Bus services in and around Cambridge have been given a massive £5 million boost after a successful bid for Government funding which will see hundreds of thousands more bus trips.
Cambridgeshire County Council has been told today by Government that a bid £1.7 million bid for the Better Bus Area Fund led by the authority has been successful and unlocks further millions of pounds of funding.
The money will help improve bus journeys, make it easier for passengers to access services and reduce pollution in the historic Cambridge city centre.
Cambridgeshire already bucks the national trend for increasing bus patronage and new measures would see up to 518,000 more passenger journeys over the two years of the bid.
The key element of the Better Bus Areas Fund bid is a package of measures in Cambridge city centre and on four of the key radial routes for bus services in the city (Hills Road, Mill Road, Histon Road and Milton Road).
Various traffic management measures will be introduced to remove or reduce delays to buses to make journey’s more reliable. This includes reallocating road space to buses, prioritising buses through signalised junctions, rerouting buses away from pinch points, reducing conflict with other road users and enforcing parking restrictions on key bus routes.
In addition, bus information screens will be provided in the Grand Arcade and on Petty Cury, and Smartcard machines will be provided in the city centre and at Cambridge Station.
Together, these measures will improve journey times and the reliability of services, and should allow the continuation of the significant growth in bus patronage in the city that has been seen in the past ten years.
A further element of the bid will introduce rural interchange sites in three villages in South Cambridgeshire, Cambourne, Sawston and Linton. These will include a secure parking and cycle parking provision, and will allow people to link with local services provided by taxis, community transport providers, and for drop off trips.
As a partner in the bid, Stagecoach East have committed to replace the oldest buses in their Cambridge fleet (which run on the Citi 2 route) with new buses that meet the Euro V emissions standard for emissions. This major investment will mean that over 90% of bus mileage in the city will be made by buses meeting the Euro IV or Euro V standards. This will significantly improve air quality in the city centre.
Stagecoach has also committed to experiment with extending Busway journeys to new destinations such as Peterborough, Ramsey and Chatteris via St Ives & The Busway.
The bid was a partnership between Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council and the two main bus operators Stagecoach East and Whippet Coaches Ltd.