Cambridgeshire Campaign for Better Transport

Newsletter 99, April 2008


Every now and then the European Union does something which leads Eurosceptics to say "I told you so", confirmed Europhiles to give excuses, and the rest of us to wonder whether the EU is determined to spoil its public image.

An example is the Biofuels Directive, which has been nicknamed the "Biofools Directive". This requires that all fuel used for transport must contain a proportion which has been obtained from crops rather than fossil fuels.

An article which shows why biofuels can't work was published in the Guardian on Tue Feb 12 2008, written by George Monbiot -- see "The Last Straw" on In short, his argument is that biofuels can only be grown by either taking land from food production -- this has already contributed to large rises in the price of basic foods this year which have hit many people in poorer countries -- or by removing fertility from the soil, which would be the effect of so called "second generation biofuels" (when they are developed). There may be exceptions, such as used chip fat and other post-agricultural waste, but these can only provide a tiny fraction of what is needed to support our transport-intensive economy.

Fortunately, publicity for these problems has forced politicians to think again. The same cannot be said of a second EU directive -- that imposing strict limits on the working hours of bus drivers. Let's call this the "busofools directive". In fact the regulations are mainly aimed at lorry drivers, but our objection relates solely to their application to buses.

One motive for the directive might be the desire to avoid exploitation. However drivers themselves have shown no enthusiasm for the regulations. They know they are in a marginal industry where unnecessarily tight regulations can put their jobs at risk. The Winter 2007/8 issue of "Bus User", the organ of Bus Users UK to which we are affiliated, carried a letter from a bus company, in a rural area where choice is limited, complaining that their viability was being undermined because they could no longer combine evening coach outings for groups with school workings.

However, the main motive for the regulations is safety. But it is likely that they will be counter-productive from this point of view. If buses don't turn up because drivers have exceeded their permitted hours while sitting in a traffic jam, or if bus routes are fragmented to keep within the limits, people will turn to their cars. Cars are about 10 times more dangerous per passenger mile than buses. And the fumes they emit will also cause damage to people's health, including people waiting for buses that don't turn up because of the regulations.

Roughly speaking, the regulations are as follows:

1. Any driver of a route longer than 50km must abide by EU driving hours limits, which are more stringent than the domestic limits that apply to shorter bus routes. This increases the chance that sections of route may have to be omitted irrespective of the inconvenience and indeed hardship (e.g. in adverse weather) caused to passengers waiting at bus stops without any information about what is going on.

2. If a driver is ever employed on such a long run, then all his/her work for the relevant period must be on vehicles fitted with tachographs, which record the movements of the bus. This means, for example, that a bus operator cannot bring in a double decker to deputise for a single decker at times of high demand unless the former is fitted with a tachograph. It also increases the chance of severe disruption to passengers when buses, or trains for that matter, break down, because the available pool of both drivers and vehicles is restricted.

3. Our own Vehicle & Operators Services Agency have laid down strict rules determining what an operator has to do in terms of splitting a service if it is desired to have the service outside the scope of the EU rules. Roughly speaking, the guideline is the inconvenience to passengers who wish to make through journeys.

We illustrate these points with a story which describes an analogy between a fictional and real life situation. An explanation of how points in the story correspond to the real life situation is given in the form of notes after the story.

Recently I was talking to my friend Tom about how the implementation of the new European driving hours regulations were accelerating the disintegration of this country's rural bus network when he told me that he had encountered a similar situation elsewhere and, yes, the effects had been worse than I could imagine.

Tom said he had recently returned from a hitch-hiking trip in Douglas Adams's galaxy which had included a visit to Frogstar World B at around the time of the Shoe Event Horizon. According to the description in Chapter 10 of "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" given by Pizpot Gargravarr, shoe shops crowded out all other retail activity, leading to famine and a resolution that feet would never walk the planet again. In Chapter 8 the planet is described as "the most totally evil world in the Galaxy". However, according to Tom, Pizpot Gargravarr gave an oversimplified version of the events leading up to the Shoe Event Horizon, and Tom proceeded to tell me his version of what really happened.

Following pressure from local authorities who were fed up of getting sued by pedestrians who had tripped up on their pavements, the Frogstar Union of Planetary Systems prepared a Directive on Pedestrian Safety which they hoped would deal with the problem.

Campaign groups representing walkers suggested that tripping up on pavements was a negligible problem compared with being run over by motor vehicles (1), and furthermore that to the extent that tripping up on pavements was a problem it would help if vehicles were stopped from parking there so that they weren't continually subjected to weights for which they were not designed. These suggestions were met with the total disdain that greets all ideas involving restrictions on motor vehicles for the benefit of those who don't use them (2).

A manufacturer came up with a high tech shoe which was guaranteed not to slip on even broken pavements, provided the shoe wasn't overused. To guard against the latter a chip was inserted into the shoe which, after a period of use, would activate a device that would make further walking so uncomfortable that the wearer would have to rest until the shoe could recover its non-slip feature.

FUPS came up with a draft directive that it should be illegal to sell pairs of shoes of other types. This led to immediate outrage from many sections of the public.

The poverty lobby said that many inhabitants couldn't afford these high tech shoes (3). The reply was that public safety was more important than money.

The countryside lobby said that country walking would become impossible because of the weight of the several pairs of shoes that inhabitants would have to take with them to cover a long walk (4). The reply was that country walking was an elitist activity because few footpaths were usable by disabled inhabitants, and, indeed, local authorities were afraid of a lawsuit which, if lost, would require them to upgrade the footpath network so that it could be negotiated by wheelchair users. This issue encouraged developers to push all the harder for the draft directive because if the public were prevented from enjoying the countryside it would become easier for them to get permission to build on it.

The health lobby said that if inhabitants were prevented from going on long walks obesity would rise. The reply was that they could always go to gyms or playing fields.

In due course the directive was enacted. The opposition had become muted when a loophole was pointed out -- that the directive would only prohibit the sale of pairs of shoes, and that non-compliant single shoes could still be sold (5).

This loophole was officially justified as a reasonable compromise on the grounds that selling shoes in pairs was anti-competitive (as it effectively prevented inhabitants from buying a left shoe from one manufacturer and a right shoe from another) and discriminatory (against amputees or inhabitants with feet of different sizes) (6).

On all the other worlds of the Frogstar system, things were left at that. On Frogstar B, however, the relevant regulatory body ruled that the loophole could only be used if steps were taken to ensure that shoes were really being bought singly. For example retailers would not be allowed to sell both shoes of a pair in a single shop, nor to offer any kind of reservation facility whereby someone buying one shoe could ensure that its twin was available in another shop (7).

