Cambridge Bus Service Reduced to Meet Emissions Targets


Monday, January 11th, 2010. 11:59pm


Citi 2 Bus to Addenbrooke's in Cambridge

The frequency of the Citi 2 Bus to Addenbrooke’s has been reduced; apparently as a result of misguided attempts to tackle climate change.

At the North Area Committee on the 7th of January 2010 Cllr Armstrong reported briefly on a meeting with Andy Campbell, Managing Director of Stagecoach in Cambridge. The reductions in the frequency of the Citi 2 and Citi 7 services, and re-routing the Citi 4 away from Milton Road in the evenings were the main items discussed. Cllr Armstrong attended the meeting along with Cllrs Boyce and Blair. She reported that Mr Campbell had told them that proposed reductions in buses were due to a need to meet emissions targets. Councillors said he “went on about that a lot” and basically said they didn’t believe him. What they didn’t do is pin him down on what he meant; if there is some arm of the state which is some how preventing Mr Campbell using his busses to provide a much needed service councillors really ought to have pressed him to find out what those pressures are so whichever arm of the state is responsible can be tackled and shown the unintended consequences of what they are doing.

As councillors didn’t probe Mr Campbell sufficiently when they met him, I have written to him and will post any reply in the below.

Member of the public, Mr Bond, suggested that proposed cuts to bus services were due to the opening of the guided bus. He said that the notices on the busses which say: “join me on the guided bus route” were literally true. He said the busses and drivers currently serving north Cambridge would be diverted to run the new guided bus service from St. Ives when it starts.

Mr Bond described the regularly with which the city’s buses bunch up and sometimes three or four operating a route can end up in the same place – resulting in waits of almost an hour for a service which is advertised as being every fifteen minutes.

Councillors also spoke of a £280K subsidy to serve Arbury Park yet buses don’t enter the development. It is crucial that where we spend public money on bus services we get what we’re want and the money doesn’t go straight into the company profits. Councillors approving contracts need to be on-the-ball.

Councillors at the North Area Committee noted there would be a “local liaison forum” next Thursday for the guided bus. The press and public are excluded from these meetings, only invited councillors are able to attend. It was reported that the meetings will cease as soon as the bus becomes operational.

6 comments/updates on “Cambridge Bus Service Reduced to Meet Emissions Targets

  1. Andrew Jones

    I sometimes get the Citi 2 to work, and I wouldn’t mind so much if it was reduced to every half hour as long as they came when advertised. But they really have to do something about the bunching up, it drives me mad!

  2. Oliver Stanton

    I too use the Citi2 to get from one side of Cambridge to the other. Some days it takes 35 minutes, sometimes 50 minutes for the journey and that does not include the waiting time and distance to walk after being dropped off at a bus stop nowhere near anywhere. I am sometimes late, never early. Allowing an hour to travel the 3 miles does sound daft? It can’t be beyond the wit of a bus company to ensure that buses don’t bunch and are on time. Afterall they are the experts. But to reduce the bus service which will only encourage my car usage negating any real drop in emmissions, and to use it as an excuse to further erode the service is disingenuous to say the least. What we need is competition – not more hot air from a company looking to reduce their costs and service without fear of losing income or their franchise.

    A poor service, loathed by residents, served up by local politicians with no interest or power over a monopoly supplier.

  3. Martin

    > It can’t be beyond the wit of a bus company to ensure that buses don’t bunch and are on time.

    True, but the key problem is that there is *too much other traffic*.

    Richard and others have campaigned against a congestion charge, which would have cut traffic (and thus delays/costs of everyone else) and the £500m of transport investment that would have come with it, so be prepared to sit in a bus late for the next ten years.

  4. Richard Article author

    While I oppose the congestion charge I’d like to see the buses run more freely. Right in the middle of the city centre the risk of bus and taxi congestion if so many new homes are to be built on the edge of, and around, the city.

    Bus lanes need to be enforced (at the moment they’re not which makes driving and cycling more dangerous than it need be – I was undertaken by a car in the bus lane on Regent Street on Monday morning and Newmarket Road’s bus lanes are badly signed and there is little chance for drivers unfamiliar with the area to avoid them so are often blocked by cars).

    If Northstowe is built and occupied, or sooner if the guided bus is a more rapid success Milton and Histon Roads may need some radical change to cope with the increased bus traffic.

  5. Richard Article author

    My email to Andy Campbell, Managing Director of Stagecoach Cambridgeshire:

    Dear Mr Campbell,

    I attended Cambridge City Council’s North Area Committee meeting on the 7th of January at which councillors Armstrong, Boyce and Blair reported on their recent meeting with you. They said you had told them that proposed reductions in buses were due to a need to meet emissions targets. I’m writing to ask if that’s true and to ask what you meant.

    If the government are on one hand trying to encourage people to use public transport over private cars, yet on with the other hand are introducing “emissions targets” which are pushing you to reduce the frequency of the bus service then something has gone wrong.

    Are you saying that subsidies for Low Carbon Emission Busses are somehow making it relatively uneconomic to run other vehicles in your fleet and so you are reducing the frequency of your services?

    I would be interested in your insight; I’m prepared to try and use the democratic process to get a more coherent approach to encouraging energy efficient and practical public transport. It’s no good if a drive for more energy efficient busses means busses run less frequently and cease to be a viable choice for those with alternatives.

    Richard Taylor
    Cambridge
    http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

    Mr Campbell has replied to me to say he believes the city council are at fault and the targets referred to are European. His email is reproduced below:

    During the meeting I discussed a number of reasons for the proposed reductions including the recession and more stringent emission standards for the city centre. We are investing in 50 new vehicles running on Bio fuel which means some services will be increasing the seating capacity from 48 seats to 70 with Citi 2,3 & 7 operating with double deckers, this means that the Citi 2 & 7 can operate on a 15 minute service. The new vehicles are the latest Euro V emission standards but the city councils latest proposals do not allow for expansion of the network despite the proposed increased housing in the area. The emission targets are to meet the european Nox levels, we have objected to the proposal and are trying to engage the local authority in a more realistic approach to improving air quality. I hope this answers your questions but if not please don’t hesitate to contact me on the number below.

    I’m not clear what levers Cambridge City Council has at its disposal to try and reduce NOx levels in the city and how it is using them. I’m aware the council carries out monitoring, but I can’t see how it can directly affect the buses (and Google isn’t rapidly providing the answer).

  6. David Vincent

    The question of emissions is a red herring. Stagecoach were previously quite clear that the Citi 2 cuts were a response to the recession. As far as I can see, I pay the same for my megarider but get two thirds of the service. The new double deckers may give them the ability on paper to get the same number of people to the same place. In practice, we will almost always have to wait half an hour for a bus, rather than about two thirds of the time. There will be less space for buggies and shopping trolleys. Technically a single decker can carry over 60 people with standing room. Standing on doubles is usually less. In the meantime, there will specious calls for artificial “competition”, which is clearly nonsensical – who is going to invest in a fleet of buses to compete with the company in possession, let alone the additional congestion and emissions from two fleets trying to fill the same space on the same routes (with non-compatible tickets of course). There must be proper regulation of bus services. The local authority should draw up the standard of service it requires and put it out to tender every 5 years or so. I don’t see how else it can work. Certainly the current model doesn’t. As with other forms of “privatisation” of essential services, the service has not improved and a few individuals have made large amounts of money.

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