 11.50 returning 18.35. The Moorsbus also runs on Sundays till the end of October.

Further afield...

We start with Wales and the West. The Dartmoor Sunday Rover, which includes the Exeter to Okehampton and Plymouth to Gunnislake lines, is running again this year till end Sept, but Lopwell Dam route 155 has been withdrawn. The Exmoor Visitor network runs daily till 26 Sept. In Wales, the Beacons Rambler is running on Sundays till 12 Sept, with buses linking from Hereford, Newport and Swansea, and from Merthyr with rail link from Cardiff. Further west the Puffin Express runs daily to 3 Oct along the Pembrokeshire Coast between Milford Haven and St Davids. Ask if it connects with boats to islands such as Skomer -- and complain if it doesn't! In North Wales, as well as the ever popular Snowdon Sherpa, there's a new network of services to Loggerheads Country Park sponsored by Denbighshire County Council (01824 706968) on Sundays in August.

Shropshire and the North: There's an all-year network round Shrewsbury and Telford, and until 26 Sept a National Trust service links Church Stretton to the Long Mynd at weekends. Like the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales summer season now runs till 31 Oct -- and many services axed in recent years have been reinstated. The Peak District's summer services run till 24 Oct, and there's a fair winter network too. And in the Scottish Highlands, don't forget the route from Fort William and Aviemore to the Cairngorms (daily till 26 Sept, see Newsletter 67).

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