Many people reacted to this by wearing unpaired shoes. However, following a spate of shoe bomb attacks, originally motivated by other issues but exacerbated by protestors against the way the new directive was being implemented, such people immediately became terrorist suspects liable to detention without trial for ever lengthening periods.

This led to increasing panic and a proliferation of shoe shops, as people desperately tried to find a pair of shoes they could walk in as long as they liked at a price they could afford (8). Many people tried to make their own shoes -- which led to an outbreak of mass poisoning (9). It was the ensuing chaos, said Tom, that paved the way for the Shoe Event Horizon.

(1) This corresponds to the fact that, as we said, travelling by bus is about 10 times safer than travelling by car, and, in terms of the likelihood of killing or injuring someone else the discrepancy between the modes is even greater. Despite this, there are no proposals for driving hours regulation for motorists.

(2) Frogstar B resembles the UK here!

(3) This corresponds to the regulations requiring buses used on longer distance services to be fitted with tachographs to log running time. The cost of this has to be borne by the bus industry, even though the economics of many bus services are marginal and, in the case of supported services, local authorities are strapped for cash.

(4) Access to the countryside by public transport users may be greatly hindered by the legislation. In the Yorkshire Dales an operator withdrew from a contract for a key service as a direct result of the legislation. A substitute operator was found, but the higher cost means it runs less often, and when it does run it's limited to a less scenic route because an arch on the former route can't take any of their tachograph-fitted coaches.

(5) As we said, buses on routes of less than 50km are not covered by the EU directive, so operators have been encouraged to split services up into sections of less than this distance.

(6) Several years ago the Office of Fair Trading announced that it would investigate issues of anti-competitive behaviour when routes, usually longer distance routes through the "territory" of more than one operator, were jointly operated. This led to the splitting up or even withdrawal of many such routes.

(7) The (UK) Vehicle & Operators Services Agency -- let's rename it the Vehicle & Operators Government Oversight Network (VOGON) for reasons that will be apparent to any Douglas Adams fan -- has ruled that to escape the EU directive buses must not only change drivers but all the passengers have to get off too, and no point to point through fares can be offered (even though many operators offer them for journeys that have never been covered by through buses). Whether the issue of area-wide tickets provides a way out of the last requirement is unclear.

(8) It may seem that the analogy breaks down here because we aren't getting a proliferation of buses as a result of the implementation of the EU directive. Rather, people are getting out of buses and into cars (see next note). But, with the implications of climate change for the need to move to a low carbon economy, the effects of increasing car dependence can be quite as harmful as the effects of the Shoe Event Horizon on Frogstar B. See the new book "Oil Apocalypse" by Vernon Coleman for an (admittedly highly alarmist) prediction of the effects of over-dependence on fossil fuels, and note that even if the author's arguments are only fractionally true we're in big trouble.

(9) However, here the analogy is very much to the point. In recent decades people have indeed shifted from buses to "drive yourself", and this has indeed had harmful effects on the air we breathe. Incidentally, the reference to "poisoning by shoe manufacture" is taken from the recent case of the writer Joan Brady, who recently received an out of court settlement from a shoe manufacturer as a result of damage to her health attributed to the solvents used.

Branch News

We apologise for the long delay to this newsletter, which we had hoped to put out much earlier. One result of this is that we have a bumper crop of news. We were tempted to hold some of it back for our 100th issue, which will contain a retrospective article about what has happened since we started up, but we took the view that we had already held the news back long enough. It may be that we'll have to pay higher postage rates for members who will also be getting copies (with minor updates) of the reports presented to our AGM, but as a one off this won't be too expensive.

Our new web address (see front of newsletter) is now active, though the old one still works. However, we haven't yet opened a bank account under our new name. It will soon be time for members to renew for 2008-9; if you wish, you can send a cheque to the Treasurer made payable to our "old" account, Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk, but please do not wait weeks (say, more than a month) and then send a cheque payable to this account, as by then it might have closed. (Actually, it will probably take longer, but don't count on it.)

The Nottinghamshire Campaign for Better Transport has issued a warning about the effects of new data protection regulations on National Supporters. We are not 100% sure of their effect, but if you are a National Supporter please write to or email the Campaign for Better Transport headquarters (see front of newsletter for contact details) saying that you consent to their passing on your contact details to us. We have a policy of treating national supporters living within our area as full group members without the need for any supplementary subscription, but we are unable to do this if we don't know who they are.

We welcome two new branch members: Cambridge City Councillor Sian Reid; and Carol Woodhouse of Lakenheath, who following a letter to the organ of Bus Users UK (to which we are affiliated) was put in touch with the Campaign for Better Transport, who were looking for stories of hardship caused by bus cuts, and subsequently went to a meeting with minister Rosie Winterton MP, who admitted knowing little about rural transport (so what's she doing as minister, one's tempted to ask). Plus a national supporter Janet Sparrow, who was elected as our membership secretary at the recent AGM. Note also the other change in our committee: South Cambs Councillor Stephen Harangozo has stood down as chair and been replaced by Alan Quick.

Down to Earth Travel: Last time we promised an article, to mark the opening of St Pancras International, on travelling long distances without flying. Our main sources are the Thomas Cook European and Overseas timetables, the Seat 61 website and the January 2008 issue of Railway Gazette International, which has news on railways around the world.

We have also indicated where new links are planned, also where they have been under discussion as possible future projects (however remote). We believe that the world needs to make a concerted effort to reduce the amount of flying. Top priority is to solve political problems which hamper overland travel (and, usually, have much more serious consequences for local people), but imaginative infrastructure projects also have a role to play.

Please note the following:

1. While surface travel is generally more environment friendly than flying, it only has a positive eco-impact if the journey has to be made anyway. There is little difference in fuel efficiency between travel by rail and bus -- though for freight transport rail is much more efficient then road, and for passengers it is more likely to attract people who might otherwise fly or drive.

2. Luxury cruise liners are not to be recommended, as in general they use even more fuel per passenger than planes.

3. Travelling on cargo boats, some of which are allowed to carry up to 12 passengers, is fairly environment friendly as they have to travel anyway. However, we do not consider them in this article because they are difficult to plan in advance. (For the same reason we do not consider routes, such as most crossings of the Sahara, shown as "occasional service by truck" in the Thomas Cook Overseas timetable.)

4. While the more adventurous may be prepared to rough it on roads through less developed countries, we suspect that the majority of people looking for an alternative to flying would not be prepared to do so. So we restrict our attention to those routes for which only short stretches would have to be made by bus, with the majority of the trip being by rail.

There are several reasons why rail may be not be available on a given corridor.

