New focus group to improve bus services between Peterborough and Cambridgeshire

Fenland District Council has set up a focus group to look at improving bus transportation from Peterborough to the rural villages and towns of Cambridgeshire.

Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 7:01 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:28 pm
A Stagecoach bus in Peterborough

Fenland District Council (FDC) working in conjunction with Fenland Transport and Access Group (TAG) has set up a focus group tasked with investigating how bus transportation between the rural towns and villages to and from Peterborough and Cambridge can be improved in the future.

Five public meetings have been arranged by the council and TAG enabling in-depth discussion on different transport topics including travel by rail, road and bus, as well as walking and cycling.

Currently some rural villages and towns are served by less than one bus an hour, and this means that anybody trying to travel into Peterborough for work, shopping or pleasure would be severely restricted not only by travel times, but the duration they can remain before having to catch a return bus – if one is even running.

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At the meeting last week chairman Paul Nelson, the Passenger Transport Manager at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “FDC and TAG are working together on a range of transport projects and issues, many of which are developed in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council.

“This latest focus group has been asking ‘what are Fenland’s rural transport needs and how could these be better met in future?’ and so we have convened a panel made up of locals and interested parties to explore some of these questions.”

Among the many interesting points raised at the meeting was how the bus companies can make the travelling experience better for passengers, and the idea of a freely available app for smart phones with accurate timetables was put forward.

One issue that constantly cropped up was how to coerce the bus companies into running what many see as unprofitable routes which may carry very few passengers, and the potential for franchising was suggested as well as subsidised tickets.

Getting from the villages and towns that do not have railway stations can require a long and arduous journey.

To get to Peterborough, for example, there are very few busses that allow commuters to get to work, fewer still that allow shoppers much time to spend actually shopping, and if you want to go to football at Peterborough United or go out for an evening meal, or see a play at the theatre, then there are no busses currently running late enough for a return trip.

Mr Nelson said: “We hope that by bringing about these five forums it will build on the success of Fenland’s first Transport Conference last year which explored ways in which the local network can be improved and highlighted the need for ongoing public engagement.”

Together FDC and TAG take a role in helping to deliver innovative transportation-based projects, one of which was a free guide giving the details of all the public transport schemes and providers operating in Fenland, originally produced in 2012.

The guide, which includes representatives from Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, FACT, NHS Cambridgeshire, Care Network and the Fenland Strategic Partnership, brings together information about bus and train operators, taxi companies, community car schemes, dial-a-ride and NHS Patient transport, including their contact details, and has now been fully updated to include advice on how to get bus and train information on your mobile phone, tablet or computer.

More information on future forums can be found on the Fenland District Council website.

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service