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Consultation to be launched on proposed £5 daily charge to use Cambridge roads

A consultation will be launched over plans to shake-up public transport in Greater Cambridge funded by a £5 charge.

Traffic and users around Cambridge Railway Station. Picture: Keith Heppell. (59649553)
Traffic and users around Cambridge Railway Station. Picture: Keith Heppell. (59649553)

The Greater Cambridge Partnership’s executive board has agreed today (Wednesday) to ask the public for their views this autumn.

The transport body is proposing to provide cheaper bus fares and more frequent services with longer operating hours, funded by daily charging for road users under its City Access plan.

Vehicle movements into, out of and within a proposed ‘Sustainable Travel Zone’ would incur a flat daily charge between 7am and 7pm on weekdays, although there would be some exemptions.

The GCP says ongoing revenue needs to be found and space must be created to deliver the major shake-up of the bus network, offering cheaper fares, more frequent services and longer operating hours.

Today’s decision follows the recent announcement by Stagecoach East that it will cut 18 routes at the end of October because they are no longer commercially viable.

Cllr Elisa Meschini, chair of the executive board, said: “If recent announcements have shown us anything, it is that we need better and more reliable buses which are vital for so many people, including some of the most vulnerable and isolated in our communities. It is time to have a serious conversation about what we want from our public transport network.

“Time and again we have been told to ‘be bold’ and ‘take action’ to tackle the traffic clogging up our roads and the effects of climate change. These proposals represent a once in a generation opportunity to truly transform the way we all travel around the region.

“Together, we can create a transport network that works for everyone, with cheap and frequent bus services with longer operating hours to more locations – including employment sites and rural communities – to restore faith in public transport as a real alternative to the car, and to provide an environmentally sustainable, reliable and competitive choice for everyone’s journeys.

“I encourage everyone to carefully consider the ambitious package of measures we are proposing when the public consultation launches this autumn.”

There has been a huge backlash to the GCP’s proposals, with two petitions against road charging gathering more than 19,000 signatures since the plans were revealed.

Many residents and commuters have argued that it is not feasible for everyone to use buses to travel everywhere, leaving them with a major bill in a city with high living costs.

The inclusion of Addenbrooke’s Hospital and The Rosie within the charging zone has also prompted anger. South Cambridgeshire District Council member Daniel Lentell quit the Liberal Democrat party over its inclusion.

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