We now go through the inhabited continents. All city spellings are as in the Thomas Cook timetables, though sometimes for clarity we add versions that may be more familiar to British people.

Europe: There are few problems in getting anywhere by rail. Furthermore nowadays there are no border controls when travelling between almost all continental countries. In fact all EU members (except most of the island nations -- the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, but not Malta) are either already in the Schengen agreement or planning to join it in the near future, as are some non-EU countries including Norway and Switzerland.

On the principle that cross border travel should be no harder than travel within a country, the European Passengers Federation has published a study of all border crossings within the EU plus some external border crossings.

For offshore islands a ferry may be necessary, though there is of course a fixed link to continental Europe from Britain, also from the main islands of Denmark via both Jutland and Sweden. And one may also need to use a bus if one's final destination is not served by rail or ferry. Some particular cases:

Ireland: Needs a ferry -- though an all-Ireland organisation called the Centre for Cross Border Studies has put forward a case for a bridge link to Scotland which it says could be built by 2030. A more recent report commissioned by the Association of Train Operating Companies which looks forward to 2057 suggests a tunnel to Wales, though this seems unnecessarily long. Incidentally, it is worth drawing attention to the good value through rail/sea fares obtainable through the Sailrail scheme.

Baltic States and Finland: There is a daily train from the Polish border to Lithuania's capital, Vilnius. There are less frequent trains from there to Riga, the capital of Latvia, and no trains at all from there to Estonia. Any land route to Finland involves a detour, and only the route via Russia can be done by train. This means that one has the following options:

The EU has a "Rail Baltica" plan which promises to improve links through the area -- we hope that something can be done in time for Tallinn's stint as "European Capital of Culture" in 2011.

Albania and Kosovo: The first has no external rail links, and roads crossing the border may have political problems, so get the ferry from Bari (Italy). In the wake of the recent declaration of independence for Kosovo we have no information about crossing the (rail served) borders with Serbia and Macedonia.

Middle East: One can get by train from London to Istanbul, by ferry to Haydarpasa (with a possible fixed rail link in future), and then by train to Iran, Syria and Amman in Jordan. Aleppo and Dimashq (Damascus) have buses to Bayrut (Beirut). It is possible to get from Amman to Israel via Allenby Bridge, though if one's passport has an Israeli stamp one will not be able to return through Syria. Iraq is of course a "no go" area, and there are numerous problems for non-Moslems in Saudi Arabia. There are buses from Israel to Egypt, and it is also possible to bypass Israel by getting a bus to Al Aqabah (Aqaba, Jordan) then a ferry to Nuweiba (Egypt). Egypt has a good internal rail system covering the Nile delta and valley.

Africa (beyond Egypt): The "Cape to Cairo" route sought by Cecil Rhodes was completed except for sections between Aswan (Egypt) and Wadi Halfa (Sudan), which is bridged by a ferry on what is now Lake Nasser, and between Waw (Sudan) and Kindu (Democratic Congo). However there are major political problems in the south of Sudan, and many of the border crossings beyond there have been severed.

Other routes to the south are also problematic thanks to political problems in Algeria and the Occupied Western Sahara, as well as the general lack of trade across the Sahara Desert. So it is hard to go beyond North Africa by scheduled surface transport.

Morocco is best entered by ferry from Algeciras to Tanger (Tangier). There are ferries from Marseille to Alger (Algiers) and other Algerian cities. Numerous ferries link Europe with Tunis. Libya is accessible by bus from both east and west, but there are problems getting a visa for Libya, and if your passport has evidence of a visit to Israel you may be refused access to Libya (or Sudan).

Libya is building railways, and there has been suggestion of a possible tunnel between Spain and Morocco. As for free access across the Middle East, we can only hope...

Asia (beyond the Middle East: Political problems in the Caucasus mean that none of the borders with railways are open. Georgia can be reached by bus from Samsun and Trabzon (Turkey) to Batumi, and from there one can go by train to the former Soviet republic of Armenia. Azerbaijan can be reached via Russia or Ukraine. There are several plans for new rail links that will take advantage of those borders where free flow is possible, such as Turkey to Georgia.

The line through Iran linking with the eastern city of Zahedan is expected to be completed this year, after which it should theoretically be possible to travel by train via Quetta to the rest of Pakistan and India, but political problems in Baluchistan may prevent this. One must hope that the opportunity of through travel on this corridor will provide a stimulus for all parties to come to a settlement. Meanwhile there are buses from Bam to Zahedan, and possibly onwards to Quetta. There are also buses from India to Nepal (leaving from Gorakhpur) and as well as buses there's a new train service to Bangladesh leaving from Kolkata (Calcutta).

Most populated parts of Siberia (the part of Russia east of the Urals) are accessible by train. For the republics of former Soviet Central Asia, except Turkmenistan, go via Russia, which has trains to Toshkent (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) connecting for the famed cities of Samarqand (Samarkand) and Bukhoro (Bukhara), and on to Dushanbe (Tajikistan); or change at Lugovoy (Kazakhstan) for Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan); or at Aktogay (Kazakhstan) for China (see below). In this area too there is the prospect of new routes to circumvent political problems.

The first major Chinese city on the above route is Urumqi (Urumchi), from which trains run to Kashi (Kashgar), as well as a main route to the most populous parts of China. One can change off this route at Lanzhou for the new train to Lhasa.

The other route to the Far East is the Trans-Siberian railway. Travel all the way to Vladivostok for a ferry to Niigata (Japan), from which the rest of the country is easily reached. There are also two routes to Beijing, one going through Mongolia; and there is even a through train to Pyongyang (North Korea). The two Koreas are in a process of detente so one might be able to get through to South Korea at some time in the future, and eventually through to Japan via a tunnel that has been mooted. Meanwhile if one wants to go to South Korea there are ferries from Japan and China.

Finally, there is a process of economic cooperation between between the ASEAN (Association of SE Asian Nations) countries which means that there are no problems in principle in travelling from China to any of the countries east of Burma. Even Cambodia is becoming safe for travel. There are trains to Vietnam, then buses from Saigon (with some ferry options as alternatives for part of the route) through Cambodia to the Thai border, from which one can get all the way to Singapore by train through Butterworth (for Penang), Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Or one can go through Laos, using a bus from Hanoi to the capital, Vientiane, which will soon be linked to the Thai rail system (the line has already crossed the border to its outskirts). The shortest bus journey would be from Vinh (Vietnam) to Vientiane, but there is probably no service by this route. It is reported to be possible to get through from Hue or Danang changing at the border. In the long term there is the prospect of ASEAN bridging the rail gap through Cambodia.

