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More than 7,000 sign petitions to save Cambridgeshire bus services from axe





More than 7,000 people have signed petitions in just two days to save vital bus services linking their villages to Cambridge after Stagecoach East announced the routes would be cancelled.

The announcement this week by Stagecoach that 18 bus routes around Cambridgeshire and 21 overall were set to be axed by the end of October has shocked residents around the county who rely on the services. The bus operator claims it is cancelling these routes because they are no longer commercially viable.

Stagecoach electric bus (59502652)
Stagecoach electric bus (59502652)

Now passengers are demanding vital services be retained for commuters, children travelling to school and college and people going to hospital appointments or shopping. And Cambridgeshire Lib Dems have started their own petition asking Stagecoach to come back to the table for more negotiations.

A petition by Noah Williams to save the number 18 bus route from Cambourne to Cambridge had reached almost 2,000 signatures today (September 21) after just two days and warns that many students will not be able to get to college after the end of October. He says: “The 18 is an hourly bus that runs from Cambridge to Cambourne and also goes to Eltisley and Longstowe twice a day. It is heavily relied on by young and old people to get to and from work, college, shopping and everywhere else they need to be in town.

“Students of Long Road, Hills Road, Comberton Village College and Cambridge Regional College (plus others) rely on its school run. It only does this school run once a day and is heavily benificial as it saves students a lot of time and money. We can't all drive!

“Cancelling the 18 is going to leave all of us in Comberton, Barton, Toft and other rural areas with no way to get around.”

RManaging Director of Stagecoach East, Darren Roe pictured with the new Stagecoach Platinum Jubilee Bus in Cambridge..Pic - Richard Marsham.
RManaging Director of Stagecoach East, Darren Roe pictured with the new Stagecoach Platinum Jubilee Bus in Cambridge..Pic - Richard Marsham.

Meanwhile more than 5,000 people have signed a petition launched by Jemma Fortey to stop the cancellation of the number 11 service which runs from Bury St Edmunds, through Newmarket, Burwell, The Swaffhams and Bottisham into Cambridge. She says: “Not only will this have a huge impact on children and young adults attending Cambridge colleges, west Suffolk college it shall also remove any public services from any villages between allowing us access to train services. This cannot be allowed to happen, people will become even more isolated, people will struggle to get to work, the elderly may lose their only form of transport to get from a-b, the government want us to use buses and reduce pollution and traffic in main city’s and this will undoubtedly cause more cars to travel into Cambridge, which coincidentally they are considering a £5 levy for congestion.”

A petition has gathered more than 400 signatures to save the the number 39 service from March to Ely via Sutton. Hannah Edgeley, who launched the petition said: " Not only will this have a huge impact on children and young adults attending Cambridge colleges, This cannot be allowed to happen, people will become even more isolated, people will struggle to get to work, the elderly may lose their only form of transport to get from a-b, the government want us to use buses and reduce pollution and traffic in main city’s and this will undoubtedly cause more cars to travel into Cambridge, which coincidentally they are considering a £5 levy for congestion.

The new bus network map fro Cambridgeshire from Stagecoach East (59502658)
The new bus network map fro Cambridgeshire from Stagecoach East (59502658)

Darren Roe, Stagecoach East managing director, claims the decision to cut the services has been made because they were losing too much money, even though the company has taken government money to support the business. He said: “Overall, services are operating at around 75 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger levels, with concessionary travel for older people dropping to as low as 55 per cent. Inflation, rising fuel and energy bills are also all having an impact on our costs. In such tough economic conditions, just like local authorities, bus companies are having to make very difficult decisions.

“The 18 affected routes have been losing £12 per passenger per journey on average. Some of them, where numbers have dropped as low as around only 50 customers per week, are costing up to £80 per passenger. We cannot continue to operate services which we know are no longer financially viable. That would not be right for taxpayers or our passengers."

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Lib Dems have also launched a petition requesting that Stagecoach comes back to the table to negotiate with the Combined Authority to put in place a bus network that residents can rely on and reverses the proposed cuts to bus services.

Pippa Heylings . Picture: Keith Heppell.
Pippa Heylings . Picture: Keith Heppell.

Lib Dem campaigner Pippa Heylings said,: "The cuts that Stagecoach are proposing will hit the residents of South Cambridgeshire hard. They will mean that villages like Melbourn, Comberton and Harston won't have any bus service at all; whilst families in Swavesey, Over and Willingham will struggle with reduced bus services. Residents are worried how to get their children to school; and sixth formers are anxious about being able to get to college. Life is already very hard and now families in these communities will struggle to get to their jobs and are being cut off fom health care and shops.

"The behaviour of Stagecoach is shocking. Just a few weeks ago, they accepted a government subsidy so that they could keep services running. And now they are cutting the very services that they were being paid for.

"Bus services in Cambridgeshire are such a shambles that it is no surprise that people are not willing to depend on them. People need reliable services. I am calling on Stagecoach to sit down with the Combined Authority and government to agree a long-term plan that includes bus franchising.

“This is ultimately a failure of the government to get a grip on the bus industry during the pandemic. Earlier this year, the long-awaited Boris Johnson bus manifesto promise was slashed from £3 billion to just £1.4 billion and none of those grants have been allocated to Cambridgeshire.”

The routes cancelled are:

  • Cambridge-Newmarket-Bury St Edmunds 11 & X11
  • Cambridge-Newmarket-Ely 12
  • Longstowe-Cambridge 18
  • Royston-Cambridge 915
  • Addenbrookes-Trumpington 25
  • Ely-March 39
  • Peterborough-Lynch Wood 23 & 24
  • Hampton-Peterborough 29
  • St Ives-Ramsey V1
  • St Ives-Chatteris V2
  • St Ives-Somersham V3
  • St Ives-Boxworth V4
  • Hinchingbrooke-Godmanchester V5
  • St Ives Town 22
  • Huntingdon-Ramsey 30
  • Huntingdon-March 35
  • Huntingdon-St Neots 66


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