Proposals to deliver a world-class transport network for Greater Cambridge to transform the daily journeys of thousands of people have been unveiled.

Following extensive public consultation and engagement, the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has set out its proposals for one of the largest ever investments in a UK bus network to provide cheaper fares, more frequent services with longer operating hours and a huge increase in coverage for rural areas.

The paper to the Joint Assembly brings together public feedback and technical work to set out a package of measures – which includes further cycling upgrades – to create a step change in public transport and active travel across Greater Cambridge.

Key features of the proposed City Access package are:

  • New bus routes, additional orbital and express services, and a huge increase in rural coverage, with buses supported by Demand Responsive Transport (DRT).
  • Longer operating hours from 5.00 am to 1.00 am Monday to Saturday and 5.00 am to midnight on Sunday with more frequent services – six to eight buses every hour in the city and from market towns and hourly rural buses.
  • Flat fares to make public transport cheap and accessible; with passengers paying £1 to travel in the city and £2 for journeys in the travel to work area.
  • Options for new cross-city cycling routes to encourage more active travel, enhancing Greater Cambridge’s reputation as the UK’s leading cycling city.

Estimates say the package would result in 20,000 extra journeys made by bus and a further 60,000 additional trips by active travel every day to create a greener city region where people can travel easily and reliably on the bus, bicycle and foot.

To fund these extensive improvements and encourage people to make use of the new bus, cycling and walking opportunities, the GCP is proposing to introduce a Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ) with a road user charge.

Under the proposals, all vehicle movements into, out of and within the STZ would pay a flat daily charge, unless exempt or eligible for a discount or rebate, between 7.00 am and 7.00 pm on weekdays.

The future bus network and reduced fares would be phased-in before any zone was introduced. The City Deal can forward-fund the bus upgrades to build confidence in the services to help people make the modal shift from private cars to buses.

The proposals would be put to a final statutory public consultation before any decisions are made, which would be held in the autumn if approved by the executive board on September 28.

The proposals reflect peoples’ feedback to the GCP’s extensive public consultations and would help to cut the number of car trips in Cambridge by 50 per cent while raising the funding needed to provide a future bus network and better active travel options for people across the travel to work area.

The scheme would reduce carbon emissions from transport by about five per cent to help tackle climate change, as well as reduce pollution to provide cleaner air and a more ‘people-centric’ city environment for people to enjoy.

The City Access package is central to the GCP’s integrated transport network – providing the thread that links together the GCP’s busway and active travel schemes.

Peter Blake, transport director of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a world-class transport network for Greater Cambridge and the wider area to drive a real step change in the way we travel.

“We’ve listened to the views of the public to create a future bus network with cheaper fares, more services to more locations – including rural areas – and faster, more frequent services with longer operating hours to make public transport a reliable and competitive choice for everyone.

“With the City Deal in place to forward-fund and accelerate the delivery of this transformative bus network –one of the largest ever investments in a UK bus network, alongside upgrades to active travel – we can build confidence in the service and encourage people to make the switch to public transport sooner.

“The Citizens Assembly told us ‘to be bold’ and the ambitious proposals we are putting forward would work in tandem with our other schemes to create a truly sustainable transport network for Greater Cambridge.”

Image source: Greater Cambridge Partnership

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