From Butterworth, one can get by ferry via Penang to island hop by bus and train through Indonesia -- it's not clear how far, but certainly past Bali.

Australia: There are no scheduled ferry links with Asia, but all that's needed for a through route from London is a ferry from Indonesia (see above) to Darwin, linking with the new railway to the southern cities. An alternative route could run through Indonesia to West Papua then by ferry from somewhere on New Guinea via Cape York to Cairns on Australia's east coast, but Papua New Guinea "has little organised public transport" according to Thomas Cook.

North and South America: About 1000 years ago the Vikings island hopped to America. However in the 21st century scheduled boats will only get one as far as Iceland, with a gap to Newfoundland before public transport (by bus) resumes. The "short sea" route to America via Siberia is too remote to have any organised surface transport, though some Alaskans have a vision of a through rail link that way which would help to open up the vast mineral wealth of Siberia.

If one can get to the east coast of North America, there are several trans-continental rail routes to take one to the west and in between. But cross the Mexican border and the bus becomes king and stays that way throughout Latin America: there are rail routes in most countries but they don't link up very well. Buses run through to the southern extremity at Punta Arenas, with the exception of the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia.

Finally, let us mention Ozbus This enterprise saw considerable publicity last year when it announced regular mainly overland trips between London and Sydney. While the route is liable to change in line with local conditions, the advertised route through Asia currently follows much the same corridor as the rail route to India mentioned above; thereafter it now goes through Burma to Thailand, as above to Indonesia, through to East Timor from which one has to fly to Darwin (for some trips the flight has been from Bali). Note that one has to book for the whole journey, and there is plenty of sightseeing en route so it takes a lot longer than independent overland travel (3 months).

Ozbus have launched a service between Istanbul and Kathmandu, and are planning to go to Africa and New York (details awaited, but the latter will involve a flight across the Bering Sea).

Book Review

In our Newsletter 87 (June 2004) we reviewed the book "Air Madness" by former branch member Cedric Pulford. A new edition of this book has now been published, considerably revised and much better value for money in terms of cost per page even if it hadn't been improved, which we think it has, so even people who have the old (2nd) edition may wish to buy the new one.

The book expounds an analogy between the development of aviation and road transport. Unfortunately, the author takes the view that the latter has gone too far to be reversible, and all he can offer those who are adversely affected by road traffic is the alternate history we reproduced in our last review.

The book goes through the gamut of issues on the downsides of aviation -- climate change, noise, health, privacy -- and exposes the failure of the industry to demonstrate any significant economic benefits. All forms of aviation are discussed, from commercial passenger flights to police helicopters, military training to private flying. The threat that "flying cars" might become as common as cars are now is discussed, as it was in the previous edition, but is here somewhat mitigated by safety problems, though the author wonders whether a degree of "collateral damage" may be accepted by the influential people in society just as our current rate of road casualties is now (though not by sustainable transport advocates).

The cover price of the book is GBP 10.99, but it may be obtainable at a discount by contacting the publishers ITURI Publications, ISBN 9 780953 643080.

National issues

We start with the Local Transport Bill which is still going through Parliament. It has been agreed that the envisaged passenger representation for bus users will be in the form of an extension to the powers of the existing rail watchdog Passenger Focus. The Bill will bring some other benefits, but it won't tackle the key issue of the ding-dong argument between central and local government as to who is to blame for service cuts.

Eco-towns. These are to be a series of new developments designed to minimise environmental impact. The Town & Country Planning Association, a national affiliate of the Campaign for Better Transport, was commissioned by the Government's Department for Communities & Local Government to set standards for eco-towns.

The Transport Worksheet suggests that up to 75% of ecotown movements could be by means other than the car, and in particular recommends the following:

(a) Car ownership should be kept low with car-free areas covering a significant proportion of the eco-town.

(b) Traffic speeds should be kept low.

(c) Land use design should be on the principle of "filtered permeability", whereby lower impact transport modes would have greater choice of routes through the developments.

(d) There should be a Eco-town Travel Plan which would include provision of a car club as a substitute for car ownership as well as high quality public transport.

We believe that the Travel Plan should cover links to places outside the eco-town, both local villages (whose inhabitants may need to go there for work, shopping etc.) and strategic routes linking with the national public transport network. Ideally, such transport improvements would, by securing a modal shift away from the car in surrounding areas, make the eco-town "traffic neutral" in that the traffic it generates is fully offset by traffic reduction elsewhere.

We are disappointed that there is little sign that access to the rail network will be a key factor in the location of eco-towns.

Northstowe is not officially an eco-town, even though it has been mentioned as such. However it is among the places listed in the Scoping Report as to be monitored to help develop eco-town policy, and we are recommending that it should be built to eco-town standards as far as transport is concerned -- this being particularly important as we need to minimise the generation of traffic on the A14 corridor (on which more later).

Danger -- alley gaters at work: Having mentioned "filtered permeability" above, one should however add that a few years ago the Government introduced legislation which makes it easier for local authorities to close rights of way -- so called "alley gating" -- where it is believed that they contribute to crime. (Motorists are of course the most frequent lawbreakers -- and often in life-threatening ways such as speeding -- but as usual this is ignored.) There are safeguards to stop local authorities acting wantonly, but effectively the ultimate end of such a programme would be a land use pattern in which walking and cycling was restricted to fast roads, apart from cul de sacs leading off them. Many modern estates have exactly this sort of layout, and when visiting them one feels that they are shouting "Drive!" at one, making them the very antithesis of sustainability.

Cambridge has been the victim of alley gating for some time; this has happened because many traditional walking routes through university and college grounds are not rights of way. As a result measures ostensibly to "control" tourism have made it impossible for Cambridge people (including university people themselves) to use many of the most attractive walking routes when going about their daily business.

A walking route has also been lost recently in Peterborough: this is the Railworld bridge over the River Nene. Here the problem is a dispute about who should pay for maintenance.

Connect 2: In December the public were invited to cast a vote on how 50m pounds of lottery money was to be spent. The overwhelming winner was Connect 2 -- a project of Sustrans, the organisation best known for overseeing the development of the National Cycle Network. Connect 2 is a series of projects to develop local walking and cycling routes by building missing links. It includes three schemes in our area -- better access east of the River Cam in the Wicken Fen area, a new bridge over the Great Ouse in St Neots, and a new crossing of the railway in Royston. Also considered was a proposal to bridge the A1 near Sandy but that was dropped.

