Transport routes should be direct and services as cheap as possible. For anyone accessing Cambridge from the east, there are no public transport options that fit the bill.
The train service from Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket is infrequent, and only gets you to Cambridge railway station. Onward bus connections, say, to the Science Park, Biomedical Campus or West Cambridge, add time and cost to an already inconvenient journey.
Rural bus services wind their way through the villages, taking an hour and twenty minutes between Newmarket and Cambridge bus stations. If you miss the 06:59, the next service doesn’t arrive in central Cambridge until just before 10am. Coming from Bury St Edmunds, there are just two express services in the morning and one returning in the evening; otherwise you have to change at Newmarket – connection not guaranteed – making the journey nearly two hours.
Is it any wonder almost everyone drives?
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) Eastern Access proposals attempt to fix these problems with infrastructure: more bus lanes on Newmarket Rd; moving the Park & Ride east of Airport Way; building a busway through the airport (when it’s redeveloped), and linking that to Mill Rd via The Tins (currently a cycle/footway).
Buses take 17 minutes to get from Stow-cum-Quy to Drummer St via Fen Ditton. GCP’s proposals could reduce that by maybe 5 minutes. On a journey that can take up to 114 minutes, that’s not a game-changer.
Feedback gathered by the action group A to B1102 indicates that most people want a better bus service from the villages, not a better Park & Ride service which they still have to drive most of the way to catch, and which only takes them to the city centre. As an aside, they would also like GCP to work with East Cambridgeshire District Council to extend the proposed Swaffhams Greenway cycle route to Burwell.
Will GCP acknowledge the wisdom of making transport links direct and as cheap as possible? If so, can we see how it proposes to help realise that ambition for bus services east of the Stow-cum-Quy A14 interchange?
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 9 December 2020.