The ability to go anywhere by car is a given: everywhere is connected by a network of roads. The hardest part is figuring out where to park. The same is not true for taking public transport, which is typically an elaborate puzzle of routes, timetables, connections and long walks.
Whether we like it or not, there are compelling reasons to use our cars less: to reduce congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions; and improve our fitness and wellbeing.
In Cambridge, it is possible to have a high quality of life and use a car so rarely it doesn’t warrant owning one. But outside the city, that’s only the case if you too can reach the city centre within around, say, thirty minutes any time of day. That’s more or less possible from much of Ely, Waterbeach, Northstowe, Great Shelford, Foxton and Impington because they have a railway station or Guided Busway stop. How to make it possible from Cambourne, Cottenham, Burwell, Sawston, Haslingfield and elsewhere?
A key part of the answer is Travel Hubs – not more park-and-rides. Think of them like village railway stations, but served by frequent (ideally, turn-up-and-go), express bus services running from 6am to midnight on direct routes to Cambridge city centre, employment sites and railway stations.
The location of Travel Hubs is critical, so that they can be served efficiently by express bus services, and so that most local people can reach them on foot or cycle. This is why we need to get them included in the region’s spatial and transport plans.
Once Travel Hubs locations are identified in the local plans, future developments will contribute towards the cost of building them, as well as the safe walking and cycling routes to reach them. Some hubs will be self-funding and a major asset to the local community if they can also include co-working, retail, delivery, childcare, healthcare or other amenities.
Please respond to the Local Plan and Local Transport and Connectivity Plan consultations. Ask for every village and employment centre in South Cambridgeshire to have access to a Travel Hub. Recommend locations too.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 10 November 2021.