Concessionary bus passes: We welcome in principle the advent of free bus travel for holders of senior citizen and disabled concessionary bus passes. This entitles people over 60 or subject to some forms of disability and living in England to free bus travel anywhere in England between 09.30 and 23.00 Mondays to Fridays and any time at weekends and on bank holidays. There is provision within the legislation to exclude special purpose services like sightseeing tours and park & ride buses, and long distance coaches are included only if they are registered as local buses (as is, for example, the X5 between Cambridge and Oxford), but otherwise any route is covered. Under "Coach News" we list registered sections of National Express coach routes within the area we cover.

Local authorities also have powers to extend the range of services covered to include buses at other times, unregistered sections of express coach routes, trams, and local trains, but such extensions will normally only be available to people living within the relevant district (or, sometimes, county). Information about such extensions, and about excluded services, is patchy. There is a single scheme covering the whole of Cambridgeshire including Peterborough; the leaflet on the Cambridgeshire website says "from 09.30 to the last bus" but the leaflet on the Peterborough website makes no mention of services after 23.00. There is an additional extension for blind and partially sighted people, who can travel at any time on journeys within (Cambridgeshire leaflet) or from (Peterborough leaflet) anywhere in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We suspect that the discrepancies between the two leaflets are because one or both of them is inaccurate.

The operator will be reimbursed in respect of a journey made by a passholder by the district or unitary council (not the county council) for the stop where the bus is boarded. We believe it would be better if the money was paid by the local authority where the passholder lives -- and would also encourage the offering of more extensions of validity. However, although the passes store information about the local authority where the passholder lives, buses do not normally have smartcard readers which would enable this type of reimbursement to be applied. We hope that operators will be given incentives to install smartcard readers as soon as possible so that the system of reimbursement can be changed.

Operators are supposed to be reimbursed on a "revenue neutral" basis (as has long been the case for concessionary travel by bus), in other words the operator should receive the same amount of reimbursement as the revenue they would have received had pensioners been required to pay full fare. However, the latter can only be estimated, and the introduction of the nationwide scheme has been marred by accusations of penny pinching on all sides. It is a pity that the Government didn't see the scheme as an opportunity to encourage an increase in revenue support to help stop continuing service cuts in many parts of the country.

There may be another problem in that if a large proportion of an operator's revenue from a given service comes from concessionary fares, there is an incentive to push ordinary fares up as even if this results in a loss of non-passholders this may be offset by an increase in reimbursement in respect of passholders, who won't be affected by the fare rise as they don't have to pay it themselves. Our remedy for this is greater control of buses by local authorities, as in a Quality Contract.

One question which passholders may wish to ask is if they can get to London free. From Cambridge, this would have been easy when there was the 38 between Cambridge and London via Haverhill and Saffron Walden, and before that the 797 via Stevenage and the 798 via Ware, which offered good day trip facilities (except for the 797 towards the end of the period when it served Cambridge, when the service was fairly meagre). There also used to be Whippet 4 from St Ives, Huntingdon and St Neots. Now things are much more difficult. The best way from Cambridge to the West End is probably to catch National Express 787 to Luton Airport then Greenline 757, but on Mondays to Fridays one can't leave Cambridge before 11.00, arriving at Baker Street at 13.42. One can however return well after the evening peak and still get back to Cambridge by 23.00 (when passes cease to be valid) -- leaving Marylebone at 20.08 should allow sufficient margin.

Rail issues

We start with the installation of gates at Cambridge station. This is part of a national programme of "gating" that is also affecting other stations in our area, but at Cambridge it is particularly harmful because there are so many facilities beyond the barrier: the help desk with timetables, information about engineering work, the newsletters of the Fen Line Users Association and, more recently (on Platform 6) the Mid Anglia Railway Passengers Association, lavatories, a newsagent (which is an outlet for national rail timetables), refreshments, a payphone, postbox and a cash machine. Gating is also harmful in stations with more than one entrance (and we would like to see an eastern entrance to Cambridge station in combination with the proposal for a new island platform) in that it can prevent non-travellers from getting across, or intending travellers from getting to the ticket office. With the new development east of the railway in St Neots, that station too will soon be needing another entrance.

Naturally we have no objection to adequate ticket checks, but in continental Europe this is normally carried out on the train, so why must we be different? Neither do we subscribe to the theory that people who pay the correct fare strongly resent those who travel without tickets (unless they behave anti-socially on the train at least): do motorists agitate for strong parking enforcement on such grounds?

Given the likely spread of smartcards such as the London Oystercard, one option might be to allow access to the station platforms at a zero fare for up to (say) 15 minutes. This would allow people to reach an alternative entrance where this exists, and also allow for activities such as seeing people off, as well as usage of the facilities at Cambridge.

Some good news is the approval of the upgrade of the railway between Felixstowe and Nuneaton for freight, so that it can take larger containers. This should remove many lorries from the A14 and other roads, and also relieve the congested railway routes via London. We would very much like to see major capacity improvements, removing the remaining sections of single line and improving the signalling so freight and passenger trains can run at frequent intervals.

Elsewhere we welcome the reopening of the Ebbw Vale line in Wales. Trains run hourly (2 hourly on Sundays) between Ebbw Vale Parkway and Cardiff, with dedicated bus links (weekday daytimes) to Ebbw Vale town centre and between Rogerstone and Newport.

Not so good news is the closure of the East London Line. This is in order to prepare for work to extend it to Highbury, Clapham Junction and Croydon as part of the London Overground. However, why is there no replacement bus service, or any other bus service (such as the 395 that ran not too long ago), through the Rotherhithe (road) Tunnel?

Northstowe and the A14

An outline planning application for Northstowe was recently submitted to South Cambridgeshire District Council, and as stated above we suggested that the town should be designed to "eco-town" standards as far as transport was concerned.

We also made some comments about the phasing of the development: we feared that early residents might find themselves locked into a cycle of car dependence. Also we called for planning of adequate public transport routes to link the town both with neighbouring villages and with the strategic transport network to facilitate longer distance travel e.g. to London.

As we said, one motivation for our recommendation was the increasing cost of the A14. The scheme worked up by the Highways Agency is based on the recommendations of the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study (CHUMMS), though several elements that would have helped sustainable travellers were dropped. CHUMMS, presumably with Highways Agency involvement (as they were on the steering group) costed the scheme at 192m pounds.

By the time the Highways Agency had worked up the scheme for consultation the cost had more than doubled to 490m pounds. The latest estimate is nearly doubled again, at 944m pounds.

We believe that the Highways Agency need to rethink and drastically scale down the scheme. Traffic management measures such as road pricing and busways should be used to limit demand, as well as the development of alternatives like the Felixstowe to Nuneaton railway (see above) and a similar north-south route linking the Channel Tunnel with the eastern side of England. And, as we have already said, design Northstowe so as to minimise generated traffic.

As well as being expensive, the A14 is one of the worst Highways Agency road schemes for climate change. The Campaign for Better Transport has taken advantage of the answer to a parliamentary question to work out the "Top Ten" worst schemes based on official appraisal.

The A14 is by far the worst non-motorway scheme, increasing emissions by more than four times as much as the next worst (on the A46). It also challenges two motorway schemes (on the M62 and M25) very closely for overall second place, the worst of all being one of the M1 widening schemes.

Cambs bus strategy

Last autumn the county council consulted on a bus strategy document. Our response, together with a link to the original document, can be found in the "Documents" section of our website. Here are some of the highlights (numbered paragraphs are responses to the same number in the council document):

A: Our priorities (not in any particular order) are to make public transport easy to use, to increase patronage especially on less frequent routes, to attract motorists out of their cars, and to create a comprehensive network.

B: Scheduled buses, which provide the overwhelming majority of supported journeys, should remain the backbone of the system.

1. The Council should try to use Quality Contracts (whose introduction will be facilitated by the Local Transport Bill) and the Transport Innovation Fund to bring more money and organisation into rural transport. Even without this there is scope to improve funding, as the Council's own figures show that it is spending less than other comparable authorities.

C: We have proposed targets for minimum service levels for different sizes of community.

2. We support the Council's recommendation for a Rural Transport Partnerhip Forum, but its remit should cover all modes of transport, not just community buses. (We are represented on Bedfordshire's RTP Forum.)

3. We support the Council's recommendation for an operators' forum but it should be extended to become a wider stakeholders' forum involving bus users.

4. We are concerned that the Council seems to think of demand responsive transport (DRT) as a universal solution rather than just as one of several means to the end of an improved transport network. DRT should be available to all without qualification; publicity should include enough information about the running of the service to allow passengers to plan journeys before booking; and same day booking should be available. We recommend three types of DRT:

(a) Journey to work services which mean that people wherever they live can apply for "9 to 5" jobs in their nearest town without having to drive.

(b) Connectional services linking with rail or bus routes at specially chosen interchange points.

(c) Corridor services which link two towns by a route which depends on demand.

5. We support the Council's proposals for better information, but they should also include restoration of printed timetables, setting up of a control centre which can tell people how services are running, teaching schoolchildren how to use public transport, and printing "Days Out From..." leaflets.

6. We support a brokerage to give groups better access to community transport vehicles, e.g. for trips to Greater London where they will soon have to meet higher pollution standards.

7. We support the recommendation to aim for better energy efficiency and disability provision, but suggest that the Council should set up guidelines on how to choose between them when they conflict. Also wheelchair access is pointless when, as sometimes happens, parking is so uncontrolled that buses can only stop in the middle of the road.

8. We strongly support the recommendation to seek a review of EU regulations (see headline article of this newsletter!).

9. We support the principle of efficiency gains but suspect that our interpretation may differ from that of the Council. Our priority would be to go for increased usage by such means as encouraging longer day trips.

10. We support the Council's proposals for improved monitoring.

D: The report gives a list of priority areas. No indication is given of how they were chosen. For each we give specific proposals.

E: Our response has two appendices. The first lists locations on main roads that if made more bus friendly could help nearby villages. The second lists proposed new strategic and corridor bus routes. Here is a summary of these: Cambridge-Rugby, Stansted-Peterborough, Cambridge-Haverhill-Ipswich/Colchester, Stansted-Balsham-Newmarket, St Neots-Ely/Wisbech, Cambridge-Ramsey-Peterborough, Cambridge-Waterbeach Stn-Over circular, interchange at Hinxton Genome Campus, Cambridge/Royston-Bedfordshire, Cambridge-Hertford, Cambridge-Mildenhall-Thetford, Ely-Mildenhall-Bury, Peterborough-Huntingdon serving more villages, DRT in area between A1, A14 and A605, DRT in area between Bedford and A14, Newmarket-Haverhill, Wisbech-Spalding, Manea Stn-Wisbech/Downham Market.

Coach News

Two important infrastructure changes have had impacts on the National Express network -- routes serving Heathrow Terminal 4 were switched to Terminal 5 as soon as that opened, and certain journeys on the London to Dover service stop at Ebbsfleet International Station, we believe not in the same area as the Fastrack bus that links it with Dartford, Bluewater and Gravesend.

Also, the coach stations at Birmingham and Milton Keynes have both been closed temporarily for refurbishment. The temporary coach station to replace the former is quite close by but in an equally non pedestrian friendly area for those aiming at the city centre or seeking to make interchange with rail or tram services. The replacement for Milton Keynes Coachway is some way away, much closer to the shopping centre, which will no doubt be convenient for many users who will be spared a change. (This will also be used by the X5, and we look forward to major improvements in timekeeping for this service as it no longer has to negotiate Junction 14 of the M1.)

Also closed, permanently, is Luton bus station. In recent years this has been in a disgraceful state and the vast majority of local buses have spurned it, but it is adjacent to the rail station and shopping centre -- though the closure of the latter at 18.30 means that it and the rail station are cut off from the town in the evenings. Luton deserves better.

According to the published timetable, the Cambridge-London service no longer serves the Maris Lane stop in Trumpington, though the airport coaches continue to do so. In practice it seems that most journeys are continuing to serve the stops in the wrong order (i.e. when en route to London starting at Parkside and picking up at Madingley Road P&R), which means that passengers waiting at Madingley Road can't be sure when the bus is supposed to turn up, which no doubt makes this stop less popular. On the return coaches generally stop at Madingley Road only if requested.

Also the Westminster stop has been moved from Millbank to Victoria Street. We have been told that this is because it is intended to pedestrianise the road that goes past the Houses of Parliament. If only MPs were as concerned with the traffic blight suffered by the rest of us! We hope that congestion between Victoria Coach Station and Parliament Square won't affect the reliability of coaches out of London too badly, and that when Parliament Square is blocked (say, by a big demonstration) an adequate diversion route can be found. (Our preference would be to go through the Royal Parks -- why should this privilege be reserved for motorists?)

Otherwise there aren't too many changes to the network.

Here, as promised, is a list of registered sections of coach routes in our area. These exclude sections of route within Greater London, all of which are included, as are services to Bluewater and all the way to Brighton, Eastbourne (via Brighton) and Chichester on routes 025 and 027, and services between Luton town and airport on routes serving both. Passengers using London coaches to get to Heathrow will probably find National Express the most convenient option if they have passes, but Cambridge passengers without passes will find it cheaper to pick up the tube at Mile End on the way out and return to Stratford; in both cases the coach stops next to the tube station.

We must emphasise that possession of a pass does not entitle one to a seat; and that no responsibility is taken for the accuracy of the following information.

010 (Kings Lynn-Cambridge-London): Available Kings Lynn to Huntingdon and Cambridge to Trumpington or Sawston.

305 (Liverpool-Southend): Available Liverpool to Warrington, Stoke to Newcastle under Lyme, Birmingham to Coventry, Daventry to Cambridge and Trumpington, Chelmsford to Southend.

308 (Birmingham-Lowestoft): Available east of Peterborough.

314 (Cambridge-Southport): Available east of Northampton plus Coventry to Birmingham and Runcorn to Southport.

326 (Cambridge-Newcastle): Available Bedford to Leicester, Chesterfield to Sheffield, Leeds to Wetherby and Middlesbrough or Durham to Newcastle.

350 (Clacton-Liverpool): Available east of Huntingdon plus Peterborough to Stamford and Grantham to Manchester Airport.

447 (London-Lincoln): Available Peterborough to Stamford and Grantham to Lincoln.

448 (London-Grimsby): Available north of Peterborough.

449 (London-Mablethorpe): Available north of Peterborough. The service is due to be rerouted to omit Market Deeping from 21 July (is this because of the opening of the new road?), so check that it is still valid on the section between Peterborough and Spalding after that date.

490 (London-Yarmouth): Available north of Thetford.

496 (London-Cromer): Available north of Mildenhall.

497 (London-Yarmouth): Available Newmarket to Bury and Stanton, and Harleston and Lowestoft to Yarmouth.

701 (Heathrow-Woking Railair Link): Available throughout.

VT98 (Heathrow-Watford Railair Link): Available throughout.

707 (Northampton-Gatwick): Available Northampton to Milton Keynes Coachway, Luton to Hemel Hempstead and within Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

717 (Cambridge-Brighton): Available within Cambridge and Heathrow and south of Gatwick.

727 (Norwich-Brighton): Available north of Newmarket, within Heathrow, and Gatwick to Brighton.

737 (Stansted-Oxford): Available Hatfield to High Wycombe and within Oxford. (Note: according to another source they are also available between High Wycombe and Oxford.)

767 (Nottingham-Stansted): Available east of Luton.

777 (Wolverhampton-Stansted): Available west of Coventry and east of Milton Keynes.

787 (Cambridge-Heathrow): Available north of Hemel Hempstead and within Heathrow.

797 (Norwich/Cambridge-Brighton): Available north of Cambridge and Trumpington, within Heathrow and south of Gatwick.

We have worked out, and submitted to National Express, a set of proposals which will bring worthwhile improvements; among the effects on the Cambridge area are the following:

1. Extra stop close to the Shirehall for all Cambridge services.

2. Birmingham-Stansted (777) diverted via Cambridge instead of Luton, also serving Rugby, Kettering, Thrapston and Huntingdon. Passengers between Birmingham and Luton would have an alternative, more frequent route changing at Milton Keynes Coachway.

3. Nottingham-Stansted (767) diverted via Cambridge instead of Luton and extended to Gatwick. Main stops would be Leicester, Market Harborough, Corby, Thrapston, Huntingdon, Cambridge, Stansted, Harold Wood, Lakeside, Ebbsfleet, Swanley, Westerham and Oxted. Passengers from Nottingham to Luton would be served by the 230 which now runs to Gatwick but which would be curtailed to terminate at Heathrow Central via Terminal 5.

4. There would be a more frequent service westward from Stansted stopping at Standon, Hitchin station and town, Luton town and airport then by one of several routes to Oxford (covering existing 737) or Stratford on Avon.

5. The airport services from Cambridge and Norwich (except 787 via Luton) would each be routed via either the M25 or A414 corridors and would make stops appropriate to that corridor. Services via Hemel Hempstead would call at the rail station. All services would at Heathrow call first at Terminal 5, and on services continuing to Gatwick passengers for Heathrow Terminals 1-3 would have to change there to a shuttle train or bus (there would also be a bus to Terminal 4).

6. The 727 from Norwich would make additional stops at Snetterton, Elveden/Center Parcs, and at two or more places in Cambridgeshire.

Cambs bus changes

We omit mention of those services that have merely changed operator, but we must refer to the takeover of Huntingdon & District and Cavalier bus services by Stagecoach in Cambridge and Peterborough respectively. Tickets such as Explorers are now interavailable, though we do not have full details.

C1 (Cambridge City): The Cambridge night buses, running Fri-Sun mornings, were withdrawn Fridays, also last journey in each direction on other days.

X5 (Cambridge-Oxford): Diverted to Milton Keynes Campbell Park Coachway (see "Coach News" above).

11 (Cambridge-Bury): This happened some time ago but we have only just noticed: the bus now runs direct between Newmarket and Bury via Kentford. It was taken off this route some time ago due to a weight restriction but wasn't brought back when the work had finished. We regard this as good news.

11 and 29 (Chishill/Linton-Saffron Walden): These market day (Tuesday) services to Saffron Walden have been deregistered by the operator from May; they may be restored as contracted operations.

X14 and 27 (Peterborough area): X14 makes extra journey to Lynch Wood replacing withdrawn 27.

16 (Huntingdon-Peterborough): Different journeys now serve Folksworth.

18/18A/28 (Cambridge-Gamlingay/St Neots): No change at the moment but services are under review. We would like to see through operation to Bedfordshire.

31 (Cambridge-Fowlmere/Barley): Trumpington served only by a pair of shopping journeys. The shortening of the route is welcome but it is disgraceful that yet another part of Cambridge City has such a poor service.

43 (Royston-Chrishall): Market day shopping journeys (on Wednesdays) withdrawn. See paragraph on Herts for more information.

46, 60 and 63 (Wisbech area services): These routes to Kings Lynn, March and Three Holes, all operated by Norfolk Green, have new timetables.

61 (March-Downham Market): Withdrawn. A replacement taxibus operates on Mondays to Fridays only between Three Holes and Downham Market; it is not clear if it serves Welney, which with Christchurch is otherwise only served once a week by Friday service 65 from Wisbech to Downham Market.

90/1 (Letchworth-Royston via Ashwell and Ashwell & Morden station): Replaces former service between Hitchin and Guilden Morden.

106A (Ely school service): Amendments from September.

152 (St Neots-Bedford via Kimbolton): New timetable from June. Covington, Hargrave Turn and Shelton will lose their service (currently Thursdays only).

356/7 (March town service): Will serve Elliott Road.

401-13 (Peterborough Local Link): Major changes including withdrawal of many Sunday services. Newborough and Eye are cut off on Sundays and have no buses to each other at any time -- the last remnant of the New Eye Flyer.

407 (Huntingdon-Peterborough via villages, 4th Wed of month): New route will include Gt Gidding.

408 (Huntingdon-St Neots via villages, Thur): New route will include Catworth.

North Beds Dart (Bedford-Kimbolton): Will be replaced by a lower frequency fixed route service not serving Kimbolton.

Other bus changes: Most of these are negative.

Beds: Cuts to many services are due on 8 June: evening buses to Cranfield and the villages around Sharnbrook; local links in East Beds and Elstow; demand responsive services in North Beds; and the 201 which links Bedford with villages in Mid Beds via Haynes Church End.

Herts: In December N Herts District Council withdrew its contribution to supporting buses in Herts, and this led to many cuts, not confined to N Herts. The 43 between Royston and Chrishall, serving Chishill and Heydon in Cambs, was one of these. Several market day services -- remnants of the network which used to fill in the gap between morning and afternoon school journeys by offering journeys to different market towns -- have disappeared, including the long standing 26 from Royston to Bishops Stortford.

Also, several routes are affected by the closure of Luton bus station (see "Coach News" above). The summer Sunday extras -- the 327 Chilterns Rambler linking Hemel Hempstead, Dunstable, Whipsnade Zoo and Tring, the 904 Ayots Explorer Taxibus to Shaw's house in Ayot St Lawrence, and the extension of the 343 from Dunstable to Whipsnade Zoo -- will continue to run this year.

Suffolk: There was significant reorganisation in April, mainly for the worse, affecting the areas around Ipswich and the coast but also with some changes around Bury. The Sunday service between Bury and Diss was reduced so that return trips to Diss are effectively impossible.

Norfolk: The Coasthopper service was improved in that more journeys run through to Kings Lynn (including on Sundays from May). To use this, get to Kings Lynn and buy a Norfolk Green Day Anywhere ticket for 7 pounds, which is valid on all Norfolk Green services plus First buses between Hunstanton and Kings Lynn (on which it cannot however be bought) and, on Sundays, Sanders 29 between Wells and Fakenham (but not from Fakenham to Norwich, though it is of course valid on Norfolk Green's X29 on this route on weekdays).

Norfolk Green's website shows a special timetable for route 505 between Kings Lynn and Spalding on the day of the Flower Parade (Sat 3 May). Fortunately the roadworks at Sutton Bridge that threatened to cause major delays seem to have finished.

For the next few months due to roadworks in Walsingham Norfolk Green (and on Sundays Sanders) 29 takes an interesting route through the village, passing the old railway station and the entrance to the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway. This is also true of some journeys on Sanders 45, which links Norwich and Fakenham via Holt, Cley and Blakeney, with most journeys serving Walsingham, Great and Little Snoring but some serving the Thursford collection (not at times convenient for visitors unless they walk to or from the A148 where there are more buses available). However, after August it is planned to replace this by a demand responsive service, which may or may not be well suited to the needs of visitors.

Berks: The 300 "Royal Landscape Link" which last year opened up Windsor Great Park, parts of which are remote from other public transport, will not run this year. Last year it was suspended after about 3 months of operation because of the foot and mouth alert, so it was not surprising that it never got well enough known to attract usage. And it started too late for the springtime splash of rhododendrons at Valley Gardens, which received considerable publicity in 2006 because of plans (withdrawn after a massive protest) to charge visitors to Valley Gardens.

Also, the Four Valleys Taxibus which linked villages in the Newbury area has disappeared. Replacement services are inadequate, though Newbury Buses 7 still offers a Saturday service between Newbury and Wantage, the shortest route to Oxford since the Didcot service was axed last year (see last newsletter).

Oxfordshire: There have been minor changes to route 20 between Oxford and Chipping Norton, but these have the effect of severing the connection back to Cambridge from the 17.15 Stratford to Chipping Norton, as the connection now arrives in Oxford 3 minutes after the last bus to Cambridge. Both buses use the same city radial (Woodstock Road) but the X5 doesn't stop to pick up. The best option is now to catch the 488 from Chipping Norton or Over Norton to Banbury, walk to the station, and (engineering work permitting) catch a train to Bicester which will connect with the last X5 at the Buckingham Road stop.

Also a reorganisation is planned for South Oxfordshire in June, with both pluses and minuses.

Worcestershire: The Malvern Hills Explorer is running again on Saturdays and Sundays this summer, with a new route which includes Upton on Severn. Following the draconian cuts last year, we were apprehensive about what might happen in February this year, but this seems to have passed off without much damage. There were however some changes to services to the villages around Afflick (routes 423 and 425).

Somerset: Major cuts to the Chew Valley Explorer which is now of little use as a scenic route from Bristol to Cheddar Gorge. More bad news on the Devon border where route 307 between Taunton and Barnstaple has totally disappeared. Anything to do with the Busofools Directive?

Shropshire: The Shropshire Hills Shuttles -- what's left of them after the major cuts several years ago -- will be running again this year on Saturdays and Sundays.

Derbyshire: The Transpeak service between Manchester and Derby has been extended to Nottingham, which was its traditional terminus.

North Yorkshire: There have been major cuts in Sunday services in the Yorkshire Dales. The only services are Cravenlink 784/884 (which runs throughout the year replacing hourly X84, though many journeys use a more scenic route); Malham Tarn Shuttle 809 (also running Saturdays); all year services 66A to Grassington, 24 to Pateley Bridge and 156/7 to Hawes; a Wensleydale tour bus between Ripon and Garsdale; and summer services 807, 808 and 874 which link Ribblehead, Leyburn, Wharfedale and Ilkley.

However, the Moorsbus service has shown some improvements, with a completely new route serving the western moors between Osmotherley and Helmsley, worth a special visit.

Cumbria: There have been cuts to many routes, though apparently the 564 which we mentioned last time has been spared. So you can still get to the Lake District by going by train via the scenic Settle-Carlisle route to Kirkby Stephen then catching a bus to Kendal!

Wales: The Pembrokeshire coastal network still runs, this year it should be joined by a new Bloomfield Walkers' Bus serving the inland (Daugleddau) part of the National Park.

Scotland: The 30 between Lanark and Sanquhar -- perhaps the most scenic route in the south of Scotland -- has been curtailed at Wanlockhead. The section south is now served by a route 223, but these routes are not timetabled to connect.

Action Line

1. If you are a national supporter, contact the Campaign for Better Transport saying that you agree to their passing on your contact details to us.

2. Contact your MP and one or more of your MEPs about the European Driving Hours Directive.